Notice of Intent to Begin Engineering and Environmental Studies and Flood Plain Encroachment: Seward Highway MP 105-109.5, Windy Corner to Rainbow Point

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) has assumed the responsibilities of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under 23 U.S.C 327, and is soliciting comments and information on a project that would realign and construct safety improvements to the Seward Highway between mileposts (MP) 105 and 109.5, Windy Corner to Rainbow Point, in the Municipality of Anchorage. The purpose of the proposed project is to implement safety upgrades to decrease high-severity crashes and improve traffic operations to alleviate traffic congestion.

The beginning of project is located at Latitude 60.983322, Longitude -149.579692 (approximately 600 feet north of Falls Creek Trailhead); and the end of project is located at Latitude 61.002864, Longitude -149.664122 (approximately 3,000 feet north of Rainbow Valley Road).

The efforts to improve safety along the Seward Highway between Girdwood and Anchorage began in the early 2000s. A Categorical Exclusion was prepared for Seward Highway Safety Improvements, Indian to Potter Marsh, MP 105 to MP 115 and the Categorical Exclusion was approved in 2004 and reevaluated as a part of the smaller Seward Highway: MP 105 to 107, Windy Corner project, which commenced in 2013. As a result of public feedback and consultation with the FHWA, the Class of Action was revised to an Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2017.

Agency scoping and public involvement was conducted in compliance with National Environmental Policy Act requirements to produce a Draft EA for the Seward Highway: Windy Corner (MP 105 to MP 107), which was completed in March 2020. After reviewing public comments, DOT&PF extended the project 2.5 miles between Windy Corner and Rainbow Point to address concerns. Public and agency scoping as a part of a new EA commenced in spring 2021 for the renamed project, Seward Highway, Windy Corner to Rainbow Point (MP 105 to 109.5).

Key Changes include:

Extending the project further north to Rainbow Point for a more expansive safety improvement corridor

Evaluating the feasibility of obtaining materials for the project from the new road realignment to reduce impacts to Chugach State Park. The March 2020 Draft EA proposed obtaining material from separate material locations within the Park at MP 104 and 109.

Consideration of a separated multi-use pathway connecting the Windy Corner and Rainbow trailheads

The proposed project would:

Realign and construct a divided 2-lane highway from MP 105 to MP 107 and an undivided 2-lane highway from MP 107 to MP 109.5

Relocate and realign the Alaska Railroad Corporation’s railroad tracks (as needed)

Construct pull-offs/parking areas on both sides of the highway to reduce motorists parking on the highway shoulder to view wildlife, Turnagain Arm, and/or access CSP

Construct acceleration and deceleration lanes to access new pull-offs and/or Rainbow Valley Road

Construct rock catchments adjacent to the northbound edge of designed pathway (as needed)

Design a separated pedestrian pathway and secure right-of-way between Windy Corner and Rainbow Trailheads adjacent to the northbound lane

Project activities, such as roadway and railroad realignments and incidental drainage work, may result in longitudinal encroachments into base floodplains adjoining Turnagain Arm and roadside ditches as well as a crossing encroachment into the base floodplain adjoining Rainbow Creek. The project is located on Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Insurance Rate Map panels 0200051500D, 0200051475D, and 020051200D.  Base floodplain encroachments are anticipated to be minor, with no net changes to the base flood elevations, therefore they would not result in significant encroachments as defined in 23CFR 650.105(q) and USDOT Order 5650.2(4)(p).

The proposed project would comply with all applicable authorities including Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; Executive Order-11990 (Wetland Protection); Executive Order-11988 (Floodplain Management); Executive Order-12898 (Environmental Justice); Executive Order 11593 (Historic Preservation; Executive Order 13084 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments; Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act; U.S. DOT Act Section 4(f); Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act; Endangered Species Act; Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Management Act; and Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Act.

Engineering and Environmental Studies will be conducted during summer 2021 and construction is projected to begin fall 2024.

DOT&PF is soliciting comments on the proposed project. Your comments would help us evaluate potential environmental, social, and economic impacts of this project, as well as impacts to historic and cultural resources. Please submit your written comments to the following address.

Brian Elliott, Regional Environmental Manager
DOT&PF Central Region Preliminary Design & Environmental
P.O. Box 196900
Anchorage, AK 99519-6900

To ensure that all possible factors are considered, please provide written comments to the above address by June 9, 2021. If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Tom Schmid, P.E., Project Manager, at (907) 269-0543 or Bob Effinger, Environmental Impact Analyst, at (907) 269-0531.

The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable Federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by DOT&PF pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated November 3, 2017, and executed by FHWA and DOT&PF.

It is the policy of DOT&PF that no person shall be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, any and all programs or activities we provide based on race, religion, color, gender, age, marital status, ability, or national origin, regardless of the funding source including Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration and State of Alaska funds. DOT&PF complies with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Individuals with a hearing impairment can contact DOT&PF at our Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (907) 269-0473.

Attachments, History, Details



Revision History

Created 5/5/2021 4:33:51 PM by radowd
Modified 5/7/2021 9:20:20 AM by radowd


Department: Transportation and Public Facilities
Category: Public Notices
Location(s): Anchorage, Central Region
Project/Regulation #: Z56631000/0A31034
Publish Date: 5/5/2021
Archive Date: 6/11/2021