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What is a Corridor Planning Study?

The MDT developed the Corridor Planning Process in an effort to better coordinate and link the planning process with the NEPA/MEPA process. It is important to note that the Corridor Planning Study is developed strictly as a planning project and not a design or construction project. A Corridor Planning Study evaluates safety, environmental and geometric concerns of a transportation corridor and identifies needs throughout the corridor and possible improvement options to address those needs. Cost, availability of funding, and phasing possibilities are taken into consideration with possible improvement options.

What does a "pre-NEPA/MEPA Corridor Study" mean?

NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act. Modeled after NEPA, MEPA is the Montana Environmental Policy Act, and it only applies to state agencies and state actions. NEPA is a federal law that outlines policies and goals to be complied with to assist public officials in making decisions taking into account the human and natural environment and the public's need for safe and efficient transportation. The NEPA/MEPA process also makes sure that environmental information is available to the public before decisions are made and carried out.

The US 93 Polson Corridor Study is a pre-NEPA/MEPA study that will include a high level environmental scan of potential issues.

For additional information, refer to MDT's corridor study process.

Who is conducting this study?

The Montana Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Lake County, and the City of Polson, are conducting this study. The Helena office of Camp Dresser & McKee(CDM) is assisting these partners in completing the planning effort by mid-June 2011.

What steps will be taken during the Corridor Study?

The MDT has established several steps that will be followed to produce an effective corridor study. These include:

  1. Develop corridor study work plan. The planning team will assess the complexity of issues within the corridor and the level of effort required to address the issues.
  2. Develop existing and projected conditions report. The report will analyze existing and projected conditions, incorporate findings from an environmental scan, and consider local community vision, goals and objectives. Perceived corridor deficiencies, known impacts and potential mitigation opportunities will be documented as part of the report.
  3. Identify needs, issues, impacts, goals, and screening criteria. The planning team will consider comments from local governments, resource agencies, and public involvement to develop screening criteria and objectives for improvement options analysis. The screening criteria will be related to the identified needs, issues, impacts, goals, costs, and funding and resources available.
  4. Determine improvement options advanced and not advanced. The planning team will analyze each improvement option using the identified screening criteria leading to a selection of preliminary improvement options advanced and not advanced.
  5. Recommend improvement options. The planning team will recommend a complete package of improvement option(s) for improving the US 93 corridor. Potential impacts and mitigation opportunities will be identified within the corridor.
  6. Prepare draft corridor study report. Based on key findings, needs, screening criteria, and recommendations, the planning team will develop a draft corridor study report. Consultation and comments on the draft report will be obtained from local governments, resource agencies, as well as through public involvement.
  7. Make recommendations. The planning team will finalize the corridor study report. This Corridor Study may then transition forward to implementation.

What happens next?

The Corridor Study is developed strictly as a planning study and not a design or environmental review project. Future steps, if any, will be determined by the MDT, in conjunction with Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Lake County, and the City of Polson.

How can the public/community become involved in the study?

The general public is invited to participate in the process through public meetings (scheduled to begin September 9, 2010) and ongoing project information review and input. This study web site has been developed to provide on-line opportunities to comment on the needs of the US 93 corridor and later on the draft plan recommendations. Dates, times, and locations for all public outreach opportunities will be announced prior to the events through the local media and the project mailing list.

CDM and the MDT will collect and consider all public comments received to better understand the public view of potential issues. The team will then determine the next steps that best meets the study purpose and has the support of cooperating organizations, local governments, regulatory agencies, stakeholders, and the general public.

When is the best time to give comments?

Because there is no formal comment period for this study, comments will be considered throughout the 12 month study process.

How can I stay informed and be part of the process?

Those with a specific interest in the study are encouraged to join the study mailing list. They can do so by submitting their name and contact information to Jeff Key at the address or e-mail shown below or completing and returning the study comment sheets from the public meetings or found on this website.

To keep the public informed about the study, project information is being published on this web site, local media venues, and newsletters. The public may also provide input or questions by contacting:

Sheila Ludlow
MDT Project Manager

Joe Hovenkotter
Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes

Bill Barron
Lake County

Todd Crossett
City of Polson

Jeff Key
CDM Project Manager