Plans to study a proposed highway in Pinal County are moving forward under a new environmental review process that can proceed while funding has yet to be identified.
The North-South Corridor, spanning 40 miles between US 60 and I-10, would improve regional connectivity, provide an additional way of getting around a growing area of the Sun Corridor, and address current and future transportation needs.
Recognizing the lack of funding for design and construction of the North-South Corridor, the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have decided to transition the project to a tiered environmental process that can be completed over time, while still pursuing funding for further studies and construction.
Under the previous project-level environmental review being used for the North-South Corridor, funding must be identified for the project to move forward and for the Federal Highway Administration to issue its approval.
ADOT published a revised Notice of Intent in the Federal Register in October, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act, kicking off a new formal environmental study process.
This approach will lead to a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement that includes a Record of Decision by the Federal Highway Administration. That will allow a project-level Tier 2 process to move forward, as long as funding is secured.
As part of the new tiered environmental study, ADOT also will identify a corridor that would extend State Route 24 from Ironwood Drive and connect with the North-South Corridor.
The North-South Corridor isn’t included in the regional transportation plans for Maricopa and Pinal counties.
The Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement will use existing environmental and technical work to develop a Corridor Selection Report that will evaluate a wide range of alternatives to help identify opportunities and constraints. It will include the selection of a preferred alternative and a Record of Decision, or the selection of a no-build alternative.
If the North-South Corridor moves forward, the project could be built in full or in segments, once funding has been identified.
Because the North-South Corridor Study began as a project-level environmental impact statement, much of the groundwork has already been laid for the new study process. A public hearing will be held once the Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement is published and ready for comment. That is expected in 2019.
ADOT is considering all funding options to move the proposed North-South Corridor forward through the study process and eventually to construction, once a preferred alternative is selected. Public outreach will continue throughout the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement process to provide opportunities for input on the study. For more information on the North-South Corridor Study, visit the study website at azdot.gov/ NorthSouthCorridorStudy.
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