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Environmental Image Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), is preparing the environmental documents for review by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The FHWA is the Federal Agency responsible for final approval of the environmental document. This study and the supporting environmental documents will be governed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state regulatory requirements. Opportunities exist for the public to provide input into the alternatives and project-related environmental impacts.

NEPA guides federally funded projects and projects that require a Federal permit to lessen potential damages to the environment. IDOT is required to evaluate alternative ways of accomplishing and meeting study needs. They will assess the natural, built, and human environment to determine the extent of impacts that may arise from constructing and operating a project. Environmental factors such as air quality, wildlife, vegetation, water quality, wetlands, geology, neighborhoods, park/recreation areas, utilities, visual quality, and cultural resources will be assessed. Public comments that are received during the alternative analysis phase are considered in the draft environmental document. Following NEPA guidelines, a document called an Environmental Assessment will be prepared. The process calls for continuous environmental evaluations as alternatives are analyzed.

The above described process takes place during Phase I of the overall IDOT Project Development Process.

The IDOT Project Development Process consists of 3 phases.IDOT Development Process 

It starts with the Phase I process, that we are currently in.  Phase I is also referred to as Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Studies.  Through extensive stakeholder involvement and technical analysis, transportation needs will be defined, alternatives developed and evaluated, and a preferred alternative will be selected.  A range of factors to be considered in the decision making process will include: stakeholder input, engineering design, construction cost and environmental considerations.  Phase I is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

After a preferred alternative is approved, Phase II (or Contract Plan Preparation) and Land Acquisition would begin.  During this phase, detailed construction plans would be developed and any necessary land would be acquired for the project. Phase II is expected to take 24 months.

After funding for construction is secured, the Phase III construction of the project will begin.  Phase III is expected to last 2 construction seasons depending on the preferred alternative.

Funding for Phase II engineering is included in the Department’s FY 2017-2022 Proposed Highway Improvement Program. The remaining elements of the project will be included in our priorities for future funding consideration among similar improvement needs throughout the region.

The goal of the Phase 1 study process is to devise a Preferred Alternative with the benefit of public input by following a study approach dictated by regulatory agencies.  During this process, input is gathered from the community, local agencies with jurisdiction along the corridor, and the project consultant.

Analyzing Existing and Future Conditions and Defining Purpose and Need

  • Data Collection (current and future conditions)
  • Identify Transportation Issues and Deficiencies
  • Identify Goals and Objectives
  • Develop Project Problem Statement
  • Develop Purpose and Need

Analysis of Alternatives

  • Develop Alternative Evaluation Criteria
  • Identify Possible Alternatives
  • Develop Alternatives
  • Evaluate Alternatives

Further Evaluation of Alternatives and Selection of Preferred Alternative

  • Evaluate and Screen Alternatives
  • Select a Preferred Alternative
    • Prepare Draft Environmental Assessment
  • Prepare Final Environmental Assessment