Submitted by R. Neal on Sat, 11/06/2010 - 11:48

The Maryville Daily Times incorrectly reports that "A public hearing on the environmental impact statement was held June 29, 2004."

To my knowledge, there has been no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project. The meeting in 2004 was for public comment on the draft Environmental Assessment (EA).

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has a very specific process for assessing the environmental impact of a project, which, if I'm not mistaken, applies to this project.

First, there can be a Categorical Exclusion (CE) for smaller projects with no environmental impact, which does not apply to this project.

Next is the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine if a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed. After allowing for public review and comment, a determination is made as to whether an EIS is needed.

If it is determined that no EIS is required, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is issued. Federal, state, and local governments are notified, and the project proceeds to the next phase. There does not appear to be any requirement for public notice.

If a determination is made that an EIS is required, it is prepared and a draft is made available for public review and comment.

After that, a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued for the final EIS. The ROD will specify which build (or no-build) option is approved, along with any adjustments required for the project to proceed.

The last public meeting that we are aware of was the 2004 meeting for public review and comment on the draft EA. We are unable to locate a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this project.

It's difficult to imagine there would be a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this project, but perhaps there is. When the TDOT and city offices open Monday we'll check.

Even if there is a FONSI, recall that a FONSI was issued for the Pellissippi Parkway Extension but courts required TDOT to go back and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which is where that project stands right now.

NOTE: The TDOT announcement for Tuesday's meeting says "TDOT is preparing the final environmental document and this meeting will provide the public another opportunity to comment on the project." The announcement is not clear on which environmental document it is.

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You describe the EA/EIS

You describe the EA/EIS process correctly, however I would not be surprised if this project got a FONSI simply because all the land in question has already been heavily impacted, so there's not much to protect/preserve ecologically. The creeks that will take the runoff from the construction and roadway are already badly compromised, and that can be enough to preclude an EIS.


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The purpose of this site is to provide an online clearinghouse for information about the proposed Alcoa Parkway bypass and to promote public awareness and public participation in the process. We believe that the original proposal to improve the existing Alcoa Highway corridor needs a second look as a viable alternative for correcting safety and capacity problems, and that the public should have more input in selecting the preferred build alternative.

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