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Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Highway Between Bush, LA and I-12 in St. Tammany Parish, LA

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Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Highway Between Bush, LA and I-12 in St. Tammany Parish, LA

Pete J. Serio
Federal Register
September 9, 2011


[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 175 (Friday, September 9, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55887-55889]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-23085]


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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers


Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Highway 
Between Bush, LA and I-12 in St. Tammany Parish, LA

AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is issuing this 
notice to advise the public that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(DEIS) has been completed and is available for review and comment.

DATES: Comments on the DEIS must be received no later than 5 p.m. 
Central Standard Time, Monday, October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to U.S. Corps of Engineers, New Orleans 
District, 7400 Leake Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70188.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions about the proposed action 
and the DEIS should be addressed to James A. Barlow, Jr., PhD, 
Regulatory Branch, phone (504) 862-2250 or e-mail at 
james.a.barlow@usace.army.mil, or Ms. Brenda Archer, Regulatory Branch, 
phone (504) 862-2046 or e-mail at brenda.a.archer@usace.army.mil.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The DEIS has been prepared to address the 
NEPA, environmental and cultural resource laws, USACE Regulatory 
Program Regulations (Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 
parts 320-332), including the 33 CFR part 325, Appendix B, and the 
requirements of the section 404(b)(1) guidelines (40 CFR part 230), to 
gather information needed for the USACE permit decision-making process 
regarding a permit application submitted by the Louisiana Department of 
Transportation and Development (LADOTD). LADOTD proposes construction 
of a high-speed, four-lane arterial highway from the southern terminus 
of the current, modern four-lane arterial portion of LA 21 in Bush, 
Louisiana, to I-12, a distance between 17.4 and 21 miles. The majority 
of the proposed highway would be designed as a rural arterial road RA-3 
with a design speed of 70 miles per hour, which, according to LADOTD, 
generally equates to a posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour. The 
typical cross section would have two 12-foot travel lanes, an 8- to 10-
foot outside shoulder, and a 4-foot inside shoulder in each direction. 
The median width would vary depending on highway design class used 
ranging between 40 and 60 feet, and a maximum ROW requirement of 250 
feet. The exception to that design could be as the proposed project 
transitions into existing roadways (i.e. intersections), and where 
alternative alignments follow the existing LA 21.
    The proposed I-12 to Bush highway is an effort planned by LADOTD 
and funded by the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic 
Development (TIMED) program (Louisiana Revised Statute 48:820.2). The 
stated mission of the TIMED program is to, ``foster economic 
development throughout the state of

[[Page 55888]]

Louisiana and enhance the quality of life for its residents through an 
investment in transportation projects.'' The TIMED program, approved by 
the 1989 General Session of the Louisiana State Legislature, identified 
a 15-year construction program funded by a 4-cent fuel tax, which 
includes the construction of the proposed LA 3241 highway between Bush, 
LA and I-12 in St. Tammany Parish. Revised Statute 47:820.2.B(1)(e) 
provides for a project from I-12 to Bush to be constructed as a four-
lane or more highway. The proposed highway would provide a four-lane 
highway connection for Washington and northern St. Tammany Parishes to 
I-12, with the purported goal of providing for regional transportation 
needs and stimulating undefined economic growth and activity in the 
region.
    LADOTD has stated that the proposed highway is needed as an 
alternative north-south connection that could reduce congestion and 
delays for those traveling from northern St. Tammany Parish and 
Washington Parish to I-12. As stated by LADOTD, the needs of the 
proposed action are to: (1) Fulfill the legislative mandate, Louisiana 
Revised Statute 47:820.2B(e); (2) provide a logical, direct, modern, 
high-speed, four-lane arterial to I-12 from the southern terminus of 
the current, modern, four-lane arterial portion of LA 21; (3) divert 
traffic from Washington and northern St. Tammany Parishes onto a four-
lane, modern, high-speed arterial to free capacity for local trips on 
segments of existing routes in southern suburban areas and reduce 
congestion during peak and some non-peak periods; and (4) support and 
enhance the existing and developing economic activities in Washington 
and northern St. Tammany Parishes that rely on the highway network to 
reach their markets by providing a travel time savings.
    The Corps defines the overall project purpose as to construct a 
four-lane arterial highway from the southern terminus of LA 21 in Bush, 
Louisiana, to I-12. The need for the project is to meet a legislative 
mandate in Louisiana Revised Statute 47:820.2B(e), which requires, 
``[t]he Louisiana Highway 3241 project from Interstate 12 to Bush* * 
*shall be constructed as a [four]-lane or more highway.''
    The project area is entirely within St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, 
and roughly bounded by LA 21, U.S. Highway (US) 190, I-12, US 11, and 
LA 41. It encompasses approximately 245 square miles in area and 
includes the incorporated areas of Abita Springs, Pearl River, and 
portions of the cities of Slidell and Covington. Unincorporated areas 
such as Bush, Hickory, Talisheek, and Waldheim are included in the 
project area.
    The DEIS examines the No Build Alternative, Alternative B/O, 
Alternative J, Alternative P, and Alternative Q as the principal 
alternatives for detailed analysis. These alternatives are described in 
the following paragraphs.
    Alternative 1: No Build Alternative. Under the No Build 
Alternative, the Corps would not issue any permits for construction of 
a new modern, high-speed, four-lane highway between Bush and I-12. As a 
result, the existing roadway network in the region would remain in its 
current condition and continue to serve as the transportation network 
to travel between Bush and I-12. The No Build Alternative ensures that 
there would be no direct or indirect impacts to threatened and 
endangered species, wetlands, environmentally sensitive areas, aquatic 
resources, or historic sites. Including the CEQ-required No Build 
Alternative in the EIS serves as a benchmark against which build 
alternatives can be evaluated. If the proposed highway is not 
constructed, project-related impacts would be avoided. Other 
alternatives would have to be developed to provide anticipated project 
benefits.
    Alternative 2: Alternative B/O. Under Alternative B/O, LA 21 would 
be widened to a four-lane highway from Bush to just north of Waldheim, 
then continue as a new four-lane roadway approximately 5 miles west of 
LA 1083, terminating at LA 1088 near I-12. The alternative would be 
approximately 19.5 miles long, with 7.0 miles on existing alignment and 
12.5 miles on new alignment. The majority of the alignment would 
consist of an RA-3 typical cross section, which would have a typical 
ROW width requirement of 250 feet. Control of access could be provided 
except where the highway follows existing LA 21 and highway crossings 
at LA 435 and LA 36, and the connection to LA 1088.
    Alternative 3: Alternative J. Under Alternative J, a new four-lane 
highway following the abandoned railroad corridor would be constructed 
from Bush to a point due north of the Slidell Municipal Airport. From 
that point, the proposed route would connect to Airport Road, which 
ties into I-12 at an existing interchange (Exit 80). This proposed 
route would be approximately 21.1 miles long, with 14.2 miles using the 
abandoned railroad embankment, 5.4 miles on new alignment, and 1.5 
miles of existing roadway. The majority of the route (17.5 miles) would 
consist of an RA-3 typical cross section, which would have a typical 
ROW width of 250 feet. The northern 0.7 mile of the route would consist 
of a rural arterial-2 (RA-2) cross section, while the southern 1.9 
miles would have suburban arterial SA-1 cross section. Control of 
access to the route could be provided for the section of highway 
classified as RA-3 (17.5 miles), except for the segment through 
Talisheek (2.0 miles) and where the highway crosses LA 435 and LA 36.
    Alternative 4: Alternative P. Under Alternative P, a new alignment 
would begin at the intersection of LA 41 and LA 40 in Bush and proceed 
southward for approximately 17.4 miles to LA 1088. The majority of the 
project (15.2 miles) would consist of an RA-3 typical cross section, 
which has a typical ROW width requirement of 250 feet. The northern 0.7 
mile of the project would consist of an RA-2 cross section, which also 
has a ROW width of 250 feet. The exception to that design would be at 
the southern end of the project area. The last 1.5 miles would be 
designed as a suburban arterial -1 typical section, which has a ROW 
width of approximately 180 feet. The proposed route would use an 
abandoned railroad corridor from Bush to Talisheek, a distance of 
approximately 2.5 miles, before turning southwesterly for approximately 
13.3 miles on a new alignment to connect with LA 1088 north of I-12. 
Access for this route would be provided in Bush, at LA 435, at LA 36, 
and at the intersection with LA 1088. Crossings of existing highways 
would be at grade.
    Alternative 5: Alternative Q. Under Alternative Q, a new four-lane 
highway following the abandoned railroad corridor would be constructed 
from Bush to a point approximately 1.7 miles north of LA 36. From that 
point, the proposed route would leave the railroad corridor and connect 
to LA 434, which ties into I-12 at an existing interchange (Exit 74). 
This alternative would be approximately 19.8 miles long, with 9.8 miles 
using the abandoned railroad embankment, 8.7 miles on new alignment, 
and 1.3 miles on existing roadway. The majority of the alternative 
(17.2 miles) would consist of an RA-3 typical cross section, which 
would have a typical ROW width of 250 feet. The northern 0.7 miles of 
the route would have an RA-2 cross section, with a ROW width of 250 
feet. Control of access to the route could be provided for the section 
of highway classified as RA-3 (17.3 miles), except for the segment 
through Talisheek (2.0 miles) and where the highway crosses LA 435, LA 
36, and connects to LA 434.
    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we

[[Page 55889]]

have filed the DEIS with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
for publication of their notice of availability in the Federal 
Register. The EPA notice officially starts the 45-day review period for 
this document. It is the goal of the USACE to have this notice 
published on the same date as the EPA notice. However, if that does not 
occur, the date of the EPA notice will determine the closing date for 
comments on the DEIS.
    Scoping: A Scoping Meeting was held in Abita Springs, Louisiana, on 
January 22, 2009 to solicit input from interested agencies and the 
public regarding the range of issues and alternatives that should be 
considered in the EIS. A Public notice was posted on the District's 
webpage and local newspapers, and mailed to current stakeholder lists 
with notification of the public meetings and requesting input and 
comments on issues that should be addressed in the DEIS.
    A public hearing for this DEIS will be held on September 28, 2011 
from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Abita Springs, Louisiana, at the Abita Springs 
Town Hall located on 22161 Level Street. The purpose of this public 
hearing is to provide the public the opportunity to comment, either 
orally or in writing, on the DEIS. Notification of the hearing will be 
announced following the same format as the Scoping Meetings 
announcements.
    The DEIS is available online on the New Orleans District Web site 
at http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/ops/regulatory/reg_regulatory_news.asp and the I-12 to Bush Web site at http://www.i12tobush.com. 
Copies of the DEIS are also available for review at the following 
libraries:
    1. St. Tammany Parish Library:
    --Abita Springs Branch, 71683 Leveson Street, Abita Springs, LA 
70420.
    --Bush Branch, 81597 Highway 41, Bush, LA 70431.
    --Covington Branch, 310 W. 21st Avenue, Covington, LA 70433.
    --Lee Road Branch, 79213 Highway 40, Covington, LA 70435.
    --Mandeville Branch, 844 Girod Street, Mandeville, LA 70448.
    --Pearl River Branch, 64580 Highway 41, Pearl River, LA 70452.
    --Slidell Branch, 555 Robert Boulevard, Slidell, LA 70458.
    2. Franklinton Library, 825 Free Street, Franklinton, LA 70438.
    3. Bogalusa Library, 304 Avenue F, Bogalusa, LA 70427.
    4. Louisiana State Library, 701 North 4th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 
70802.
    5. University of New Orleans, Earl K. Long Library, Louisiana 
Collection, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA 70148.

    Dated: August 25, 2011.
Pete J. Serio,
Chief, Regulatory Division.
[FR Doc. 2011-23085 Filed 9-8-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3720-58-P



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