Definitions



ADOT&PF is the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. See also DOT&PF.

Agency Consultation Committee (ACC) was a group formed during the project scoping process to foster communication and coordination between agencies, Alaska Native groups, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Cooperating Agencies are Federal and State agencies invited to participate in the NEPA process by the lead Federal agency. Cooperating agencies typically are those that would have to issue a permit or other approval for the project or have other legal jurisdiction.

DOT&PF is the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which is responsible for roads, airports, ferries, and certain other public facilities. DOT&PF also administers Federal transportation funds granted to the State and takes responsibility for direct preparation of NEPA documents, such as an environmental impact statement (EIS).

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): An EIS is prepared by a lead Federal agency when there may be significant environmental impacts. An EIS describes the purpose of and need for the project, the alternatives (including “no action”), existing conditions in the area, and environmental consequences.

FHWA is the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal agency that oversees Federally funded highway projects built by state departments of transportation. FHWA is the agency that makes the final decision on a highway EIS because it is the Federal agency charged with implementing Federal law related to highways and highway funding.

Impacts: There are three types of impacts considered in the NEPA process. These can be positive or negative impacts, and can be of varying intensity.

  • Direct impacts are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place.
  • Indirect or secondary impacts occur farther away or at a later time, but are a foreseeable result of the project.
  • Cumulative impacts are those caused by the proposed project when its effects are added to the effects of past actions, other current actions, and reasonably foreseeable future actions.

Listening Posts were public meetings that provided information directly to communities in the early part of this project. This style of meeting is very similar to an open house, where displays of information are posted and Project Team members are available to hear community members’ concerns and answer their questions.

Level of Service (LOS) refers to traffic congestion (or lack of congestion) on a particular stretch of road. Levels are ranked A through F, with A indicating free-flowing traffic and F being the lowest level—slow-moving/“traffic jam”/minimal opportunity to pass. The Sterling Highway in most of the MP 45-60 area currently operates at LOS E during the summer. The ideal is to increase the LOS to C or better whenever possible.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a Federal law that requires Federal agencies to disclose and consider potential environmental impacts before approving major projects that are subject to Federal funding or approval. If significant impacts are anticipated, the agency must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

NEPA Process is a series of steps laid out in Federal law that requires Federal agencies to conduct scoping to gather public and agency thoughts about a project, assess and disclose impacts to the public, hold public hearings, and issue a draft and final impact assessment before issuing any final Record of Decision.

Project Team: For the Sterling Highway project, the team consists of DOT&PF staff and their consultants, and FHWA staff.

Rural principal arterial:  Transportation departments nationwide define highways, roads and streets by the character of service they provide. A rural principal arterial is a type of route that connects geographically distant communities (such as Anchorage and Homer) through a principally rural area. An urban principal arterial, by comparison, serves major centers of activity within a metropolitan area. 

Scoping is a process of encouraging feedback from the public and agencies about a proposal that requires compliance with NEPA. The process helps to define the scope of a NEPA document—its issues, interest groups and affected agencies, information needs, alternatives, and impacts that should be considered.. In scoping, team members listen to ideas and concerns of people and agencies potentially affected by project alternatives.

Section 4(f):  Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 protects certain properties from use for transportation projects. FHWA may not approve a project requiring the use of publicly owned land of a public park, recreation area, or wildlife/waterfowl refuge, or land of an historic site of national, state, or local significance (for example, historic sites, archaeological sites, or traditional cultural properties) unless (1) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to such use, and (2) the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm; or unless the impact is determined to be “de minimis.” A Section 4(f) evaluation considers these issues. The evaluation often is a chapter of an EIS.

Stakeholder Sounding Board (SSB) was an open advisory committee of community members and local/regional interest group representatives that met early in the NEPA process for this project. The group provided a forum to discuss issues and the development of project alternatives.

Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS): If time has passed and new information or new circumstances have developed since the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a supplemental EIS is necessary. An SEIS uses the same process and format as an EIS (draft, final, and Record of Decision).