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Finding of no significant impact on the environmental assessment Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480 in Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2004) online

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Finding of No Significant Impact on the
Environmental Assessment for

STPS 430-1(5)1

Canyon Ferry Road

Control Number 4480

5 ii

Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430- 1 (5) 1 Finding of No Significant


Page No.



Public Notice and EA Availability FC-1

EA Omissions, Corrections and Final Changes FC-2

Public Meetings on the EA FC-5

July 8, 2003 Open House FC-5

July 8, 2003 Public Hearing FC-6

Transcript of Public Hearing FC-6

Summary of Comments at the Public Hearing FC-6

Written Comments Received on the EA and MDT's Responses FC-1 9

ATTACHMENTS 1 through 5 after FC-28








STPS 430-1(5) 1;CN 4480


The Federal Highway Administration has determined that this
project will not have asignificant impact on the human environment.
This Finding of No Significant Impact is based on the attached
Summary of Final Coordination, "Nationwide" Section 4(f)
Evaluation, and input from past public meetings held to discuss the
project. This finding has been independently evaluated by the
Federal Highway Administration and determinedto adequately and
accurately discuss the need, environmental issues and impacts of
the proposed "Canyon Ferry Road" project and appropriate
mitigation measures. It provides sufficient evidence and analysis
for determining that an environmental impact statement is not
required. The Federal Highway Administration takes full
responsibility for the accuracy, scope and content of the summary
of final coordination amd its attachments.



Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment

Summary of Final Coordination


Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment
and "Nationwide" Section 4(f) Evaluation

This document summarizes the final coordination activities undertaken by the Montana
Department of Transportation (MDT) to complete the Canyon Ferry Road Environmental
Assessment (EA) and "Nationwide" Section 4(f) Evaluation. The EA, which can be found in its
entirety in APPENDIX 1, describes the potential environmental effects of reconstructing about
13.6 kilometers (8.4 miles) of Montana Secondary Route 430 (also known as Canyon Ferry Road
or S-430) in Lewis and Clark County, Montana. The project also involves limited work on
Montana Secondary Route 284 (known as Spokane Creek Road or S-284) south of the
intersection of these routes. The proposed work is being administered under a project designated
by MDT as "Canyon Ferry Road" [Project Number STPS 430-1(5) 1, Control Number 4480].
MDT would implement the proposed highway improvements under one or more construction
projects depending on the availability of funding. APPENDIX 2 summarizes measures MDT
will implement to mitigate the anticipated impacts of this proposed project.

This document affords MDT the opportunity to:

• summarize efforts undertaken to make the EA available to the public and interested

• respond to written comments during the public availability period for the EA and at the
public hearing held in July 2003;

• enhance the EA by more clearly describing the proposal and providing current

• modify the text of the EA distributed during June 2003; and

• present the FHWA's Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this project.

Public Notice and EA Availability

The FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (FHWA) approved the EA and "Nationwide"
Section 4(f) Evaluation for the Canyon Ferry Road project for public availability on June 9,
2003. The document was then distributed to local, state, and federal agencies and others who had
previously expressed interest in receiving the document. Copies of the EA were mailed or hand-
delivered to all agencies and persons shown on the EA Circulation List by June 19, 2003. The
EA Circulation List is shown in Part V of the EA.

A notice announcing the availability of the Canyon Ferry Road EA and "Nationwide" Section


Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

4(f) Evaluation and the scheduled Public Hearing was published twice in the Helena Independent
Record on June 22, 2003 and June 29, 2003. A copy of the notice of the EA's availability and
Public Hearing as published in the local newspaper is provided as Attachment 1.

Additionally, a project newsletter and letter announcing the availability of the Canyon Ferry
Road EA and the scheduled Public Hearing were mailed to nearly 200 persons including owners
of properties along the project corridor, those who attended previous project meetings or
previously submitted comments, and other interested individuals and groups. The letter
indicated: where copies of EA could be viewed; how copies of the EA could be obtained; the
time, date, and location of the public hearing; and where written comments on the EA should be
sent. A copy of the mailing is provided as Attachment 2.

MDT's newspaper notices and letters to interested parties advised that comments on the EA were
due by July 25, 2003. The notices and letters indicated that copies of the Canyon Ferry Road EA
were available for public review beginning June 23, 2003 at the following locations:

Lewis and Clark County Library -120 Last Chance Gulch (Helena)

City and County Transportation Office -City and County Building, Room 404,

316 N Park (Helena)

East Helena City Hall - City Clerk's Office, 7 East Main St, (East Helena)

Montana State Library - 1515 East Sixth Avenue (Helena)

MPT Great Falls District Office - 200 Smelter Avenue NE, (Great Falls)

MPT Environmental Services (Helena) - 2701 Prospect Avenue, Room 111

Robert Peccia & Associates, Inc. (Helena) - 825 West Custer Avenue

The multiple copies of the EA provided to the Montana State Library allowed for the
distribution of the document to other libraries including the Montana Historical Society and
libraries affiliated with state universities.

The EA was also made available for viewing or downloading from Robert Peccia & Associates'
Internet website at ("News and Info" link) throughout the entire public
availability period.

As a result of the notice and distribution of the EA, MPT received and responded to requests for
copies of the document from the following individuals:

Ann Wright, Helena, MT (at the public hearing)

Terry Zimmerman, Helena, MT (in July 24, 2003 comment letter)

EA Omissions, Corrections, and Final Changes

A Finding of No Significant Impact, a Summary of Final Coordination, and a copy of the EA
Notice of Availability have been added to this document. These items (including the following
text changes) plus the initial EA made available to the public on June 23, 2003 constitute the
Final EA and Nationwide Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation.
The following changes should be made to the EA previously distributed in June 2003 based on

Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

comments received by MDT and the availability of new project information. Page numbers listed
refer to the EA document distributed in June 2003. Deleted text is shown in strikeout font and
new text additions are shown in bold text.

Page 29

The last sentence of the second paragraph under 2. Design Speed/Posted Speed Limits in Part
III of the EA was revised to read:

. . .in the rural section. Lewis and Clark County could ask MDT would likely to conduct
an engineering investigation of travel speeds after reconstruction project is completed to
determine if posted speed limits for Canyon Ferry Road should be revised based on the
speeds at which motorists drive on the new newly constructed facility. Substantial
changes in the roadway's geometries and design, continuing development within the
project corridor, and the future construction of an 1-15 interchange at Custer
Avenue are factors that may affect travel characteristics on Canyon Ferry Road.

Page 29 - 30

A new paragraph under 2. Design Speed/Posted Speed Limits in Part III of the EA. The new
paragraph, added at the request of Brian Holling (City-County Transportation Coordinator),
discusses a speed study recently completed by MDT on Canyon Ferry Road. The new paragraph
reads as follows:

During January 2004, MDT completed a speed study addressing current travel
speeds through the entire Canyon Ferry Road project area. The results of the study,
completed at the request of Lewis and Clark County, will soon be presented to the
Montana Transportation Commission. The County has reviewed recommendations
for changes to posted speeds on the route made as a result of the speed study and the
Transportation Commission will ultimately decide the need for revisions to posted
speed limits at an upcoming meeting.

Page 71

The single sentence second paragraph under Impacts of the Preferred Action was revised to
reflect a decrease in the amount of wetland impact anticipated for the project. The text now reads:

Based on preliminary design plans for this project, the amount of wetlands that would be
directly impacted by the proposed reconstruction of Canyon Ferry Road would be about
0.60 ha (1.5 acres) 0.26 ha (0.647 acres).

Page 72

The third full paragraph on the page was revised to say:

Based on these considerations, MDT's consulting biologists concluded that wetlands
within the project corridor associated with the Helena Valley Canal or its associated

Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

laterals are not jurisdictional for Section 404 purposes because water supplies are annually
discontinued and there are no naturally flowing streams that contribute directly to flows in
the canal. However, wetlands associated with No Name Spring Creek and Spokane Creek
are "jurisdictional" wetlands.

Page 73

The text associated with the bullet item titled "Compensation" was revised to read as follows:

• Compensation. Compensatory mitigation for the projected wetland loss will be required
and developed in compliance with the 1996 MDT Interagency Wetland Group operating
procedures. MDT will implement all prudent and feasible measures to avoid,
minimize, and mitigate wetland losses associated with the project in accordance
with the Corps of Engineers permitting requirements.

Although no specific wetland mitigation sites have been identified yet at this early stage
of the project, wetland creation/restoration opportunities may exist on private lands near
within or adjacent to the existing and proposed highway rights-of-way near No
Name Spring Creek and Spokane Creek (Sites 5 and 6). MDT may also have sufficient
wetland "credits" from past mitigation efforts in the watershed that could be applied to
this project. MDT will pursue development of available on-site mitigation to
compensate for unavoidable wetland losses. If on-site mitigation opportunities are
unavailable, MDT will pursue compensatory mitigation for wetland losses at a
future MDT wetland reserve site with agreement from the Corps of Engineers.

Page 76

The last bullet item on the page was revised to say:

■ Overhead power lines relocated during construction will be raptor-proofed according
to MDT policies in accordance with "Suggested Practices for Raptor Protection on
Power Lines" (Olendorff et al. 1981) .

Page 100

A new paragraph was added at the end of 11. Pedestrian and Bicyclist Facilities, Existing

Conditions addressing future updates to several transportation planning documents. The new
paragraph reads as follows:

The City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County will soon be updating the Helena
Area Transportation Plan in cooperation with MDT. The new Transportation Plan
Update will include a document that is presently under final review titled "Helena
Non-Motorized Transportation Plan." The Non-Motorized Transportation will
include standards for construction of bicycle paths in the Helena area. Although this
plan is not currently adopted, it should be available if the Canyon Ferry Road
project proceeds to final design. Lewis and Clark County has encouraged MDT to
consider pertinent recommendations during the final design of this project.

Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

Page 102

The text under the bullet titled "1-15 Corridor EIS" was modified to reflect the current status of
the project and new information about the preferred action.

■ 1-15 Corridor EIS. MDT is currently preparing recently prepared an Environmental

Impact Statement (EIS) to identify and evaluate potential transportation improvements to
the 1-15 corridor between the Lincoln Road and Montana City interchanges. The purpose
of the EIS is was to identify the best alternative that will safely and efficiently
accommodate anticipated motorized and non-motorized traffic volumes while
simultaneously improving east- west travel crossing the 1-15 corridor.

The Final EIS, issued in November 2003, presented a complete description of the
alternatives considered and identified Alternative 1 as the Preferred Alternative.
Alternative 1 included a new interchange The EIS will identify potential future
interchange locations, one of which may be located at Custer Avenue (the extension of
Canyon Ferry Road within the City of Helena). 1-15 is located about 4 km (2.5 miles)
west of the beginning of the Canyon Ferry Road project.

The FHWA signed a Record of Decision on January 22, 2004 approving Alternative
1 as the selected alternative for improvements to the 1-15 corridor. If The provision

of an interchange were provided at Custer Avenue would will directly connect Canyon
Ferry Road would have a direct connection to 1-15 for the first time. Traffic volumes and
travel patterns on Canyon Ferry Road east of Helena and on connecting roads could
notably change with the provision of a new interchange. The scheduled completion date
for the EIS is June 2003. A final The Record of Decision (ROD) for the project will be
completed in September 2003. The timing of future improvements to the 1-15 corridor,
including the possible development of a new interchange at Custer Avenue, is unknown
uncertain at this time.

Public Meetings on the EA


An informal open house meeting to discuss the proposed highway project was held from 4:00
to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2003 at the East Valley Middle School gymnasium in East
Helena. About 15 people attended the afternoon open house.

Attachment 3 includes copies of the sign-in sheets from the Open House and Public Hearing.

Notes compiled from individual discussions at the open house were reviewed and used to
identify substantive comments on the proposed project. These comments and related questions
are summarized below and appropriate responses provided where necessary.


Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination


A Public Hearing to explain the scope of the highway reconstruction project, discuss the findings
of the EA, and to take public comments was held on Tuesday, July 8, 2003 in the East Valley
Middle School gymnasium (401 Kalispell Avenue) in East Helena. The Public Hearing began at
about 7:00 p.m. and concluded by 9:00 p.m. MDT recorded all presentations and comments
heard at the meeting.

Approximately 35 persons attended the Public Hearing not including the MDT staff (Michael
Johnson-Great Falls District Administrator, Jason Giard-Great Falls District Engineering
Services Supervisor, Bob Tholt - Consultant Design Section Project Manager, and John
Robinson-Public Affairs), and representatives of consulting engineering firms working on the
project (Tom Cavanaugh and Dan Norderud - Robert Peccia & Associates). A copy of the sign-
in sheets from the Public Hearing is provided as Attachment 3.

The Public Hearing began with introductions by John Robinson (meeting moderator) and a brief
discussion of the meetings purpose and procedures for offering comments on the EA. Mr.
Robinson then turned the meeting over to Tom Cavanaugh of Robert Peccia & Associates for a
presentation summarizing the scope of the proposed project, the reasons why reconstruction is
being proposed, estimated project costs, and the project's likely implementation schedule. Mr.
Cavanaugh then turned the meeting over to Dan Norderud who summarized the EA process,
content, and major findings and conclusions. Following Mr. Norderud's remarks, the meeting
was opened up for comments and questions on the EA and general comments.

Following the formal comment period, the meeting reverted to an open house format and
allowed for one-on-one discussions with interested parties.


MDT recorded the presentation summarizing the EA, public comments, questions and general
discussions that occurred during the July 8, 2003 Public Hearing. A transcript of the public
hearing was produced based on the recorded proceedings. Attachment 4 of this Summary of
Final Coordination includes a copy of the transcript.


Notes compiled at the Public Hearing and MDT's transcript of the meeting were reviewed and
used to identify the comments most frequently mentioned at the Public Hearing. These
comments and related questions are summarized below and appropriate responses provided
where necessary.

COMMENT: (Charles Houk) I'm the Minister of Cross Roads Christian Church and
I'm at the beginning of the project on Walter Drive. I'm putting in a 50-car parking
lot on Walter Drive. My concern is left-turn ingress and egress into Walter Drive and
the apron that would go with it.


Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

RESPONSE: MDT's design consultant completed a traffic study for the project corridor that
identified intersections with left turn needs. The intersection of Walter Drive was one of the
intersections within the project area considered in the traffic study. The study showed that a left
turn lane was not justified at Walter Drive based on the minimum turning vehicle volume
guidelines presented in the MDT Road Design Manual. A review of the accident history does not
indicate that Walter Drive is a notable accident cluster area.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual was also reviewed to estimate
typical numbers of turning vehicles that may be expected due to improvements at the church.
This information suggests the church's additional traffic generation would likely be minimal, and
would not significantly contribute to the left turning vehicles off Canyon Ferry Road onto Walter
Drive. We would anticipate that most activities taking place at the church would not coincide to
the peak hours of travel on Canyon Ferry Road. Peak traffic volumes on Canyon Ferry Road
typically occur during weekday morning and evening commutes. The church's highest use
periods generally occur in mid morning and late evening hours and on weekends.

The addition of a 50-vehicle parking lot at the church alone would be unlikely to justify the need
for a left turn lane at Walter Drive. Other new developments potentially accessed via Walter
Drive would be monitored during the design of the project to determine if the need for a left turn
lane at this location changes.

COMMENT: (Don Flammond) I live on Canyon Ferry Road and Dusty Maiden. The
project would be good but we've got to really look at is the speed limit down through
there. It is a race track already and if you widen it out then it will be a lot better
racetrack for them guys. You know, that is all residential area and we've already had
one fatality down there and we don 't need any more. Thank you.

RESPONSE: An engineering study can be conducted after reconstruction activities on Canyon
Ferry Road are completed so it is possible to identify typical travel speeds on the new facility
and determine the need for adjustments to posted speed limits. MDT generally accepts requests
from local governments (Lewis and Clark County in this case) to perform studies of non-
statutory speed limits. Enforcement of established speed limits on Canyon Ferry Road is
typically the county's responsibility.

COMMENT: (Bob Leach) I live near the corner of Canyon Ferry and Wylie Drive. I
would like to see a reduction in the speed limit to 45 mph beginning just prior to Wylie
Drive coming from the west going east and on the east side of the project going west
just prior to Lake Helena Drive. Those are intersections we have a lot of trouble with.
People need to start slowing down prior to those lights, whether they are 4-way stops or
a red and green light they need to be reminded. Also, like they said, the area in
between is residential and there is no reason for 55 mph on that. There are just too
many people having to turn.
RESPONSE: Please note the response to a similar comment by Mr. Flammond regarding the
speed limit. The intersection of Wylie Drive and Canyon Ferry Road would initially be
signalized. It is also likely that some time during the next ten years or twenty years, the
intersection at Valley Drive will meet warrants for a traffic signal.


Canyon Ferry Road Environmental Assessment Summary of Final Coordination

Consideration being given to installing advance warning traffic controls, including flashing
lights, signing and transverse milled rumble strips across major side road approaches such as
Valley Drive and Lake Helena Drive intersections. These additional measures would heighten
driver awareness on approaches to stop-controlled intersections. The existing flashing
intersection lights at Valley Drive, and those installed at Lake Helena Drive in 2002 will be
maintained with this project. In addition, lighting has been recommended for the intersections at
Wylie Drive, Valley Drive and Lake Helena Drive to increase nighttime driver awareness.

The other thing is we need a sidewalk on that road between at least Valley Drive and
Wylie Drive either on the north or the south side. I would rather see it on the north
side not for my convenience but because that is where most of the pedestrian traffic
would be. I think it would get much more use on the north side. There is a big housing
development up Dusty Maiden so there is more residential on the north side, but I
would also like to see it on the south side for my convenience. I just think it would be
much safer if we had some kind of a sidewalk on that.

RESPONSE: Traffic studies and observations of pedestrian use of the corridor identified little
existing pedestrian or bicyclist activity within the project area. The demand for sidewalks is
currently low because there are few, if any, destinations in the project area that generate
pedestrian travel and there are no connections to any other sidewalks or paths to East Helena.
Further, the existing highway is "unfriendly" to pedestrians and bicyclists. The existing 7.2 m
(24-foot) wide roadway cannot safely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists since the paved
surface is only wide enough for two travel lanes. The area adjacent to the roadway is not
conducive to pedestrian travel due to the presence of relatively steep roadside slopes and ditches.

Nevertheless, public scoping comments asked that the pedestrian needs and accommodations be
investigated as part of this project. In response to these comments, three options were identified
and considered during the development of this project. These options included:

• constructing a sidewalk directly behind the curb;

• providing a sidewalk separated from the road by a buffer strip (boulevard); and

• building a wide multi-use path along one or both sides of Canyon Ferry Road
between Wylie Drive and Lake Helena Drive consistent with Lewis and Clark
County's multi-modal transportation goals and objectives.

Public comments both supported and opposed the inclusion of these roadside features. The
option of including a sidewalk separated from the highway garnered the most (but not
widespread) public support. Although providing a minimal width sidewalk directly behind the
curb would be least intrusive to adjacent properties, comments viewed the option as unfavorable
because pedestrians would be in close proximity to vehicular traffic. Negative comments were
also received about the option of installing a separated multi-use path due to its need for
substantially more right-of-way than the other options. However, some bicyclists who

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Online LibraryRobert Peccia & AssociatesFinding of no significant impact on the environmental assessment Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480 in Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2004) → online text (page 1 of 7)