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Environmental assessment and nationwide section 4(f) evaluation Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480, Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2003) online

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existing accesses being lelocated, combined or even closed. However, tiie access management
provisions implemented with tins project would ensure that reasonable access is maintained for
all properties and land uses adjoining the highway.

The Canyon Ferry Road project would not affect any state land; however, the project would
affect an easement for the Helena Valley Canal held by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The pioposed reconstiuction of Canyon Ferry Road would not conflict witii the goals and
policies contained m Lewis and Clark County's Comprehensive Plan.

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS. Subdivision of rural lands in Lewis and Clark County, like many
areas of western Montana, is on the mcrease and expected to continue. Much of the project area
has akeady experienced steady residential and conunercial growth and development or several
years even though the existing liighway has not seen major improvements.

The proposed Canyon Ferry Road project may mduectiy contribute to further growth and
development in tiie Helena Valley by providing a route tiiat would make commuting to and fiom
Helena easier. Wliile this is a possibility, there are too many otiier factors that promote grovrth
to make accmate predictions about wheie and when such growtii may occur. The factors include
items such as the geneial economy, land prices, tax levels and tiie existence of seii/ices and
infrastructure. Current land use planning policies of the County encourage new development to
locate in areas Irke the project corridor where county servrces and infiastinctiire exist to better
acconunodate growth.

Any potential impacts would be tempered somewhat by the fact that Canyon Ferry Road would
be improved on or near rts existing alignment and witii relatively limrted modifications.
Reconstructing tiie road would not substantially change the character of the much of the project

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

area or cause cmxent property owners and developers to build faster or any differently than tliey
would liave without tlie proposed liighway improvements. The proposed action would not
provide new access to lands project area and would enhance traffic operations and add capacity
primarily within the commercial/residential section of the project corridor.

The Preferred Alternative and other known or reasonably foreseeable projects may indiiectly
contribute to mcremental conversion of farmland in tlie Helena Valley to other uses.

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. This would cause no changes to existing
land uses in the project area.

Mitigation Measures (Land Use Impacts)

No mitigating measmes are proposed for land use impacts associated with this proposed project.
Measures to mitigate tlie impacts of new right-of-way acquisition are discussed in the following
section.



2. RIGHT-OF-WAY AND UTILITY IMPACTS



Existing Conditions. Lewis and Clark County originally constructed Canyon Ferry Road and
no right-of-way plans or "as-built" information appears to exist. Reseaich indicates the existing
right-of-way for Canyon Ferry Road has never been recorded by deed over the project's lengtli.
Therefore, tlie assumption was made the existmg road was developed witliin an 18.3 iii(60 foot)
wide right-of-way easement over the length of the project as provided for by Montana stahite (7-
14-2112, M.C.A.). Many certificates of survey liave recorded thrs easement, however, field
reviews indicate that existing fence fines vaiy fiom this presumed widtli.

The existing right-of-way on Spokane Creek Road in the vicinity of rts mtersection wrth Canyon
Feny Road rstypicaUy a minimum of 36.6 m(120 feet) and is held in fee by tlie MDT.

Overhead power lines, underground telephone cables, gas, buried fiber optic and other utifity
lines exist adjacent to the roadway tliroughout most of the Canyon Ferry Road corrrdor. A high-
voltage overhead electrical transmissron line crosses the existmg corridor between Wylie and
Valley Drives.

Residential and commercial properties throughout the corridor utilize wells as a source of
domestic water and mdividual sewage disposal systems witli septic dram fields to manage
wastewater.

IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. Canyon Ferry Road would be reconstiucted
following rts existing centeiiine fiom the project's begmnmg to east of Lake Helena Drive. New
right-of-way acquisrtion would affect lands on both sides of the existmg road m the
coimnercral/residential section of the corridor. East of Lake Helena Drive, tiie road's location
would be offset sfightiy fiom tlie existing ahgnment right-of-way fiom either the north or south
srde of the existing roadway, depending on location, for most of tins segment's lengtii.

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment



Preliminary design plans would require tlie acquisition of an additional right-of-way averagir^
about 10.7 m (35 feet) to each side of the roadway witliin tlie residential/commercial section of
the corridor between the project's beginning and Wylie Drive. The proposed cuib and gutter
section between Wyhe Drive and Lake Helena Drive would likely require an additional 5.0 m
(15 feet) of new right-of-way to each side of tlie road. Right-of-way needs within the rural
section of the project would vary due to the planned minor alignment sliifts. The additional right-
of-way is necessary to accommodate road widenir^, adequate clear zones, and utility relocations
tliroughout the project corridor.

Based on prehminary right-of-way plans, the reconstructed liighway would occupy a total gross
right-of-way area of about 67.0 lia (165.6 acres). This total includes an area of approximately
16.9 ha (41.8 acres) ofpresumedcounty road easement for Canyon Ferry Road and its associated
features and about 40.4 ha (99.8 acres) of additionalland beyond tlie present road corridor.

MDT would also need to secure construction permits at various locations withm the project
corridor. Construction permits are commonly acquired (purchased) &oni landowners if there is a
need to use some adjoining land during coiistniction, but no permanent road feature would be
maintained by MDT after construction. The permit rs similai' to "renting" land &om a property
owner for a stipulated period of tune. Landowners may request construction permits from MDT
for portions of backslope reconstructron, road approach reconstructions that extend more than 15
m (about 50 feet) beyond tlie right-of-way or for reahgnment or recoiistniction of drainage
facilities.

Note tlie right-of-way aieas presented above are subject to change since MDT has only
completed a set of preliminary Right-of- Way plans for the proposed project. During the design
process, MDT would identify specific right-of-way needs from lands along tlie proposed
alignment of Canyon Ferry Road. Well ahead of coiistniction, MDT would contact each affected
landowner regarding tlie acquisition of new land needed for tlie highway and remedies for rrght-
of-way effects to tlie remainder of their property. The permanent new right-of-way for Canyon
Ferry Road would be acquired and owned by MDT.

The Preferred Actron would require tlie relocation of foui' or five resrdences to accommodate
reconstniction of the Canyon Ferry Road and Spokane Creek Road mtersectron. The owners of
tliese residences have already been advised of tins possibility by MDT's desrgn consultant.

The acquisition of land or improvements for highway constructron is governed by state and
federal laws and regulations designed to protect both the landowners and taxpaying public.
Landowners affected are entitled to recerve fair market value for any land or buildings acqimed
and any damages as defined by law to remaining land due to tiie effects of liighway
construction. Tliis actron will be in accordance wrth the Uniform Relocation Assistance and
Real Property Acquisition Pol ices Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-646 as amended), (42 U.S.C. 4601, et.
seq.) and the UniformRelocation Act Amendments of 1987 (F.L. 100-17).

Prescrrptive, temporary, or permanent easements for existing highway right-of-way deemed
unnecessary by MDT as aresult of tiie proposed project would revert to underlying landowners.
Any excess rights-of-way held m fee by MDT that were acquired with federal liighway funds,

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

would be offered to a federal agency or made available for sale at fan market value.

Overhead power lines and burred utilities would be m conflict with the proposed highway
reconstruction at various locations. MDT's design consultant conducted a Subsurface Utihty
Engineering (SUE) Phase I investigation to determine accmate locations for buried natural gas
lines, television and coimnunication hues, and public water lines. The SUE investigation
identified numerous instances within the project area where the proposed liighway reconsfiiiction
would conflict with existing underground utihties. The owners of conflicting utilities would be
required to relocate tiien facihties prior to the proposed road construction. A Phase II subsurface
locate would be performed as necessary dming the development of the design for the proposed
project.

Comments heard fiom property owners duiing pubhc involvement activities indicate that the
proposed liighway reconstruction could result in impacts to existing septic tanks and diainfield
systems. Since records documenting the locations of tiiese facilities on properties fiontmg the
liighway are limited, additional work and landowner coordination must be done to identify the
locations of such featiires and to assess potential options for mitigating impacts.

Additionally, relocation of a short section of the Helena Valley Canal is necessary along the
south side of the highway near RP 2.3 just east of Wyhe Drive to accommodate the proposed
roadway features and to ensure the canal does not present a hazard to highway users. A new
easement for the relocated section of the canal must be acquired fiom the adjoining landowner at
tills location. The Bureau of Reclamation has indicated that reconstruction of the Helena
Valley Canal should occur between October 1 and April 1 to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of
water to canal users.

The Bureau of Reclamation has also stated that clear' span bridges must replace existing
bridges over the Helena Valley Canal. Bridge construction activities tliat would not disrupt or
otherwise affect tiie flow of irrigation water could be accomphshed outside October 1 to April 1
timeflame specified by the agency. Letters documenting the coordination to date witii the
Bureau of Reclamation and the Helena Valley Irrigation Distiict regai'ding the proposed
relocation of the canal can be found in APPENDIX B.

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS. Except for the limited loss of land and residences adjacent to the
liighway, no other cumulative impacts are foreseen fiom the proposed action. The utility
relocations that would be required could potentially motivate utility providers to update or
otherwise improve their facilities witlun tiie corridor.

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. The No Action Alternative would not
require any additional right-of-way or affect existmg utilities in the Canyon Feny Road project
area.

Mitigation Measures (Riqht-of-Way and Utility Impacts)

The foUovvdng measures will be implemented to minimize the right-of-way and utihties impacts
associated witii the proposed liighway improvements

■ MDT's Right-of-W ay design for the project will attempt to minimize the area

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1



Environmental Assessment



required for the new highway and potential effects on adjoining landowners.
Temporary construction permits will be used when feasible to minimize the need
for new right-of-way.

MDT will incorporate clear span bridges for new bridge crossings of the Helena
Valley Canal and accomplish construction work for the relocation of the Helena
Valley Canal between October 1 and April 1 to ensure uninterrupted deliver of
water to users.

MDT and its design consultant for this project will continue to coordinate right-
of-way needs with Lewis and Clark County, affected property owners, and other
interests.

MDT will coordinate with the appropriate utility companies to determine the
timing and details of relocating conflicting utilities.

MDT's design consultant will coordinate further with landowners along Canyon
Ferry Road to identify potential conflicts with individual septic and drainfield
systems and to determine suitable remedies for unavoidable impacts to such
systems.



3. TRANSPORTATION/CIRCULATION IMPACTS



Existing Conditions. As described in detail in Pait II, the existing Canyon Ferry Road and
bridges (including tlieir approaches) have physrcal deficiencies that contribute to reduced safety
and convenience for users of tliis route. Tliis highway presently serves as tlie primary roadway
for visitors to Canyon Feny Reservoir and its surrounding recreational lands. The highway also
flinctions as a principal route for fami-to-market needs and travel by area residents, business
peisons, and visitors in tins pari of tlie Helena Valley.

IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. The reconstruction of Canyon Ferry Road
would provide traffic safety benefits and a more efficient facility for local residents, commercial
and agriculture operations and visitors. Road design and construction would address identified
safety issues by: increasing the widtli of the roadway, reconfiguring a dangerous major
intersection; adding traffic signalization and lighting; flattening and stiaightenmg its vertical and
horizontal alignment; adjusting grades and horizontal cuives to improve sight distance;
pioviding a new driving surface; managing access; and incoiporating otiier safety measures.
These measures would help to reduce tire fiequency and severity of accidents on this important
local facility. The liighway would be reconstincted to MDT standards that reflect designs
appropriate for both the type and level of tiaffic using tins tiaffic facility.

No long-term changes to overall tiavel patterns would be hkely due to the reconstruction of the
liighway. Tliis is due to the fact that Canyon Ferry Road is one of few major east-west tiavel
routes through the Helena Valley, tiiereby limiting choices for motorists. Traffic volumes on the
road would not be expected to increase substantially in the short-term as a result of



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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

reconstiTiction. However, traffic is expected to continue increasing in the future with or without
tlie proposed project based on recent population growth tieiids for tire Helena area.

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS. Though the proposed highway reconstruction project would not
duectiy contribute to new or undeshable growth in the Canyon Feny Road project area, it may
indirectly lead to such impacts because providing a route tiiat would make commuting to and
fiom Helena easier may attiact additional residential and commercial development. However,
tiiere are too many other factors that promote growtii to make accurate predictions about how
mucli, where, and when such growth may occur.

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. The No Action Alternative would not
change current operational conditions on Canyon Feny Road. The anticipated tiafflc increases
on the route would decrease tiie operational efficiency of the facility and could create a greater
likelihood for tiaffic confiicts between various liighway users. The accident rate and severity
withm the commercial/residential section of tliis route are already well above the statevvdde
averages. Unless corresponding facihty improvements are made to accommodate expected
giovv^ in tiaffic, tittle progress towards reducir^ the fiequency or severity of accidents can be
accomphshed.

Mitigation Measures (Transportation/Circulation Impacts)

The foUowuig measuies will be incorporated into tire proposed project to minimize impacts to
traffic and circulation:

■ MDT will maintain traffic through the project area during construction by
allowing continued use of the road or providing crossovers and by installing
detours and temporary structures at the sites of the proposed bridge or major
culvert replacements.

■ MDT will maintain access to properties adjacent to Canyon F erry Road and
intersecting roads and approaches throughout the construction period.

■ MDT will attempt to minimize delays to traffic during construction.



4. SOCIAL IMPACTS/ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE



Existing Conditions. The project area is located in an unincorporated portion of Lewis and
Clark County. Lewis and Clark County's population was estimated to be 55,716 accordmg to the

2000 Census (March 21, 2001 data release; http://ceic.commerce.state.int.us/C2000/PL2000/mdes.htm) .

The County's population surged fiom 47,495 people in 1990 — anmcrease of about 15 percent.
Historical population data for the county shows a steady mcrease in residents smce 1930.

Projections of population obtained fiom the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC)
Census and Economic Information Center suggest the County's total population will continue to
grow over the foreseeable future. Accordmg to the 2002 Regional Economic Projections Series,

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

issued in August 2002 by NPA Data Semces, Inc., the population of Lewis and Clark County is
projected to increase to about 63,900 residents by the year 2010, 68,370 by 2015 and reach

77,750 by theyeai'2025. i littp://ceic.commeice.state.mt.us/Demoa/pioiect/NPAallcoiiiities90-25.pdf) .

Detailed population and socio-economic data for residents of Lewrs and Clark County is
periodically collected and distrrbuted by the U. S. Bureau of the Census and the Montana
Census and Economic Information Center of tlie MDOC. Based on data from tliese sources, the
following characteristics are evrdent for resrdents of Lewis and Clark County:

Minorrtres were estimated to comprise about 4.8 percent of the County's

population as of the date of the 2000 Census.

About 1 1 .7 percent of the County's residents were over the age of 65 as of tlie

date oftlie 2000 Census.

The 1998 median household income was estimated to be $38,091.

The estimated per capita personal mcome for County residents was $25,153 iii

2000.

Anestrmated 12.3 percent of all County residents hved below the poverty line m

1998.

The average household size was 2.38 persons at the trme of the 2000 Census.

IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. Thrs Preferred Action would not have any
significant impact on the location, distribution, densrty or growth rate of the area's population.
Altliough several residential relocations would be necessary, the proposed action would not
adversely affect any social or etlinic groups and it would not isolate or drvide exrsting residential
areas. This project would not create disproportionately liigh and adverse human health or
environmental effects on minorrty and low-mcome populations (Executive Order No. 12898).
The proposed project complies with the provisrons of r;;'/g VI of Hie Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C.
2000d, as amended) under the FHWA's regulations (23CFR200).

This alternative would provrde traffic safety benefits and more efficient facility for road users
fiirough the constmction of a wrder roadway, provision of auxiliary lanes for turning, traffic
srgnalization and hghtmg, and the enhancement of sight distance withm the corridor. These
improvements are expected to result in decreases in the number of accrdents wrthin fire project
area. In addrtron, the wider paved shoulders associated with the Preferred Action would improve
safety for pedestrians and bicyclists using the roadway.

The proposed action would mduectiy benefit local school distiicts by improving the route used
to transport students to area schools and mail delivery servrce along Canyon Feny Road.
Similarly, the improvement of tliis route may benefit the providers of emergency servrces by
slightly reducing response times fiom Helena to outiying areas of the east Helena Valley.
CUMULATIVE IIVIPACTS. The planned liighway improvements would not result in any
cumulative effects on the overall population of the project area or to any partrcular social or
ethnic groups. As indicated previously, Lewis and Clark County's populatron lias steadily
increased for many decades. Improving highway facihties m the area would not, by itself,
significantiy mcrease population nor encomage development.



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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. This alternative would not reqime the
acquisition of land and would not displace households, businesses, or other areas used for hmnan
activities. Taking no action would not influence population growtli or distribution in or near tlie
project area. The No Action Alternative would not adversely affect any social or etlinic groups
and it would not isolate or divide existing residential areas. This alternative would not create
dispiopoitionately liigh and adverse human health or envuomnental effects on minority and low-
income populations

Mitiqatinq Measures (Social Impacts/Environmental Justice)

■ MDT will purchase properties needed for right-of-way acquisition and provide

relocation assistance to a^ected property owners.



5. ECONOMIC IMPACTS



Existing Conditions. The economy of Levids and Claik County is diveisified with state and
local government, professional services and retail business, hospital and healtli services, real
estate and finance, constRiction, and manufacturing being the principal industries. In 1 999,
services comprised the largest industry m the County followed by state and local government
and retail trade (Bureau of Economic Analysis, BEA Regional Facts BEARFACTS, 1989-
1999).

Employment in non-farm industries (services, state and local government, retail trade, etc.)
comprise tlie largest mdustrial sector m the Comity's economy. Of the estimated 38,121 full and
part-time jobs in the County in 1999, non-farm industries accounted for about 98% of tlie total
employment (Regional Ecomonic Information System (REIS) for Lewis and Clark County, U.S.
Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1999). The largest employers (witli 700+ employees each) in the
County during 2000 were the State of Montana, the federal government, the Helena School
District, and St. Peteis Hospital (MDOC internet data -http://coimiierce.state.mt.us/ceic/
business/majoiempOO.htm).

Farms and ranches in the county primarily pioduce grain (winter wheat, spring wheat, oats and
bailey), hay, and livestock (cattle, sheep, and hogs). According to tlie 1997 Census of
Agriculture, tlienmiibei of farms in tlie Comity decreased about 20 over the 1987 through 1997
period, while the average size of farms m the comity increased by over 200 acres. The BEA's
BEARFACTS publication mdicates tliat tlie tiansportation and public utilities was one of the
slowest growing industrial sectors in Lewis and Clark Comity over the 1989-1999 period, while
tlie fastest giowing industrial sector in the Comity was constmction.

The City of Helena is the seat of government and tlie economic center of Lewis and Clark
County. The commmnty including the smiomiding valley provides tlie piincipal place of
residence for about 84 percent of the Comity's population and is tlie principal place where many
goods and sei'vices are pmchased. The incorporated Town of East Helena, located about 3.2 km
(2 miles) south of the project corridor, also serves as a comiiimiity and economic center in the
east Helena Valley.

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Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment



IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. The most appaient economic impact of this
alternative is tlie need to acquire new right of way fiom adjacent landowners. About 26.6 ha
(65.78 acres) of additional right-of-way would need to be acqmied to construct the Prefened
Alternative. Right-of-way acquisition would permanently remove ammoi amount of residential,
commercial, and agncultiual land &om production and taxes paid on tlie land to Lewis and Clark
County would be lost. Tliis loss m property tax revenue would be expected to have a negligible
effect on revenues for the County.

Improved safety for road users would decrease the potential for serious motor vehicle accidents.
The associated economic costs associated with treating victims of fatal and injury accidents
would be decreased accordingly.

Access management would maintam reasonable access to all residents and busmesses witliin the
corridor. The implementation of access management within tlie coiiidor is not expected to result


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Online LibraryRobert Peccia & AssociatesEnvironmental assessment and nationwide section 4(f) evaluation Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480, Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2003) → online text (page 10 of 19)