Summary

S.1 Introduction

Figure S - 1: Study Area

This section of the I-69 Evansville to Indianapolis Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) encapsulates the critical aspects of the study process and its major findings. First, the proposed federal action is described with the focus on its purpose and goals. Next, a discussion of "tiering" is provided to aid in understanding what this study is and is not intended to do. Other critical features of the study, such as technical tools and public outreach measures are also described. The major phases of the study are then identified. This is followed by a summary of the major performance, cost, and environmental impact issues associated with the alternatives. A summary comparison of the alternatives is then provided, followed by a brief discussion of areas of controversy and other related federal actions. Finally, the critical findings of the DEIS are discussed along with the next steps in the environmental process and a glossary of terms. This DEIS consists of three volumes. Volume I is this document. Volume II is the Appendix. Volume III is the Environmental Atlas.

S.2 Proposed Action

The proposed action is the completion of an Interstate highway connecting Evansville and Indianapolis, Indiana. The northern terminus of the project is I-465 on the south side of Indianapolis and southern terminus is I-69 just north of Evansville. Figure S-1 depicts the 26-county Study Area in which alternative corridors for connecting these two cities were analyzed.

The project is part of a larger, national proposal to connect the three North American trading partners of Canada, the Unites States and Mexico by means of an Interstate highway located in the states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas (see Figure S-2). This part of the national proposal is Section of Independent Utility (SIU) Number 3, as defined in I-69 (Corridor 18) Special Environmental Study: Sections of Independent Utility (August 25, 1999) and concurred in by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in a letter dated September 27, 1999 (see Appendix Z). SIU Number 1 extends from Port Huron, Michigan to I-465 on the northeast side of Indianapolis. This section of I-69 is already built. SIU Number 2 begins on the northeast side of Indianapolis and ends on the south side. The Indiana Department of Transportation 

(INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are currently working with FHWA on environmental studies of the next section to the south - SIU Number 4 - which will determine the location for I-69 between I-64 on the north side of Evansville to the Breathitt Parkway on the south side of Henderson, Kentucky.

The purpose of the I-69 Evansville to Indianapolis Project is to provide an improved transportation link between Evansville and Indianapolis which:

Figure S-2: National I-69 Corridor
The following goals support this Purpose Statement. These are goals based on consideration of state and federal policies, as well as the assessment of transportation and economic development needs in Southwest Indiana. The statements which are highlighted in bold and italics have been identified as core goals for this project. For each of the core goals, the selected alternative must achieve a substantial improvement over the existing condition. The derivation of these goals is further described in Chapter 2, Purpose and Need.

Strengthen the Transportation Network in Southwest Indiana
1. Improve the transportation linkage between Evansville and Indianapolis. (core goal)
2. Improve personal accessibility for Southwest Indiana residents. (core goal)

3. Reduce existing and forecasted traffic congestion on the highway network in Southwest Indiana.
4. Reduce traffic safety problems.

Support Economic Development in Southwest Indiana
5. Increase accessibility for Southwest Indiana businesses to labor, suppliers, and markets.
6. Support sustainable, long-term economic growth (diversity of employer types).
7. Support economic development that benefits a wide spectrum of Southwest Indiana residents (distribution of economic benefits).

Complete the portion of the National I-69 Project between Evansville and Indianapolis
8. Facilitate interstate and international movements of freight through the I-69 corridor, in a manner consistent with the national I-69 policies. (core goal)
9. Connect I-69 to major intermodal facilities in Southwest Indiana.

S.3 Process Overview - Tiering, Technical Tools, and Public Outreach

The I-69 Evansville to Indianapolis Study is a large and complex environmental study. In his letter of September 27, 1999, FHWA's Southern Resource Center Director stated "…I-69 is a massive undertaking for the nation and the implications are monumental. The challenges before us are unique, different in scale, and complex. Our normal and routine way of advancing projects will not apply." (See Appendix Z.) The uniqueness of I-69 is reflected in three aspects of the study that are highlighted here. The first is "tiering" or conducting the environmental study process in two stages. The second has to do with the technical tools used in modeling and assessing environmental impacts. The third is the significant effort in public outreach and agency coordination, which seeks to involve all interested parties throughout the study process. Each of these is discussed, in turn, below.

S.3.1 Tiering

This study is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Evansville-to-Indianapolis section of I-69 in Indiana. It is conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the NEPA regulations issued by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), 40 CFR Part 1500, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 23 CFR Part 771.

The CEQ and FHWA guidelines permit NEPA studies for very large, complex projects to be carried out in a two-staged, "tiered" process. In the first tier, the "big picture" issues are addressed, while taking into account the full range of impacts. After the "big picture" issues are resolved in Tier 1, the focus shifts in Tier 2 NEPA studies to issues associated with a more exact measurement of impacts, and the avoidance and mitigation of adverse impacts. The difference in focus is one of degree. When exact data are needed in order to resolve the first tier issues, these data are collected and analyzed.

The Evansville-to-Indianapolis section of I-69 is indeed large and characterized by several complex issues, as the following facts suggest.

To accommodate the large, complex scope of this project, the FHWA and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) have decided to use a "tiered" environmental process. The current project is a Tier 1 EIS. The "big picture" issues this EIS is intended to resolve are: (1) whether or not to complete I-69 in Southwestern Indiana, and if so, (2) which corridor should I-69 use.

Figure S-3: Tiering Process and Tier 1 Activities

If a "build alternative" is selected by this process, Tier 2 NEPA studies will be undertaken. In these Tier 2 NEPA studies, a specific alignment will be determined, and detailed environmental mitigation plans will be specified. The Tier 2 NEPA studies will be prepared for smaller, stand-alone projects within the selected corridor. The termini for proposed Tier 2 NEPA studies are identified in Chapter 3, Alternatives. The procedures for Tier 2 are explained in Section 1.2, Tier 2 NEPA Studies.

Within this Tier 1 Study, there were three levels of analysis, which are depicted in Figure S-3. These include:

The information in this DEIS is presented to solicit public and review agency comment. These comments will be considered in preparing a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). If the build option is chosen, the FEIS will recommend a preferred corridor for the highway. For further information on tiering, see Chapter 5.1, Methodology for Evaluating Environmental Impacts and Appendix X, FHWA Tiering Memorandum.

S.3.2 Technical Tools

Two technical tools have played a central role in the conduct of this study. These tools are: (1) a regional geographic information system (GIS); and (2) transportation and economic forecasting tools.

Each are briefly described below.

Figure S-4: Illustration of GIS Layering

S.3.2.1 Geographic Information System

A geographic information system (GIS) was developed specifically for this study which incorporates all 26 counties in the Study Area. A GIS is a computer representation of data which are geographically located. These data can be generated and displayed to show their physical locations. Each data set containing a certain type of information (e.g., the location of wetlands) constitutes a "layer" in the GIS. GIS layers can be superimposed to show the relationship between the location of different items.

Figure S-4 depicts this layering concept. The working alignment for each alternative is superimposed upon resource layers in order to determine its impact on those resources. For example, the highway's working alignment could be superimposed upon a GIS layer showing the location of wetlands. With this visual information, where possible the working alignment could be shifted to avoid taking the wetlands.

Once the GIS was developed, each alternative was mapped using a set of three overlapping geographic "bands" as described below and depicted in Figure S-5:
Figure S-5: Illustration of Study Band, Corridor and Working Alignment

The GIS was the initial tool used to estimate the impacts of each alternative. With this initial information, the GIS data was subsequently verified and supplemented extensively by field visits and additional data gathering. The location of resources was field verified within the two-mile study band.

Additional information about the GIS is described in Chapter 4.1. Refer to the Environmental Atlas, which is Volume III of this DEIS and depicts the corridors and working alignments in relation to many of the resource layers.

S.3.2.2 Forecasting Tools

In addition to the GIS, other technical tools were developed and used for this study. These tools, which provide transportation and economic forecasts, were combined to produce forecasts of indirect impacts.

The Indiana Statewide Travel Demand Model (ISTDM) is a GIS-based tool which combines forecasts of population and employment to predict future traffic flows on the highway network. These forecasts are for the year 2025. By inserting new or improved roads into a computer image of the transportation network (such as different route concepts for I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis), it is possible to forecast the different effects which each alternative will have on the transportation system. These effects include differences in traffic volumes and congestion levels.

Many studies of this nature make use of travel demand models for planning purposes. However, in this study, the ISTDM was merely the starting point in a process that generated a variety of transportation and economic performance measures. These measures are discussed in Chapter 3, Alternatives.
Figure S-6: Flow Diagram of Conventional and I-69 Tier 1 Modeling Processes

Figure S-6 shows the normal travel demand modeling process in the blue boxes on the left side of the diagram. This conventional modeling process served as only the starting point in an expanded process that involved the integration of transportation and economic modeling components. This expanded process is depicted on the right side of the diagram.

In addition to travel demand modeling, analysis was conducted to compute the benefits of each alternative accruing to the transportation "users" (i.e., individuals, on-the-clock workers, businesses, truckers, etc.). Specifically, these benefits are: (1) reduced travel times and associated costs or longer distance travel within the same travel time budget; (2) changes in vehicle operating costs; and (3) reduced accident costs. This process step is shown in yellow in Figure S-6.

Once user benefits were calculated, they were further broken down into impacts that directly affect existing businesses and markets. These steps are shown in gray.

Following these steps, a state-of-the-art regional economic forecasting model was used (also shown in gray). The REMI Model (short for Regional Economic Model, Inc.) replicates in detail the economy of the Study Area, the rest of Indiana, as well as neighboring states. It models the relationship between components of the economy to forecast a wide variety of economic indicators, such as employment, income, labor force composition, and population.

REMI forecasts of increased population and employment (in red) were then "fed back" into the ISTDM in later stages of the study. These forecasts account for the full level of traffic impacts which would result from increases in population and employment expected from economic development stimulated by the highway. This "feedback loop" is an application of economic model forecasts to determine the effect of highway-induced growth on traffic levels. The traffic forecasts provided in Chapter 3.4, Detailed Performance and Cost Analysis of Alternatives, include this "induced" traffic for each alternative.

The REMI forecasts of increased population and employment were also used to predict indirect impacts on land use and key resources. A stated goal of this project is to support economic development in Southwest Indiana. Economic development brings more population and jobs, which result in additional land being used for residences and businesses. The analysis in Chapter 5, Environmental Consequences, includes estimates of land taken (and resources affected) by additional economic development which would result from a highway (i.e., indirect effects). This is in addition to the land taken and resources affected by the direct impact of the highway (i.e., right-of-way for the highway and interchanges).

S.3.3 Public and Agency Outreach

Figure S-7: Public Involvement

This project has had substantial public outreach activities. In February 2000, then commissioner of INDOT, Cristine Klika, said:

"This study is intended to achieve two goals: (1) making information about the study widely accessible to the public, as it is developed; and (2) providing meaningful opportunities for the public to provide input before key decisions are made."

This commitment has been reaffirmed by J. Bryan Nicol, the current commissioner of INDOT.

Major aspects to this public outreach effort are described below (See Figure S-7). More detail is given in Chapter 11 - Comments, Coordination, and Public Involvement.

In addition to these public involvement activities, this study has included extensive coordination with federal and state resource agencies and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Figure S-8 lists a combined chronology of formal public meetings and agency coordination meetings. These public and agency contact points have been timed to solicit information and provide input prior to decision-making milestones at all stages of the study process. Throughout the study process, input from agencies and members of the public have resulted directly in studying new alternatives, the shifting of working alignments, and the designation of some alternatives as non-preferred.

S.4 Scoping, Purpose and Need, and Preliminary Screening

Figure S-9: Route Concepts

This initial stage of the project involved identifying the range of alternatives to be studied (Scoping) and determining the project goals (Purpose and Need). This process began in January 2000. At the end of this process, several preliminary highway route concepts were identified and an initial Purpose and Need statement was produced which included project goals, and performance measures associated with each goal.

S.4.1 Scoping Process

Early in the study (in February 2000), meetings were held with federal and state review agencies to help frame the major issues and design a process for conducting the study. At these same meetings, "scoping" activities, which defined the range of alternatives to be studied, also were held. In March and April 2000, a series of public information meetings were held in Terre Haute, Bloomington, and Evansville. At these meetings the study process was explained. Those in attendance were asked to suggest routes which should be studied. Out of these meetings with both review agencies and the public, several alternatives were suggested.

Figure S-9 shows the corridors which were designated as "route concepts" in the scoping process. Fourteen such route concepts, were designated with the letters A - N. Several of these routes included options near Indianapolis. Counting these options, there were a total of 19 route concepts. Some of the route concepts (D, G, and K) grew out of the meetings and input process described in the paragraphs above, and were specifically suggested for inclusion by review agencies or citizens. This process is described in detail in Chapter 3.2, Scoping and Development of Route Concepts.

S.4.2 Purpose and Need

Figure S-10: Difference Between Real and Straight-Line Travel Time between Indianapolis and Regional Cities

The Purpose and Need was based on an analysis of the needs that could be addressed by a project (in this case, a transportation project). It resulted in the formulation of project goals based on identified needs, and performance measures used to assess how well alternatives satisfy these goals.

The formulation of the Purpose and Need was guided by a series of policy decisions over the last 10 years at the federal and state level. These included:

Key Federal Policies

Key State Policies

Figure S-11: Accessibility to Employment

The Purpose and Need was also based on a comprehensive Needs Assessment of the no-build condition. In order to avoid overstating needs, the modeling used in this no-build assessment assumed that other sections of the National I-69 project had not yet been built. The Needs Assessment resulted in the following key findings and conclusions:

Transportation Needs Assessment - Key Findings

Economic Needs Assessment - Key Findings

Out of the Needs Assessment, ten project goals emerged. Subsequently, in Level 3 of the alternatives analysis, these ten were reduced to nine to consolidate two closely related goals. These are the nine goals shown on Page S-2.

The Purpose and Need is addressed in detail in Chapter 2 of this document.


1   All transportation and accessibility-related findings in the Purpose and Need assumed that certain high-priority projects will be built. These projects were treated as "given" in the transportation modeling analysis. Notable among these projects are the addition of lanes to I-70 between Terre Haute and Indianapolis and the upgrade of US 231 in Spencer and Dubois Counties.

2   The International Economic Development Council was known as the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) at the time they conducted their analysis.


S.4.3 Preliminary Screening

The Purpose and Need, including its goals and performance measures, were applied to each of the route concepts in order to determine which should be retained for further "Level 3" analysis. Given the large number of alternatives, and the variety of areas served, these route concepts were grouped geographically, in order to assure that a geographically diverse range of alternatives would be carried forward for further analysis. Former INDOT Commissioner Cristine Klika's memo of February 24, 2000 (mentioned above) addressed the need for geographic diversity as well. She stated:

"Once a broad range of alternatives has been developed, we will need to screen those alternatives in order to identify a set of reasonable alternatives for detailed study. In making this decision, we will consider - as we do in every study - the ability of each alternative to achieve the project's basic objectives. But in a study of this nature, we must be particularly careful to avoid prematurely eliminating alternatives that may later be found to have significant advantages in terms of environmental impacts or costs. Therefore, we should seek to carry forward a geographically diverse range of alternatives in order to allow maximum flexibility in selecting a preferred alternative."

Table S-1: Geographic Grouping of Alternatives

Cities Served

Western Group

Central Group
(Bloomington)

Central Group
(Non-Bloomington)

Eastern

A

C1

C2

E

B1

B2

D

F1

F2

G

H1

H2

I

J

M

K

L1

L2

N

Evansville

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Terre Haute

X

                                   

Princeton

X

X

X

X

X

X

                         

Vincennes

X

X

X

X

   

X

                       

Linton

 

X

X

X

   

X

                       

Washington

       

X

X

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

X

X

 

Bloomington

       

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

     

X

X

X

 

Jasper

                           

X

     

X

Bedford

                               

X

X

X

Martinsville

   

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

 

X

X

             

Indianapolis

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

SOURCE: Bernardin, Lochumeller and Associates

Therefore, in applying the goals and performance measures in the Purpose and Need, alternatives first were grouped geographically with the understanding that at least one alternative from each geographic area would be carried forward for further analysis. For purposes of screening, alternatives were divided into four groups. These groups included a Western Group, a Central Group with Bloomington Connection, a Central Group with no Bloomington Connection, and an Eastern Group.3 They are categorized as follows:


3     A sensitivity analysis was conducted that tested a wide range of geographic grouping criteria. (See Appendix D, Sensitivity Analysis and Screening Methodology.) This analysis showed that the selection of best performing alternatives was not dependent upon the exact definition of the geographic groups. In other words, across a wide variety of geographic groupings, a very similar set of alternatives would have been selected for further study.


Table S-2: Screening and Consolidation of Route Concepts by Major Geographic Region Served
Goal Objective Western Central
Bloomington
Central
Non-Bloomington
Eastern
A C1 C2 E B1 B2 D F1 F2 G H1 H2 I J M K L1 L2 N
Transportation INDY-EVV CONNECTION  *** **** **** *** *** *** * ***** ***** **** ***** ***** ***** ***** ** *** **** *** *
PERSONAL ACCESSIBILITY ** *** **** ** ***** ***** ***** **** ***** **** ***** ***** ** *** **** *** ***** ***** *****
Traffic Congestion Relief * *** *** * **** **** **** *** **** *** *** **** *** *** *** ***** *** **** ***
Traffic Safety *** *** ***** *** **** ***** ***** *** ***** *** **** ***** ** *** *** *** ***** ***** *****
Economic Development Monetary User Benefits ** *** *** * *** **** * **** ***** *** *** **** **** *** ** ** *** ** *
Business Markets Accessibility ** *** *** *** **** ***** *** ***** ***** **** ***** ***** *** *** *** ***** **** **** ****
Long-Term Economic Growth * * **** * *** ***** **** ** **** *** *** ***** ** ** *** *** *** ***** *****
Social Distribution of Benefits ** **** ***** *** **** ***** ***** **** ***** **** **** ***** **** **** **** ***** **** ***** *****
National I-69 INTERSTATE/INTERNAT'L TRADE * *** *** ** *** **** *** **** ***** *** **** **** *** *** *** ***** *** **** ****
Intermodel Accessibility ** ***** **** *** **** **** *** ***** ***** **** ***** **** **** ***** ** **** **** **** ***
Costs Capital Costs $ $$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ $$$ $$ $$$$ $$$$ $ $ $ $$$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$
O&M Costs $ $$$$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Eliminate Weaker Alts         X X X X     X     X   X X     X
Consolidate Stronger Alts   A C1 + C2     F1 + F2 (with "H Option")   J     L1 + L2  
Alts Carried Forward   1 2 3 4 5

Route concepts were evaluated against the project goals and performance measures within their geographic groups. Table S-1 gives the geographic grouping of route concepts. Table S-2 shows the performance of each route concept on each criterion (cost as well as Purpose and Need), and shows the routes which were recommended for further study. For a detailed discussion of the application of these criteria, see Appendix O, Route Concept Screening Report.

In November 2001, public meetings were held to discuss the alternatives proposed for further study. In addition, meetings were held with environmental review agencies and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). At these venues and at other times in the public involvement process, key points were made which resulted in modifications of the alternatives carried forward for detailed study.  These modifications included:

The alternatives carried forward for further Level 3 study are listed in Table S-3 along with their new names. They are also shown in Figure S-11.

Table S-3: Alternatives Carried Forward for Level 3 Analysis

Alternative Description Old Name New Name
Evansville-Vincennes-Terre Haute  via US 41-Indianapolis via I-7- A 1
Evansville-Vincennes via US 41 - Spencer-Indianapolis via US 321 AND i-70 C-1 2A
Evansville-Vincennes via US 41-Spencer-Indianapolis via SR 67 and new alignment to I-70 C-2 2B
Evansville-Vincennes via US 41-Spencer-Martinsville-Indianapolis via SR 37 - 2C
Evansville-Washington-near Bloomington & Ellettsville-Indianapolis via new alignment and I-70 F-1 3A
Evansville-Washington-near Bloomington & Ellettsville-Indianapolis via SR 37 F-2 3B
Evansville-Washington-Bloomington-Martinsville and Indianapolis via SR 37 H-2 3C
Evansville-Washington-Spencer-Indianapolis via US 231 and I-70 I 4A
Evansville-Washington-Spencer-Indianapolis via via SR 67 and new alignment to I-70 J-1 4B
Evansville-Washington-Spencer-Martinsville-Indianapolis via SR 37 - 4C
Evansville-Washington-Bedford-Bloomington-Martinsville-Indianapolis via new alignment to I-70 L-1 5A
Evansville-Washington-Bedford-Bloomington-Martinsville-Indianapolis via SR 37 L-2 5B
Source: Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, Inc.
Figure S - 12: Alternatives Carried Forward to Level 3

S.5 Performance, Cost and Environmental Impact Analysis

Alternatives carried forward for further study in Level 3 underwent analysis of their performance, cost, and impacts. The following sections summarize the findings of these analyses.

S.5.1 Performance and Cost Analysis

In this analysis, "induced traffic" was considered. Induced traffic includes additional travel resulting from: (1) economic development stimulated by the alternative, and (2) the assumption that National I-69 has been completed. Including induced growth is a cautious assumption which assures that impacts are not understated.

In analyzing the alternatives carried forward for further study, several common themes or "factors" become evident which explain why certain alternatives perform well and others do not. These factors, differ from project goal to project goal. In addition, for some project goals, multiple factors were in evidence. Factors associated with high performance and factors associated with moderate performance are discussed below.

Factors Associated with Highest Levels of Performance
Figure S - 13: Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The following factors were found to be associated with high levels of performance in terms of the project's goals.

Factors Associated with Moderate Levels of Performance

These factors demonstrate that there are a variety of needs, and that alternatives perform at different levels for different goals.

Table S-4 groups the alternatives into "high," "medium," and "low" performance categories. There are seven alternatives whose performance is predominantly high in their ability to meet the project's goals. These are Alternatives 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4C, 5A, and 5B. Each performs high or medium on all core goals, as defined in the Chapter 2, Purpose and Need. Each has a high rating on at least six of the nine project goals. None of these alternatives is ever in a low category for a project goal. Alternatives 3A, 3B, and 3C are the only alternatives with high ratings for all three of the core goals. Only one alternative scores very highly over all nine project goals: 3B. Alternative 3C scores high on eight of the nine goals. Alternative 4B is a moderately high performer with high scores on Evansville-Indianapolis travel time reduction and intermodal access and several medium scores. It is the best of the alternatives that approach Indianapolis on I-70.

Alternative 4B is a moderately high performer with high scores on Evansville-Indianapolis travel time reduction and intermodal access and several medium scores. It is the best of the alternatives that approach Indianapolis on I-70.

On the other hand, Alternative 1 performs much more poorly than any other alternative in terms of satisfying the purpose and need for this project.

Table S5: Capital Costs by Alternative

Capital Cost

Alternative

Low

High

Average

1

$ 810,000,000

$ 1,040,000,000

$ 930,000,000

2A

$ 1,090,000,000

$ 1,270,000,000

$ 1,180,000,000

2B

$ 1,170,000,000

$ 1,370,000,000

$ 1,270,000,000

2C

$ 1,470,000,000

$ 1,740,000,000

$ 1,610,000,000

3A

$ 1,290,000,000

$ 1,380,000,000

$ 1,340,000,000

3B

$ 1,650,000,000

$ 1,820,000,000

$ 1,740,000,000

3C

$ 1,640,000,000

$ 1,810,000,000

$ 1,730,000,000

4A

$ 960,000,000

$ 1,040,000,000

$ 1,000,000,000

4B

$ 1,040,000,000

$ 1,120,000,000

$ 1,080,000,000

4C

$ 1,340,000,000

$ 1,500,000,000

$ 1,420,000,000

5A

$ 1,610,000,000

$ 1,810,000,000

$ 1,710,000,000

5B

$ 1,670,000,000

$ 1,850,000,000

$ 1,760,000,000

SOURCE: Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, Inc.

Table S-5 reports the total capital costs for each alternative. These costs are inclusive of engineering, right-of-way and construction.

Although Alternatives 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4C, 5A, and 5B are generally superior performers from the standpoint of satisfying project goals, it is clear from Table S-5 that with the exception of 4B, these same alternatives tend to have higher costs associated with them. Excluding Alternative 4B, the average construction costs for these alternatives is between $1.34 and $1.76 billion. In addition, as will be discussed below, these high performing alternatives tend to have higher environmental impacts. By comparison, the other alternatives have average construction costs ranging from $0.93 to $1.27 billion. See Chapter 3.4, Level 3: Detailed Performance and Cost Analysis of Alternatives for more specifics. In Chapter 6, Comparison of Alternatives, the trade-offs among performance, costs, and impacts are more fully discussed.

S.5.2 Environmental Impacts Analysis

I-69 would have a wide range of impacts to the natural and human environment. Following is a summary of the major issues and findings of the environmental impact analysis for this Tier 1 EIS.

Figure S-14: Indiana Farmland

Figure S-15: Indiana Forest Lands

Figure S - 16: Indiana Wetlands

Ecosystem Impacts - Figure S-13 shows the environmentally sensitive areas with regard to the alternatives. Environmentally sensitive areas that may be impacted by this project include Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, Tincher Special Area, Beanblossom Bottoms, Blue Springs Cavern, Martin State Forest, Flat Creek, and Prides Creek.

Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1994 and consists of 2,670 acres within the potential purchase area boundary of 22,083 acres. The refuge is one of the most significant hardwood bottomland forest ecosystems in the state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has agreed to a corridor to be preserved for a highway through the refuge area if one of these alternatives is selected.

The Tincher Special Area of the Hoosier National Forest encompasses approximately 4,180 acres. It is a unique ecosystem with field work having identified 18 species unique to this location. An area with 20 such species is considered a habitat of "global significance." Alternative 5A and 5B would bisect and severely impact the central part of this ecosystem.

The Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve is considered a high biodiversity area by the Nature Conservancy. Alternative 3A would require between 20 and 30 acres of land from this nature preserve.

Blue Springs Cavern is a privately owned cave that is a unique karst resource. Alternative 5A and 5B directly impact the caverns.

Martin State Forest is a 7,023 acre high quality forest ecosystem. It provides high quality habitat for a number of plant and animal species. Alternative 5A and 5B pass through the middle of a portion of this forest.

Flat Creek Wetland Complex provides habitat for a number of federally and state listed threatened and endangered species. Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 would impact approximately 0.5 - 1 acre of this wetland complex.

Prides Creek Wetland Complex includes a mixture of emergent, scrub shrub, and forested wetlands. Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 would impact approximately 2 - 2.5 acres of this complex.

Noise Impacts - Alternatives 2C, 3B, 3C, 4C, and 5B have the potential to impact the most residences with regard to noise. Alternatives 3A, 4A, and 4B would impact the fewest residences with regard to noise.

Farmland Impacts - Alternative 1 represents the least impact, while Alternatives 3C, 4B, and 4C exhibit the highest potential for farmland acreage impact and crop production loss. With the exception of Alternative 1 and 4C, farmland acreage impacts for the alternatives range between 3,500 and 5,000 acres. Figure S-14 shows farmland loss in Indiana over many years. The I-69 alternatives, including direct and indirect impacts - would account for about 1.4% of the cumulative farmland loss that is forecasted to occur in Southwest Indiana between 2002 and 2025 or about 0.2% of the total 2002 estimated farmland acreage in Southwest Indiana.

Figure S - 17: High Relocation Areas

Figure S-18: Karst Features

Forests - Alternative 1 would have the fewest forest impacts with 110 to 170 acres. Alternatives 3A and 5A have the greatest forest impacts with 1,505 to 1,580 acres and 1,525 to 1,565 acres, respectively. Figure S-15 shows that forest acreage in Indiana has been increasing over the past 60 years. The I-69 alternatives, including direct and indirect impacts - would account for about 0.1% of the total forest acreage in 1998 for Southwestern Indiana.

Wetlands - Alternative 1 impacts the fewest number of wetland acres with 25 to 40 acres. Alternatives 3, 4 and 5 impact between 90 and 190 acres. Figure S-16 shows that wetland acreage in Indiana has been increasing over the past 50 years. The I-69 alternatives, including direct and indirect impacts - would account for about 0.1% of the total wetland acreage in the mid 1980s for Southwestern Indiana.

Water Quality - There is a high probability of potential impacts for karst areas such as Tincher Special Area and Blue Springs Cavern for Alternatives 5A and 5B. Alternatives 2 and 4 appear to be intermediate in their potential impacts to water quality issues. Alternative 1 crosses the least amount of open water ecosystems and impaired streams and crosses no karst areas.

Social - Alternatives 2A, 2B, 3A, 4A, and 4B would have the fewest relocation impacts. These alternatives avoid the heavily populated neighborhoods around Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Bloomington (see Figure S-17). The greatest impacts to neighborhoods are the alternatives that use SR 37 and end at I-465. These alternatives include 2C, 3B, 3C, 5A, and 5B.

Air Quality - The addition of any I-69 alternative to the Indianapolis Region Long-Range Plan will not jeopardize air quality conformity for Marion County. Likewise, the addition of any I-69 alternative to the Evansville Area Long-Range Plan will not jeopardize conformity with the SIP for Vanderburgh County.

Threatened and Endangered Species - Of the six federal species that should be considered for evaluation, Alternative 1 has the least potential for impact on these species. Alternative 5 appears to have the greatest potential for impacts to these species, while Alternative 3 comes near the Indiana Bat caves.

Karst Resources - A karst is a hilly landscape of caves and sinkholes that develops on some dissolving limestone formations. There are many karst area ecosystems within the study area (see Figure S-18). Alternatives 5A and 5B have the most impacts to these karst areas.

Section 106 Historic and Archaeology - In general, alternatives that pass through strip mining areas and through highly commercialized agricultural areas have less of an impact on historic properties. Alternatives that pass through certain areas of Daviess, Knox, Monroe, and Morgan Counties may impact historic farmsteads and landscape features.

S.6 Summary Comparison of Alternatives

In this section, significant advantages and disadvantages of each alternative are discussed. Table S-6 provides a tabular summary of comparative statistics. A more complete comparative discussion may be found in Chapter 6, Comparison of Alternatives. Core goals are italicized.

Alternative 1

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 2A

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 2B

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 2C

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 3A

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 3B

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 3C

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 4A

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 4B

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 4C

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 5A

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Alternative 5B

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

No_Build Alternative

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

S.7 Areas of Controversy

Since before the inception of this study, controversy has focused on the choice of a corridor for I-69 in Southwest Indiana. Many have argued strongly in favor of a route that would make exclusive use of existing divided highways, in particular, US 41 and I-70, to minimize environmental impacts. Others have argued just as forcefully that the choice of a US 41 / I-70 alternative would not fulfill the basic purpose of the study; that this could only be accomplished by a new, more direct route connecting Evansville to Indianapolis.

The critical issues associated with I-69 in Southwest Indiana have to do with farmland impacts, the extent and location of economic development that would be stimulated by the highway, the disruption of sensitive ecosystems, karst, and environmental resources.

There are trade-offs among these areas of concern. These issues will be continually addressed in the NEPA process through agency coordination and public involvement. Alternatives that minimize the impact to farmland also tend to have low transportation and associated economic benefits. Alternatives that would require relatively large farmland acreage tend to have somewhat lower impact on sensitive ecosystems. Other alternatives with comparatively modest farmland impacts tend to effect greater disruption to the natural environment, especially forests.

S.8 Regulatory Actions Associated with This Project

Coordination with all appropriate federal and state agencies has been initiated. Inventories and coordination with consulting parties pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act are under way for both historic and archaeological sites. Preliminary discussions regarding permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act have been undertaken with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act has been initiated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has been contacted for a 401 Water Quality Certification on wetlands and water quality.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has provided information on significant, ecological, and protected lands in the vicinity of the corridors, and state-listed threatened and endangered species. Coordination with IDNR (Division of Water) will be needed in crossing rivers and streams. An inventory on managed lands has been completed.

Coordination with the U.S. EPA has been initiated on the NEPA process. Environmental information requested by them has been included in the document.

S.9 Summary of Major Findings

In the following section, a summary of major study findings are provided followed by a discussion of the preferred and non-preferred alternative.

S.9.1 Findings

S.9.2 Preferred Alternatives

 

Table S-7: Preferred Versus Non-Preferred Alternatives
Preferred Alternatives 2C, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4C
Non-Preferred Alternatives 1, 2A, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, 5B

At this stage, a single preferred alternative has not been identified. However, some important preliminary conclusions have been reached. Table S-7 groups the alternatives into two categories. The top row identifies "preferred alternatives". The bottom row identifies those alternatives that are not preferred.

The non-preferred alternatives fall into two groups: (1) alternatives that are not preferred for environmental reasons; and (2) alternatives that are not preferred because of their poor performance in meeting the goals of the project as defined in Chapter 2, Purpose and Need.

Alternatives 3A, 5A, and 5B are not preferred for environmental reasons, even though they are among the better performers in terms of achieving the project's goals. These three alternatives have such serious impacts on critical, high quality natural areas that they present virtually insurmountable obstacles to selection as a preferred alternative, particularly in light of the availability of other alternatives with similar or better performance that avoid these highly sensitive resources. Alternative 3A would traverse the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, a very high quality natural area northwest of Bloomington. Alternatives 5A and 5B would bisect the Tincher Special Area of the Hoosier National Forest west of Bedford. Tincher is a unique ecosystem with a high likelihood of being designated a habitat of "global significance." Moreover, Alternatives 5A and 5B would pass over Blue Springs Cavern, a privately owned cave that is a unique karst resource. In the process of coordinating with federal and state resource agencies, Tincher Special Area and Beanblossom Bottoms were identified as particularly important among the ecosystems in the state. Accordingly, FHWA and INDOT have identified Alternatives 3A, 5A, and 5B as non-preferred alternatives.

While Alternative 1 would have relatively low impacts on the natural environment, it performs much more poorly than any other alternative in terms of satisfying the goals of the project. Alternative 1 is the only alternative with low performance on all project goals, including all three core goals. This poor performance can be explained in terms of the factors most frequently associated with high performing alternatives. These factors are: (1) service to Bloomington; (2) service to the SR 37 corridor; (3) short Evansville to Indianapolis mileage; (4) service to Western Morgan County; and (5) service to Crane Naval Warfare Center. By contrast, alternatives with low performance tend to be associated with few of these factors. One alternative (Alternative 1) has the poorest performance and is not associated with any of these factors.

Moreover, while Alternative 1 would have comparatively low impacts on the natural environment, it would result in the largest number of business building relocations.

Alternatives 2A, 2B, and 4A are also not preferred due to poor overall performance in terms of meeting the project's Purpose and Need. These three alternatives do not provide any "high" performance ratings for the nine project goals. 2A and 4A each have five "medium" ratings and four "low" ratings, while 2B has six "medium" ratings and three "low". These three alternatives each provide a "medium" level of performance for two of three core goals and "low" performance for the third.

Alternatives 2C, 3B, 3C, 4B and 4C are among the preferred alternatives. These alternatives are generally high performers that are not fatally flawed from an environmental perspective. Alternatives 2C, 3B, 3C and 4C have "high" performance ratings on at least 6 out of 9 project goals. Alternative 3B scores "high" on all nine project goals, while Alternative 3C scores "high" on eight of the nine.

Unlike 3A, it was possible to shift the working alignment of Alternative 3B to avoid Beanblossom Bottoms. This was not an issue for Alternative 3C, since it joins SR 37 on the south side of Bloomington. Adjustments were also made in the working alignment of Alternative 3 (A, B, and C) to avoid an important hibernaculum (cave) for the Indiana Bat. All of the preferred alternatives that make use of SR 37 (2C, 3B, 3C, and 4C) also benefited from a shift in the working alignment that avoids major housing developments near the northern terminus of the project.

Alternative 4B is also a reasonably strong performer. It is second only to 3B in travel time savings between Indianapolis and Evansville (one of the core goals). It also scores highly on improved access to intermodal facilities due to its proximity to the Indianapolis International Airport and it scores in the "medium" range on four other goals.

For all of these reasons, Alternatives 2C, 3B, 3C, 4B, and 4C are preferred alternatives, and Alternatives 1, 2A, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 5B are non-preferred alternatives.

S.10 Next Steps for Tier 1

Public hearings to discuss this document and its findings will be held on August 19 (in Terre Haute), August 20 (in Bloomington) and August 21 (in Evansville). Input from citizens will be sought at that time regarding the study and its findings. In the upcoming weeks, input from resource agencies also will be sought.

As comments are received, they will be considered to help determine: (1) whether to choose a build alternative; and if so (2) which corridor should be selected. Given the great variety in impacts, performance, and cost of the remaining alternatives, public and resource agency input will be very important in coming to a final decision.

If a "build" alternative is selected, Tier 2 NEPA studies will ensue. Procedures for Tier 2 are described in Section 1.5.

S.11 Glossary of Key Terms

A number of key terms used in this document are defined here.

Accessibility - The ability of people to reach desired destinations (such as employment, shopping, recreational facilities, medical facilities, cultural centers, airports, etc.). Accessible regions allow residents to reach many such destinations in a shorter period of time. Inaccessible regions allow residents to reach fewer destinations, and require longer periods of time.

Congestion - A condition in which the number of vehicles using a road approaches the capacity of that road. It is characterized by reduced travel speeds and (at high levels of congestion) stop-and-go conditions.

Cumulative Impact - Is defined by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations as "The impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions." (CEQ Regulations) Cumulative impacts include the direct and indirect impacts of a project together with the reasonably foreseeable future actions of others.

Economic Model - A computerized representation of the economy of a region. It models the interaction of components such as labor, capital, markets, and government policy. The model used in this study (the Regional Economic Model Inc. - REMI Model) analyzes the interaction of 53 industry categories with available markets, labor, and capital resources. It is used to forecast the economic effects of a significant change in policies which affect the economy - such as the construction of a new Interstate highway between Evansville and Indianapolis.

EIS - Environmental Impact Statement. A detailed document prepared as part of the NEPA process. A draft EIS (DEIS) is published to seek agency and public input. A final EIS (FEIS) adds (1) the comments and the responses to the DEIS and (2) selects a preferred alternative.

Forecast Year - A year, 20 - 25 years into the future, for which traffic forecasts are made. The design of any transportation facility must accommodate travel which would occur in the forecast year. For this study, the Forecast Year is 2025.

Geographic Information System (GIS) - A computer representation of data which is geographically distributed. These data can be generated and displayed to show their physical location. Each data set with a certain type of information (e.g., the location of wetlands) constitutes a "layer" in the GIS. GIS layers can be superimposed to show the relationship between the location of different items.

Historic Properties - Buildings, structures, sites, objects or districts which are an important part of the historical and cultural heritage of the United States.

Indirect Impacts - are defined by the CEQ Regulations as "effects which are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density, or growth rate..." (CEQ Regulations) For this project, an example of an indirect impact would be farmland bought by a developer to build a service station at an interchange.

Level of Service (LOS) Ratings - A scale measures the level of congestion on a road. It goes from A (free flowing traffic) to F (the highest level of congestion).

National Highway System (NHS) - A national system of highways, consisting of all Interstate Highways and other principal arterial highways. Federal policy is to focus Federal highway investments on these roads. The NHS includes 5% of the national roadway network but serves approximately 40% percent of the Nation's highway travel.

NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) - Legislation passed by the Congress in 1969 that requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Federal actions that may significantly impact the environment.

"No Build" Scenario - The scenario in which a proposed project is not built. All benefits and impacts are forecasted with reference to the "no build" scenario (also called the "No Action" alternative). The "No Build" scenario must remain under consideration throughout the study process.

Performance Measure - A rating (typically numerical) which assesses the degree to which an alternative satisfies a project goal.

Physiographic Region - An area characterized by consistency in soil and geology.

Purpose and Need - The section of an environmental document that discusses the needs problems and defines the goals (purposes) of the proposed project.

Relocation - The purchase of private property (land and/or structures) for a public purpose, such as a transportation facility. The purchase price includes the costs of relocating residents or businesses - hence the name "relocation."

Scoping - The initial step of an environmental study. It includes the determination of a range of possible alternatives, and analysis of Purpose and Need for the project.

Screening - The second step of an environmental study. It applies Purpose and Need criteria to all alternatives to arrive at a set of alternatives for detailed study.

Travel Demand Model - A computerized representation of the population, employment, socioeconomic characteristics, and transportation network of a region. Travel on the transportation network is forecasted as a function of population, employment, and socioeconomic characteristics. If proposed projects (such as an alternative of I-69) can be added to the transportation network, the model can forecast the effects of that proposed project.

Volume-to-Capacity (V/C) Ratio - The ratio of volume of traffic on a roadway to the capacity of that roadway. As the volume approaches the capacity, the roadway becomes congested.

Wetland - A type of land use protected by various state and federal laws. Wetlands are characterized by plants adapted to a wet environment, soils which are characterized by anaerobic conditions, and which is inundated or saturated to the surface for at least 5% of the growing season in most years.