Ellis Road PD&E Study
What is the purpose of the project?
The purpose of the project is to provide a direct, multi-lane Strategic Intermodal System connection from I-95 to Melbourne International Airport (MLB). The new facility with controlled access and interstate connectivity will provide improved mobility of people and goods to and from the airport. The project will also assist in reducing the near term and future traffic demands on New Haven Avenue (US 192) and Eau Gallie Boulevard (SR 518). As part of the NEPA requirements, the No-Build alternative will be examined as part of this study.
What is the NEPA process?
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) directs federal agencies, when planning projects or issuing permits, to conduct environmental reviews to consider the potential impacts their proposed actions may have on the environment.
For transportation projects, NEPA requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other transportation agencies to consider potential impacts to the social and natural environment. In addition to evaluating the potential environmental effects, FHWA must take into account the transportation needs of the public in reaching a decision that is in the best overall public interest. (23 USC 109(h))
The NEPA statute and implementing regulations initiate a process to evaluate potential impacts of a project and contain requirements for documentation of decisions. The key elements of the process include the following:
- Determining the project’s purpose and need;
- Determining the range of alternatives to be considered;
- Assessing potential environmental impacts;
- Coordination with relevant agencies;
- Public involvement;
- Determining mitigation for unavoidable impacts;
- Documentation of the analysis and decisions through an environmental impact statement, an environmental assessment, or a categorical exclusion supported by the administrative record.
What is the objective of the PD&E study?
The objective of this PD&E study is to obtain FDOT and FHWA approval for a four lane upgrade of Ellis Road, an extension of Ellis Road to the proposed St. Johns Heritage Parkway, and an interchange at I-95. Obtaining these approvals will allow additional federal dollars to be applied to the next phases of the project, including final design and permitting, right-of-way acquisition, and construction.
What are the study limits?
The study begins just west of I-95 at the proposed St. Johns Heritage Parkway and continues eastward to the tie-in to relocated NASA Boulevard at Wickham Road, a distance of approximately three miles.
How can I get involved?
Your involvement is vital to the overall success of the study, and there are several ways to comment. At the official Alternatives Public Meeting and Public Hearing, you may examine the exhibits, listen to the presentation, and provide your comments via a comment sheet or speak to a court reporter. You may also e-mail any comments, questions, or concerns during the course of this study to the project managers in the Contact Us tab.
Will my comments really be used in the study?
Each public comment created is evaluated by the Department’s consultant (RS&H) and Department staff. An individual response is also provided to the person commenting. All public comments are taken into account when developing the roadway alternatives and become part of the official project record.
How can I obtain the latest project documents?
The latest materials will be available on the Project Documents section of the website. These items will include electronic versions of newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, exhibit boards, and environmental and engineering reports.
When will the study be completed?
Endangered Species Surveys are currently being conducted within the study area. Contingent upon their results, Location Design Concept Acceptance from the Federal Highway Administration is anticipated by January 2016.
Who will make the final decision?
FDOT will decide on the location and type of design improvements after considering all public input and the results of this study. Ultimately, the FHWA will decide if this project meets federal guidelines and can be approved.
When will I know if right-of-way is needed from my property?
This PD&E Study will examine the proposed alternatives in a preliminary nature. At the end of the study, the project team will know which properties will be impacted and the extent of the impacts. In the next project phase (final design), a detailed ground survey will be obtained, and the preferred alternative from this study designed in significantly greater detail. In the final design phase, right-of-way plats for impacted parcels will be created, property requiring acquisition will be appraised, and each affected property owner will be contacted. Right-of-way representatives from the Department will be present at the two official public meetings to answer any questions.