The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the U.S. Highway 275 (US-275) West Point to Scribner Project (project) proposed by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) (applicant).
NDOT proposes to expand US-275 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway along an approximately 20-mile segment from northwest of West Point to southeast of Scribner, including a bypass around Scribner (Scribner Bypass), in Cuming and Dodge Counties, Nebraska. The necessity for the expansion of this portion of US-275 arises from legislation, lack of efficient connectivity between urban centers, and high average daily traffic use.
NDOT Stated Project Purposes
- Advance the West Point to Scribner section of the Norfolk to Fremont Expressway (as identified in the 1988 Nebraska Highway Needs Study).
- Maximize utilization of existing transportation infrastructure and right-of-way (ROW), including connecting Nebraska state highways (Nebraska Highways N-9, N-32, and N-91).
- Improve the safety and reliability of the roadway.
- Provide a more efficient roadway that improves regional connectivity for the traveling public, including commercial traffic, in northeast Nebraska.
- Fulfill the Nebraska Legislature mandates per Legislative Bill (LB) 632 (1988), the Build Nebraska Act (BNA) and LB 84 (2011), and the Transportation Innovation Act and LB 960 (2016).
USACE Overall Project Purpose
The overall Project purpose, as defined by USACE, is to safely and efficiently improve regional connectivity between West Point and Scribner for existing and future traffic volumes while also improving connectivity to Highways N-9, N-32, and N-91 through improved intersection geometrics, and, where applicable, to not be injurious to the public interest and to not impair the usefulness of the Pebble Creek Left Bank and Elkhorn River Right Bank federal levee system. (This overall project purpose is a combination of NDOT’s [applicant’s] project purpose and need, along with the scopes considered under USACE’s Section 404 and Section 408 authorities.)
The project construction is expected to impact jurisdictional waters of the United States, thereby requiring a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit. Additionally, NDOT is proposing to build segments of the Scribner Bypass on an existing federally authorized levee, which would require a USACE Section 408 authorization. The project may also affect Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) easements which would require NRCS to complete an easement administrative action. Due to these requirements, USACE has determined that an EIS is necessary to comply with requirements of NEPA and the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.
USACE, as the lead federal agency under NEPA, conducted scoping and subsequent agency coordination and public review to complete a Final EIS with the required information needed to make informed decisions pertaining to the Section 404 permit application and the Section 408 authorization request submitted by NDOT. The EIS was prepared in accordance under the provisions of Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects (revoked on January 20, 2021 by Executive Order 13990) and also under the provisions of Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. Cooperating agency agreements were established with agencies having jurisdiction over resources that would be impacted by the Project. Coordination efforts between USACE and the cooperating agencies included reaching concurrence at three stages of EIS development. The NRCS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Nebraska Game and Parks (NGPC), and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) served as cooperating agencies; Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office (NE SHPO), and Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NE DNR) participated as commenting agencies. Public involvement in this EIS process has occurred through formal comment periods, meetings, written comments, newspaper/website notices, press releases, agency and stakeholder mailings, and this project website.