State and federal laws require a formal review of projects that may affect the environment. Caltrans is required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead federal agency in the environmental review process for the East Span Project.
East Span Project - NEPA Process
Caltrans and FHWA began the NEPA environmental review for the East Span Project by filing a Notice of Intent to prepare a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in the Federal Register on April 21, 1997. A scoping process was used to gather public input and help develop project alternatives to be studied in the FEIS. Scoping meetings were held jointly by MTC's Bay Bridge Design Task Force, FHWA, and Caltrans during the spring of 1997, and were attended by members of various interest groups and the general public.
As part of the NEPA process Caltrans and FHWA released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in September 1998. An EIS studies a reasonable range of alternatives, which partly or fully meet the project's purpose and need and identifies the potential environmental impact of each alternative. Information contained in an FEIS allows an informed decision to be made in recommending an alternative for implementation.
Following the release of the DEIS, four public hearings were held in October 1998. A 60-day public comment period was also observed. Nearly 700 public and agency comments were received. The primary topics included requests for more detailed information about mitigation measures, dredged material disposal and reuse, land use developments and impacts, the development of commuter rail on the bridge, bike path designs, and discussion of the project's purpose and need.
Caltrans has actively addressed the diverse concerns of many state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and individuals. Responses to comments are included in the FEIS.
The FEIS was released in May 2001. The FEIS provides updated information on the alternatives, impacts, and mitigation measures, and incorporates responses to public and agency comments on the DEIS. The FEIS is posted on Caltrans District 4 Website. The Notice of Availability (NOA) was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2001. The FHWA can file a Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register after June 18, 2001. The ROD will close the NEPA environmental review process, explain the reasons for the project decision, and summarize mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. Construction of the East Span Project is targeted to begin in 2002.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the NEPA/404 Integration Process outlines the means of integrating the procedures of NEPA with the procedures of Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act. MOU signatories include the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Federal Transit Administration, FHWA, and Caltrans. In 1997 and 1998, following a series of meetings about the project pursuant to the MOU, the MOU signatory agencies concurred in the purpose and need for the project.
The purpose of the project is to:
The MOU signatories concurred in the criteria for alternative selection, as follows:
Based on preliminary studies, scoping, recommendations from MTC, and the participation of the NEPA/404 MOU signatory agencies, Caltrans studied five alternatives for implementing the East Span Project: No-Build, Retrofit, and three Replacement Alternatives.
The MOU signatories agreed on the range of alternatives, concurring that the following alternatives would be studied during the environmental process:
This is a standard EIS alternative. It studies the impacts of taking no action and serves as a point of comparison for the impacts of the other alternatives.
This alternative would seismically strengthen the existing bridge to withstand a design event earthquake. It would not, however, fully meet Caltrans standards for a lifeline route, nor would it meet current design and operational standards or increase the useful life of the bridge to the extent of the replacement alternatives. The retrofit alternative would not include a pedestrian/bicycle path.
Each of the three replacement alternatives would construct a new bridge and would dismantle the existing East Span. Each replacement alternative has a different alignment.
Each of the replacement alternatives could perform as a lifeline route and would meet current design and operational standards. The replacement alternatives would include a pedestrian/bicycle path.