Please excuse the lateness of this message, but Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) could not miss this chance to alert you to the opportunity to comment on and support resistance to the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on the U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek Road to Moscow project. On Friday, August 14, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, published a notice of availability of the FEIS for the Highway 95 realignment and expansion project in the Federal Register, starting a 30-day public (citizen and agency) review period. After myriad delays during a decade of concerned citizen contentions and “intense review and study,” ITD and FHWA have again indicated their preference for the easternmost route, E-2 along the flanks of Paradise Ridge, from among the no action and three action alternatives (modified W-4, C-3, and E-2) of the FEIS.
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC), to which WIRT contributes as a member organization and board member, received this news from its attorney a few days before FEIS release. The huge document, accessible electronically on an ITD website and available for public viewing through printed paper copies at various locations like libraries, city halls, and chambers of commerce, offers corrections to the January 2013 draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and thousands of pages of combined public comments on the DEIS, ITD responses, appendices, and technical reports (some presenting new information). Its size alone, not to mention its numerous shortcomings, warrant an extension of time to review its analyses of project effects on natural and human environments. Nonetheless, PRDC board members and their lawyer have been urgently scrutinizing the FEIS, applying their greatly appreciated, collective expertise, diligence, and doggedness, to identify and develop legally defensible arguments refuting multiple aspects of the FEIS. They have recently held a special and regular monthly meeting, and intend to submit final comments before the September 14, 2015 deadline.
At an unknown time after the 30-day review period, FHWA will issue a record of decision (ROD) for the highway improvement project purportedly improving the safety and capacity of the 6.3-mile segment of U.S. 95 between mileposts 338 and 344 – Thorn Creek Road to the South Fork Palouse River Bridge in Latah County, Idaho. PRDC and WIRT will send updates on the situation and opportunities for your involvement, as PRDC and its lawyer review the FEIS and consider as quickly as possible potential litigation and supporting actions such as membership meetings and recruitment of impacted residents, fundraising events and mechanisms to cover legal costs, and effective public protests.
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