Changes to existing transportation facilities, such as I-70 and the surrounding local roads, are regulated by numerous environmental laws designed to protect the health and safety of the public, sensitive environmental features and property rights of land owners. For more information about the laws visit, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/env_sum.htm.
As a project is first identified, PennDOT will determine its purpose and need. From there, improvement alternatives will be considered. The alternatives will be studied for their potential impact on natural, cultural and socioeconomic resources. To adhere to the various laws and regulations, the alternatives will be evaluated on their ability to address the transportation purpose and need, minimize environmental impacts and satisfy engineering criteria. During this time, coordination and outreach occurs with multiple local, state and federal agencies, local stakeholders and public officials and property owners. The level of effort for each project varies depending on the type of project, amount of impacts and degree of public controversy.
Once an improvement alternative has been selected and environmental clearance is granted, engineers will begin to finalize design plans and prepare the project for construction. PennDOT’s ultimate goal is to select, design and construct the most reasonable, practical, cost effective, technically sound and environmental sensitive transportation improvement option. Currently, there are 5 projects being designed along I-70.