“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”
-- George Orwell
Transportation Bureaucracy Acronyms
4(f) - Section 4(f) of the 1966 Transportation Act
ACOE - Army Corps of Engineers
BLM - Bureau of Land Management
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
CE - Categorical Exclusion
CEQ - Council on Environmental Quality
CFR - Code of Federal Regulations
DEIS - Draft Environmental Impact Statement
EA - Environmental Assessment
EIS - Environmental Impact Statement
FEIS - Final EIS
FHWA - Federal Highway Administration
FONSI - Finding of No Significant Impact
GPS - Global Positioning System
LCOG - Lane Council of Governments
LOS - Level of Service (ranges from A to F)
LUBA - Land Use Board of Appeals
LUTRAQ - Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality
LWCF - Land and Water Conservation Fund
MPC - Metropolitan Policy Committee
NEPA - National Environmental Policy Act
ODOT - Oregon Department of Transportation
P&N - Purpose and Need
RFID - Radio Frequency Identification
ROD - Record of Decision
RTP - Regional Transportation Plan
SDEIS - Supplemental Draft EIS
SFEIS - Supplemental Final EIS
STIP - State Transportation Improvement Plan
UGB - Urban Growth Boundary
USC - United States Code
V/C - Volume to Capacity ratio (congestion measurement)
WEWP - West Eugene Wetlands Plan
Alternative A Mitigated: the WEP version designed by ODOT in mid-2003. It includes the Belt Line interchange that was “futured” from the TransPlan fiscally constrained list in 2002. Another design change would prohibit left turns from the WEP to Seneca Street due to the extreme congestion that it would cause, part of the “mitigation” for the traffic snarls the WEP would create in west Eugene. This option should be renamed “Alternative A Litigated” in honor of the many federal laws it would violate.
Approved Design: the WEP route approved in the 1990 “Final” EIS (and blocked in federal court in 1996). This route would pave south of the railroad tracks west of Danebo Road through high-quality Endangered Species habitat. The 1997 SDEIS compared this route with a “Modified Project” north of the railroad tracks, which added a flyover ramp from 6th Avenue / Highway 99 to westbound WEP, since an at-grade westbound intersection with eastbound 7th Avenue would cause massive gridlock.
brownfield: an area slated for “development” that has previously been used for other purposes, usually applied to abandoned industrial areas with contamination problems. The euphemism for building commercial or residential development in natural areas not previously paved over is “greenfield.”
Categorical Exclusion: a waiver granted to federal projects with de minimus (too small to be of importance) environmental and social impacts. The WETLANDS Alternative that assumes Peak Oil is here or near might qualify for a CE exemption to environmental review.
cooperating agency: A government agency that uses another agency’s Environmental Impact Statement as the basis for their own decision. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that cooperating agencies participate in the full process of scoping of alternatives, followed by draft EIS, public comments and final EIS before a Record of Decision can be issued. The Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers are Cooperating Agencies for the WEP’s EIS, although both agencies were brought in to the process for the Supplemental Final EIS -- neither participated in previous parts of the process. Therefore, the BLM cannot use the pending SFEIS as a basis for deciding whether or not to allow a highway across the lands it manages, and the Corps cannot use it to determine whether to grant a wetlands destruction permit.
cumulative impact: the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. (40 CFR 1508.7) Neither the 1990 Final EIS nor the 1997 SDEIS examined cumulative impacts on natural ecosystems, highway budgets, or traffic patterns.
customer - a euphemism used by some government agencies to describe citizens
Environmental Assessment: a smaller study than an EIS, it is used to determine whether a proposed project would have significant impacts that must be analyzed in an EIS, or if not, the impacts can be dismissed in a “Finding of No Significant Impact.”
Environmental Impact Statement: a report mandated by the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act to examine the consequences of federal actions upon the natural and built environments. The sequence of an EIS starts with developing a Purpose and Need (to identify a problem), Scoping of Alternatives, a Draft EIS, a public hearing and comment period, review of public input, and finally a Final EIS and a Record of Decision by the agency. If major problems are identified during the Draft phase, new circumstances arise that were not identified, or a major change to the project is made, the agency can be required to issue a Supplemental EIS (which needs to follow the same process as an EIS, except a new P&N and Scoping are not required). The EIS process for the WEP is one of the longest in the history of the NEPA law, since the Purpose and Need was written in 1985.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FHWA is the government agency that would make the “Record of Decision” for the WEP’s route and what efforts would be made to “mitigate” its impacts. FHWA is the main agency that would be sued if the WEP is approved. Local referendums and City Council decisions do not determine federal transportation policies.
future: The TransPlan “future” list is for projects that are desired by land speculators and construction companies but will probably never be built due to lack of funds. Road projects must be in the TransPlan “20 Year Fiscally Constrained” list to be eligible for local, state and/or federal funding. Projects using federal funds must have all phases in the constrained list for any phase to be built. The 2002 TransPlan amendment moved five projects from the 20 Year list to the Future list to fund more of the WEP, including two that ODOT considers part of the “WEP System Cost” – the Belt Line / WEP interchange, and the widening of W. 11th from Terry to Green Hill.
geoslavery: the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to keep track of everyone, all the time. GPS, RFID chip enabled drivers licenses (national IDs), and other electronic surveillance systems (finances, communication, internet, etc) combined together could create a totalitarian state more intrusive than any previous dictatorship.
greenwash (noun, verb): The false claim of environmental protection, usually made by serious polluters with an image problem. Also, campaigns made to further such false claims. synonym: Smart Growth.
highwaymen: 1. persons who rob travelers on a road
(from Webster’s dictionary)
2. politicians and bureaucrats who demand that taxpayers given them money to build a road
impact: A euphemism for “destroy” (“the Modified Project will impact 6.4 hectares of high value wetlands”)
improvements: A euphemism employed by highway promoters. Synonyms: road widening, highway construction.
independent utility: a FHWA requirement that highway projects be a reasonable expenditure even if no additional transportation improvements in the area are made. FHWA states that “as long as a project will serve a significant function by itself (i.e., it has independent utility), there is no requirement to include separate but related projects in the same analysis.” See “segmentation.”
indirect effects: caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other natural systems, including ecosystems.
40 CFR § 1508.8 Effects includes ecological (such as the effects on natural resources and on the components, structures, and functioning of affected ecosystems), aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health, whether direct, indirect, or cumulative. Effects may also include those resulting from actions which may have both beneficial and detrimental effects, even if on balance the agency believes that the effect will be beneficial.
interchange: A grade-separation of two or more highways that allows more traffic at greater speeds than a traffic light controlled intersection. The 1997 SDEIS determined that the proposed traffic light controlled Belt Line / WEP intersection would have severe congestion, and that a grade-separated interchange would be needed for the WEP to have acceptable levels of traffic congestion that met the project’s “purpose and need.” The current WEP option includes the interchange, but the interchange funding was “futured” in 2002 and is not in the TransPlan budget.
intersection: An at-grade junction of two or more roads. In March 2002, ODOT claimed that a traffic light controlled intersection would work at the Belt Line/WEP intersection, although this presumes widening of Belt Line to four lanes between Roosevelt Blvd. and West 11th, which was “futured” to find money for the WEP.
lahar: an Indonesian word for a mudflow caused by a volcanic eruption. A large eruption at South Sister volcano during the winter could theoretically cause a lahar that would cover the proposed Peace Healh hospital site along the McKenzie River.
Land and Water Conservation Fund: a federal program for purchasing significant natural habitats for preservation, lands bought with LWCF money cannot be used for other purposes (such as highway construction). The BLM lands in west Eugene threatened by the WEP were bought with more than $12 million in LWCF appropriations.
Lane Council of Governments: an inter-governmental agency that is a form of “super government” over the County and all of the cities in the County. LCOG bureaucrats have tremendous power shaping long term planning for the County, including projections for future Urban Growth Boundary expansions, new and larger roads, and very long term trends for development. While LCOG has committees that include a number of local elected officials, no LCOG staff person is elected by the public. In contrast, the “Metro” planning agency in the Portland area has an elected board.
logical terminus: FHWA requirement that highway projects are of sufficient length to have independent utility. FHWA defines logical termini as “(1) rational end points for a transportation improvement, and (2) rational end points for a review of the environmental impacts. The environmental impact review frequently covers a broader geographic area than the strict limits of the transportation improvements. ... the most common termini have been points of major traffic generation, especially intersecting roadways.” (The Development of Logical Project Termini, FHWA report) The WEP’s ostensible termini are 126 east of Fisher Road and 6th and 7th Avenues at Garfield Street, although the project’s purpose and need defines the eastern terminus as I-5/I-105.
LUTRAQ: Land Use, Transportation and Air Quality. A study conducted in Portland, Oregon that found that an expanded light rail system, modest work to existing roads and land-use shifts to make communities more public transit oriented would reduce traffic congestion and pollution compared to the Western Bypass (now canceled). Parsons, Brinkerhoff, one of the LUTRAQ contractors, is a major highway construction consultant.
Metropolitan Policy Committee: a division of LCOG that sets regional transportation funding priorities for the Eugene / Springfield / Coburg metropolitan area. MPC includes elected officials from the different jurisdictions, but also gives voting rights to the unelected director of the local ODOT office.
mileage tax: a proposal being considered by the State of Oregon to tax motorists by the number of miles that they drive. While the idea that those who drive more should pay more to maintain the road network seems reasonable, there are severe equity and civil liberties implication. Gas taxes are based on how much fuel people consume, so those who drive gently (which uses less oil) or drive efficient vehicles pay less than those who speed too fast or drive inefficient vehicles. Mileage taxes would also require transponders that keep track of motorists precise travels, since a State tax could not tax people who cross into Washington, Idaho, Nevada or California. This technology would enable the government to generate databases of everyone's movements.
Modified Project: the alignment recommended in the 1997 SDEIS. The Modified Project shifted the route north of the railroad tracks west of Danebo to avoid more rare plants and animals, but this new route would require 4 1⁄2 times as much sand and gravel, and would have a larger “footprint” in the wetlands.
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA): Federal law that governs the approval of major Federal actions, including federal-aid highway construction, BLM land exchanges and Army Corps of Engineers wetland destruction permits. NEPA prohibits segmenting a large project into smaller pieces to avoid disclosing impacts. NEPA is the law that mandates Environmental Assessments (for projects that lack “significant impact”) or Environmental Impact Statements (for large projects).
no-build alternative: a NEPA requirement that all proposed actions must be compared with. On June 19, 2001, ODOT, FHWA and local governments agreed to select “No Build” to close out the WEP EIS. This decision was finally implemented in March 2007 when the FHWA published its "No Build" Record of Decision in the Federal Register (a federal publication of agency notices and decisions).
Osprey Group: a Boulder Colorado consulting group that conducts "collaborations" between governmental agencies, business associations and citizens. They have been involved in projects that seek to mitigate the impacts of transportation projects - a very different goal than preventing destructive projects. One of the Osprey Group's main consultants stated in 2006 that the WETLANDS alternative was very well presented yet their reports for the City of Eugene have pretended that it does not exist.
parkway: Traditionally, a roadway of two or four lanes with increased forest buffer to reduce visual and noise impacts on nearby neighborhoods. Parkways do not allow truck traffic and may or may not be completely limited access (ie., some parkways have traffic lights and at-grade intersections). In recent years, this word has lost most of its meaning since numerous superhighway projects are now called Parkways even though trucks are permitted. This word is central to campaigns to persuading uncertain citizens that highways are compatible with natural ecosystems.
Peak Oil: the all time maximum rate of extraction of petroleum, as charted on a curve. All oil fields have a roughly bell curve shaped rate of production – the initial extraction is of oil that is under pressure and is easiest to extract, but once half of the oil is removed, retrieving the remaining supplies becomes much more difficult. The only debate among petroleum geologists about the precise timing of the global peak of petroleum production is exactly when it will occur, and how fast extract rates will decline – the reality of Peak Oil is not seriously disputed by experts in the field. Most of the debate is between geologists who think we are currently near, or at, the global peak, and those who think it is later in this decade or slightly into the next decade (the official US Geological Survey position is that the global peak is still about three decades away, still in most of our lifetimes but close enough to be an immediate crisis). The peak of oil discoveries worldwide was four decades ago, around 1962. The peak of oil discoveries in the United States was in the 1930s, about four decades before the peak of production in 1970. Much of the theoretical basis for analyzing Peak Oil was performed by the geologist M. King Hubbert in the mid-1950s, who accurately predicted the US would peak around 1970 and that the global peak would come around 2000. President Bush and Vice President Cheney are privately very aware of Peak Oil, and it is likely that 9/11 was allowed to happen (if not arranged) to provide the pretext to invade the Middle East oil fields as the world reaches peak production, since control of the world’s remaining supplies will determine who will control the global economy in the coming decades.
purpose and need: a statement that provides justification for a federal action that will be analyzed by an EIS or EA (the first stage of the NEPA process). The WEP’s P&N was written in 1985, before the BLM bought land in west Eugene. BLM did not participate in the required “scoping” of the EIS as a “cooperating agency.” The WETLANDS alternative meets the P&N better than any version of the WEP.
record of decision: the final part of an EIS process,
whereby a Federal agency approves its preferred alternative. The WEP will
not be approved until and unless the FHWA publishes a ROD, which requires
publication of the Final EIS. A previous ROD for the WEP in 1990 was withdrawn
following the 1996 lawsuit against the FHWA.
In March 2007, the FHWA published a ROD for "No Build" for the WEP.
Region 2050: a planning process run by LCOG to determine how many expansions of the Urban Growth Boundary are sought between now and the year 2050. The Region 2050 task forces are ignoring the critical issues of Peak Oil (which will have some impact on transportation policies long before 2050), climate change (water availability in summertime may limit urbanization and rural agriculture), and the global economic impacts of overpopulation, resource depletion and the emergence of a multi-polar world.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): radio-frequency identification, a new technique for massive tracking of nearly everything on Earth. An RFID chip is about the size of a grain of rice, and contains a small transmitter that emits an 18 digit identification number when a particular wavelength of radio energy is aimed at it (it is a totally passive system, no battery or other internal power source is needed). RFID chips are sought by large grocery stores to replace bar codes, which would enable tracking of individual objects to a much greater degree of precision (RFID chips would keep track of each individual bottle of shampoo, bar codes merely identify that shampoo bottle as a particular brand). RFID chips are planned for credit cards, paper currency, drivers licenses, car tires, grocery store products, and are even being implanted under the skin of people in experimental trial runs. A global surveillance society based on RFID chips would be far more intrusive than any previous dictatorships, far outstripping the police states of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Apartheid South Africa.
Regional Transportation Plan:a new wrinkle in the
hierarchy of bureaucracy crafted in late 2004 to further complicate public
understanding of transportation funding. The RTP supercedes the previous
“TransPlan” process, the metro area’s long term (20
years) highway budget. Federal law requires that all metropolitan areas
much have a regional plan that states how all planned road projects can
be paid for in a 20 year period before any federal highway funds can be
used for road construction. In other words, local governments cannot approve
more roads than will fit into the long term budget.
In November 2007, a new RTP was approved with Mayor Kitty Piercy casting the deciding vote at the LCOG "Metropolitan Policy Committee" meeting. The RTP contained $817 million in proposals for highway expansion through the rest of the petroleum era.
scope: the NEPA process where the range of alternatives are developed for detailed study in an EIS or EA
from 40 CFR § 1508.25: Scope consists of the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered in an environmental impact statement. The scope of an individual statement may depend on its relationships to other statements (§§1502.20 and 1508.28). To determine the scope of environmental impact statements, agencies shall consider 3 types of actions, 3 types of alternatives, and 3 types of impacts. They include:
(a) Actions (other than unconnected single actions) which may be:
(1) Connected actions, which means that they are closely related and therefore should be discussed in the same impact statement. Actions are connected if they:
(i) Automatically trigger other actions which may require environmental impact statements.
(ii) Cannot or will not proceed unless other actions are taken previously or simultaneously.
(iii) Are interdependent parts of a larger action and depend on the larger action for their justification.
(2) Cumulative actions, which when viewed with other proposed actions have cumulatively significant impacts and should therefore be discussed in the same impact statement.
(3) Similar actions, which when viewed with other reasonably foreseeable or proposed agency actions, have similarities that provide a basis for evaluating their environmental consequences together, such as common timing or geography An agency may wish to analyze these actions in the same impact statement. It should do so when the best way to assess adequately the combined impacts of similar actions or reasonable alternatives to such actions is to treat them in a single impact statement.
(b) Alternatives, which include:
(1) No action alternative.
(2) Other reasonable courses of actions.
(3) Mitigation measures (not in the proposed action).
(c) Impacts, which may be:
Section 4(f):A section of the 1966 Transportation Act that prohibits Federal highways through parks, wildlife refuges and historic properties unless there are no “prudent and feasible” alternatives. Section 4(f) requires that agencies consider avoidance before mitigation of impacts. These alternatives may include shifting a highway alignment or adopting a different land use and transportation policy instead of a new highway, as was done in Portland, Oregon.
segmentation: the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 prohibits “segmentation” of a large Federal project into segments to avoid full disclosure of adverse environmental and/or social impacts. see independent utility.
stakeholder: “a person entrusted with the stakes
of bettors” (Webster’s Dictionary)
A euphemism employed by bureaucrats and private consultants describing citizens participating in a public process, a form of government sponsored gambling that may or may not consider public concerns while making decisions.
TransPlan: the Eugene / Springfield metropolitan area’s long term transportation plan, including funding allocations from local, state and federal appropriations. Federal highway law requires that federal-aid highways have all project phases in a 20 year “fiscally constrained” regional highway budget before any construction can begin. Part of TransPlan was renamed Regional Transportation Plan in 2004, which makes following the process even more complicated.
West Eugene Charette: a inter-governmental meeting held June 18 and 19, 2001, involving the City of Eugene, Lane County, the BLM, ODOT, FHWA and other agencies. A primary conclusion agreed to by participants was that ODOT would select “No Build” for the EIS and finish the widening of Belt Line Road and West 11th Street west of Belt Line. The 2002 TransPlan amendments reversed ODOT’s declaration by including most of the WEP and “futuring” the required Belt Line interchange and West 11th widening projects.
West Eugene Collaborative: a committee set up in 2007 ostensibly to look at solutions to West Eugene traffic and land use issues. It is composed of friends of Mayor Kitty Piercy, selected business elites, some governmental staff and elected officials (City, County, State, BLM). The Osprey Group consultants are the facilitators of their meetings. No neighborhood associations from west Eugene were participants to develop their process, and no environmentalists who opposed the Crandall Arambula worse version of the WEP were allowed to participate.