Environmental Studies

Wetland, surface water and stream field investigations and delineations have been or will be completed within each project area. During the field investigations, scientists examine soils, vegetation, and hydrology. They document wetlands, watercourses, and non-wetland characteristics on forms and mapping. Wetland and stream boundaries are delineated in the field. The mapping will help engineers avoid and minimize impacts to these features during the Preliminary Engineering and Final Design of each of the three projects.

The Project Team also conducts interviews with potential farm operators in each project area. Information regarding farm operations and use of the roadway network is discussed and documented for our project team to consider during design of the projects.

Stream

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) has been or will be prepared for each project. A Phase I ESA is an investigation of potentially contaminated properties surrounding the project area to help the Project Team understand what hazardous material might be in the project area and better determine how impacts may be minimized or managed.

Cultural Resources, Noise, and Air Quality are also addressed for each project.

Environmental clearance was granted for the SR 981, Section Q20 project in November 2019. Environmental clearance for Sections V20 and Y10 will be pursued as part of preliminary design.

PennDOT PATH

The Pennsylvania Transportation and Heritage (PATH) system is an online database and communication tool to facilitate consultation between PennDOT and the public on cultural resources that may be affected by its projects. PennDOT is required by federal and state law and regulation, including Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, to consider the effects a project may have on historic properties and to consult with individuals and groups concerned about these potential effects.

This system provides online and instant access to all documents produced, and findings made, for all active projects, and many completed projects. The public can use this database to find projects in your area, the status of consultation, and cultural resource documentation produced on those projects to date. Anyone can sign up to hear about specific projects in their area, or specific types of projects, and can provide input to assist PennDOT in evaluating ways to avoid or minimize effects to historic properties; where adverse effects cannot be avoided the public can provide input to assist us in evaluating ways to mitigate for those effects.

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The Project Team conducted the following tasks during summer and fall 2020:

  • Scoping and verification of Project Needs
  • Environmental research and field work
  • Mapping of environmental features
  • Farmer interviews

Once the Project Team refines the alignment, they will prepare and submit the Categorical Exclusion Evaluation environmental document for approval by PennDOT and FHWA.

Key Features in Section Y10 include:

  • Wetlands and streams
    Field delineated
  • Historic structures
    Background research and field analysis conducted
  • Hazardous waste
    Research underway to identify any potential hazardous waste concerns
  • Archaeology
    Field work to be conducted
  • Agricultural land
    Preferential treatment information collected; farmer interviews underway

The environmental resources surrounding the Section V20 project area are an important part of overall project development. Once the Project Team refines the alignment, they will prepare and submit the environmental document for approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Categorical Exclusion (CE) Evaluation Effort

PennDOT is required to follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for any federally funded project. NEPA compliance requires environmental resources to be evaluated using one of three types of environmental documentation. The level of documentation is determined based on the complexity of the project. Section V20 of the LVTIP requires the completion of a Categorical Exclusion (CE) environmental document during Preliminary Design. A CE is used by PennDOT when, due to the project type, complexity or area of impact, potential impacts are not expected to be significant in a project area. The studies and fieldwork required for the CE are currently underway.