The WEP was one of the most illegal highways ever planned

Federal laws: the reason the WEP was not approved

“You must remember one thing. At the Constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reason for supporting our predilections.”
– Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice, US Supreme Court

At the May 29, 2002 Eugene / Springfield / Lane County / LTD public hearing to amend the TransPlan, West Eugene Wetlands Plan, Metro Plan and Rural Comprehensive Plan, FHWA Oregon Division administrator Dave Reilly reminded the officials that federal aid highways cannot be segmented into smaller pieces to avoid disclosure of the full impact of the project, require logical termini when approved, must meet a purpose and need, and must be fiscally constrained.

The City of Eugene summary of his testimony severely downplayed his comments:

“Dave Riley, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Salem, reviewed the NEPA process requirements as they related to highway projects in which it had financial involvement. He emphasized the importance of the West Eugene Parkway to the national highway system. Mr. Riley submitted written testimony.”

The FHWA testimony did not merely discuss the NEPA process. The agency specifically warned that logical termini, segmentation, fiscal constraint and independent utility were issues that needed to be addressed before they could sign a Record of Decision.

 

In July, 2002 Eugene, Springfield, Lane County and Lane Transit District amended the West Eugene Wetlands Plan, TransPlan, Metro Plan and Rural Plan to include the West Eugene Parkway, a bypass of the West 11th commercial strip. But approval at the local level does not necessarily mean that it will be built – like all federal aid highways, the ultimate decision will be made by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Some of the hurdles blocking the bulldozers include Oregon’s land use laws (which prohibit new urban freeways outside urban growth boundaries), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, FHWA regulations regarding highway approval, the Clean Water Act, and Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act (which prohibits federally funded roads through parks and wildlife refuges).

 


sympathetic but misleading cartoon
the much touted Oregon State land use laws were useless for stopping the WEP
Federal laws signed by Nixon and Johnson were responsible for its demise

 

Laws that ODOT must comply with - from Oregon Highway Plan

General Process Regulations

National Environmental Policy Act 1969 as amended (NEPA)
FHWA Environmental Impact and Related Procedures, 23 CFR 771
Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966

Occupational Safety and Health Act

Biology, Water Resources, Wetlands

Federal Endangered Species Act - Oregon Endangered Species Act
Federal Clean Water Act and the Oregon Water Quality Standards
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Corps Regulations and the Oregon Removal/Fill Law
Location and Hydraulic Design of Encroachments on Floodplains

Executive Memorandum on Landscaping Guidelines
Wild and Scenic Rivers Acts (federal and state)

Cultural, Social, Land Use, Aesthetics

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
Oregon Historic and Scenic Highways Act
Oregon Land Use Program and Statewide Planning Goals
Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act
Civil Rights Act (Title VI)
Farmland Protection Policy Act
Executive Order 12898 (Environmental Justice)

Noise, Air Quality, and Hazardous Material

FHWA Noise Standard
Federal Clean Air Act Amendments - State and Federal Conformity Rules
Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Categorical Exclusions - could be used for the smaller version of the WETLANDS alternative

23 CFR 771 Sec. 771.117 Categorical exclusions.

(a) Categorical exclusions (CEs) are actions which meet the definition contained in 40 CFR 1508.4, and, based on past experience with similar actions, do not involve significant environmental impacts. They are actions which: do not induce significant impacts to planned growth or land use for the area, do not require the relocation of significant numbers of people; do not have a significant impact on any natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resource; do not involve significant air, noise, or water quality impacts; do not have significant impacts on travel patterns; and do not otherwise, either individually or cumulatively, have any significant environmental impacts.

(b) Any action which normally would be classified as a CE but could involve unusual circumstances will require the Administration, in cooperation with the applicant, to conduct appropriate environmental studies to determine if the CE classification is proper. Such unusual circumstances include:
(1) Significant environmental impacts;
(2) Substantial controversy on environmental grounds;
(3) Significant impact on properties protected by Section 4(f) of the DOT Act or section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; or
(4) Inconsistencies with any Federal, State, or local law, requirement or administrative determination relating to the environmental aspects of the action.

(d) Additional actions which meet the criteria for a CE in the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1508.4) and paragraph (a) of this section may be designated as CEs only after Administration approval. The applicant shall submit documentation which demonstrates that the specific conditions or criteria for these CEs are satisfied and that significant environmental effects will not result. Examples of such actions include but are not limited to:
(1) Modernization of a highway by resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, adding shoulders, or adding auxiliary lanes (e.g., parking, weaving, turning, climbing).
(2) Highway safety or traffic operations improvement projects including the installation of ramp metering control devices and lighting.
(3) Bridge rehabilitation, reconstruction or replacement or the construction of grade separation to replace existing at-grade railroad crossings.
(6) Approvals for disposal of excess right-of-way or for joint or limited use of right-of-way, where the proposed use does not have significant adverse impacts.