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Interstate 81

Corridor Study:   Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the purpose of the Process Streamlining Agreement between the Federal Highway Administration and VDOT? ement serves as an innovative means to define the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study approach and certain decision points. It assigns accountability for critical study elements and actions and openly informs the public of the agencies’ approach. This study is being performed under the auspices of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

When will an outcome be identified?
VDOT and FHWA will conduct studies to evaluate the existing transportation system to identify deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. In Tier 1, these opportunities – or improvement concepts – will be evaluated to determine their effectiveness and potential impacts. Based on the Tier 1 EIS, the Commonwealth Transportation Board and FHWA will select “no-build” or an improvement concept to advance to Tier 2. Detailed studies of the environmental impacts of this improvement concept will be completed in Tier 2.

What is tiering?
The tiering of Environmental Impact Statements is flexible and allows broad discretion on issues to be addressed in first and second tier environmental documents. Unlike a traditional Draft and Final EIS and Record of Decision, many process requirements for a tiered EIS can be uniquely defined for a particular situation. The I-81 Corridor Improvement Study is designed to consist of a Tier 1 Draft EIS, a Tier 1 Final EIS, and a Tier 1 Record of Decision, followed by Tier 2 NEPA document(s). Site-specific analyses and approvals will be elements of Tier 2 studies.

When will the public have an opportunity to participate in the study?
There will be numerous opportunities for public participation in the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study, including public meetings, an Internet Web site, and a continuously monitored E-mail account through which anyone can provide comments.

How will rail options be considered in the study?
Detailed traffic and transportation studies will be conducted to identify transportation deficiencies associated with the I-81 corridor. Potential solutions that address these deficiencies, including rail and a combination of rail and highway, will be evaluated to determine their ability to address those deficiencies.

Will the study consider the options for improving I-81 proposed by two companies through the PPTA?
As noted in the agreement, VDOT and FHWA will rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. We anticipate that the improvement concepts evaluated could include the options proposed through the PPTA process.

Can PPTA and NEPA proceed simultaneously?
Yes. The PPTA process does not influence the NEPA process. The outcomes of the NEPA process will influence the PPTA process.

When will we see bulldozers?
Not in the near future. NEPA is required by federal law to be completed prior to the authorization of federal funds or other federal actions such as toll approval and/or interstate access modification.

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