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Author Topic: Utah  (Read 43681 times)

Rothman

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Re: Utah
« Reply #225 on: June 07, 2021, 07:05:03 AM »

We as a country need to go back and rethink the environmental laws we have on the books. I understand the need for protecting our environment and as someone who spends much of their time outdoors and in our parks I appreciate conservation efforts.

That said we shouldn’t have projects left and right delayed or canceled due to unreasonable environmental restrictions.
I'd imagine 90% of the projects out there are not delayed by environmental work, if not more.  Most federal-aid projects are categorical exclusions to NEPA.
Interesting given the fact that it takes years and years longer to get a project going today than it used to before environmental laws were on the books.

Again, your umbrella statement is not supported by reality.  I have direct experience with federal-aid project development.  All simple federal-aid projects that don't need ROW or other special considerations can get going within a fiscal year.  Even with ROW, here in NY, that is given an additional year in the project schedule to deal with property needs.  Environmental determination can be had on these projects by design approval without affecting the schedule (i.e., when you're supposed to).  These types of projects represent the massive bulk of states' programs and the environmental paperwork's cost is a matter of actual cost (people's salaries devoted to the work at state and federal levels plus overhead) rather than a major detriment to the schedule.

For the few, larger projects that are actually building new facilities or widening them -- you know, projects that actually have an environmental impact -- sure, the process takes a little longer to do those reviews and for good reason.  Still, I've been amazed by how quickly the I-81 project here in NY made it through the DEIS, especially after MA's EIS experience with the Big Dig.

Therefore, if there are "years and years" of delay, I doubt the major factor is the environmental review.  You can add a year or two for that in the case of these larger projects.  But, more than that indicates a lack of funding or political desire for the project to progress rather than environmental concerns.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 07:07:12 AM by Rothman »
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Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

BigManFromAFRICA88

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Re: Utah
« Reply #226 on: June 08, 2021, 02:48:54 PM »

We as a country need to go back and rethink the environmental laws we have on the books. I understand the need for protecting our environment and as someone who spends much of their time outdoors and in our parks I appreciate conservation efforts.

That said we shouldn’t have projects left and right delayed or canceled due to unreasonable environmental restrictions.
I'd imagine 90% of the projects out there are not delayed by environmental work, if not more.  Most federal-aid projects are categorical exclusions to NEPA.
Interesting given the fact that it takes years and years longer to get a project going today than it used to before environmental laws were on the books.

Again, your umbrella statement is not supported by reality.  I have direct experience with federal-aid project development.  All simple federal-aid projects that don't need ROW or other special considerations can get going within a fiscal year.  Even with ROW, here in NY, that is given an additional year in the project schedule to deal with property needs.  Environmental determination can be had on these projects by design approval without affecting the schedule (i.e., when you're supposed to).  These types of projects represent the massive bulk of states' programs and the environmental paperwork's cost is a matter of actual cost (people's salaries devoted to the work at state and federal levels plus overhead) rather than a major detriment to the schedule.

For the few, larger projects that are actually building new facilities or widening them -- you know, projects that actually have an environmental impact -- sure, the process takes a little longer to do those reviews and for good reason.  Still, I've been amazed by how quickly the I-81 project here in NY made it through the DEIS, especially after MA's EIS experience with the Big Dig.

Therefore, if there are "years and years" of delay, I doubt the major factor is the environmental review.  You can add a year or two for that in the case of these larger projects.  But, more than that indicates a lack of funding or political desire for the project to progress rather than environmental concerns.


I have far fewer expertise than Rothman in terms of DOT experience but I want to emphasize some of the last points that it mainly comes down to funding. Big projects require a large amount of taxes or alternate forms of funding, and the recent trend in the US is that people just don't want to fund those projects as much. Some don't want to fund them due to concerns on government spending; some don't want to fund them due to conservational activism. I think the delays are a confluence of both that and various other factors... you can't just pin the blame on environmental laws.

Plus, I personally think it's good that we have longer EIS processes to make sure that a route is going exactly where it should go, especially with the technology and analytics we have today.
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jakeroot

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Re: Utah
« Reply #227 on: June 08, 2021, 04:52:33 PM »

Plus, I personally think it's good that we have longer EIS processes to make sure that a route is going exactly where it should go, especially with the technology and analytics we have today.

As long as we're underscoring each other here, I will underscore this point. The EIS process is not fast (it shouldn't be fast, as there are way too many factors at play), but modern technology should make the EIS process easier, no matter if you're using GIS data to highlight a highway routing that impacts certain kinds of soil the least, or setting up an online open house to invite comments and feedback.

I suppose there are some places where it's easier (flat areas?), but around here, the EIS process is really essential: tons of little creeks and tributaries; the soil changes every 20 feet; hills, valleys, and farmland; protected animals and trees; other projects(!); you can't just throw the environmental review process to the wind because it extends project timelines. Apart from relatively unusual circumstances, there is usually an alternative that works for everyone that can be find through an effective EIS process.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Utah
« Reply #228 on: June 09, 2021, 09:06:30 PM »

We as a country need to go back and rethink the environmental laws we have on the books. I understand the need for protecting our environment and as someone who spends much of their time outdoors and in our parks I appreciate conservation efforts.

That said we shouldn’t have projects left and right delayed or canceled due to unreasonable environmental restrictions.
I'd imagine 90% of the projects out there are not delayed by environmental work, if not more.  Most federal-aid projects are categorical exclusions to NEPA.
Interesting given the fact that it takes years and years longer to get a project going today than it used to before environmental laws were on the books.

Again, your umbrella statement is not supported by reality.  I have direct experience with federal-aid project development.  All simple federal-aid projects that don't need ROW or other special considerations can get going within a fiscal year.  Even with ROW, here in NY, that is given an additional year in the project schedule to deal with property needs.  Environmental determination can be had on these projects by design approval without affecting the schedule (i.e., when you're supposed to).  These types of projects represent the massive bulk of states' programs and the environmental paperwork's cost is a matter of actual cost (people's salaries devoted to the work at state and federal levels plus overhead) rather than a major detriment to the schedule.

For the few, larger projects that are actually building new facilities or widening them -- you know, projects that actually have an environmental impact -- sure, the process takes a little longer to do those reviews and for good reason.  Still, I've been amazed by how quickly the I-81 project here in NY made it through the DEIS, especially after MA's EIS experience with the Big Dig.

Therefore, if there are "years and years" of delay, I doubt the major factor is the environmental review.  You can add a year or two for that in the case of these larger projects.  But, more than that indicates a lack of funding or political desire for the project to progress rather than environmental concerns.
I hear what you’re saying but you’re not convincing me that our current process isn’t causing unnecessarily long delays in road projects. The Golden Gate Bridge was conceived, funded, and built in less than 6 years. There has to be middle ground between that and taking 20+ years to build a new bay bridge. Projects all across the country suffer this fate or close to it. I see article after article detailing how it takes DOTs decades to complete a project from its inception from the EIS to the public input.

This is infrastructure that was needed yesterday yet somehow we seem perfectly content with telling people sitting in soul crushing traffic don’t worry the new train or additional freeway lanes will be here in 10 years. Meanwhile in China:

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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Utah
« Reply #229 on: June 09, 2021, 09:07:29 PM »

Plus, I personally think it's good that we have longer EIS processes to make sure that a route is going exactly where it should go, especially with the technology and analytics we have today.

As long as we're underscoring each other here, I will underscore this point. The EIS process is not fast (it shouldn't be fast, as there are way too many factors at play), but modern technology should make the EIS process easier, no matter if you're using GIS data to highlight a highway routing that impacts certain kinds of soil the least, or setting up an online open house to invite comments and feedback.

I suppose there are some places where it's easier (flat areas?), but around here, the EIS process is really essential: tons of little creeks and tributaries; the soil changes every 20 feet; hills, valleys, and farmland; protected animals and trees; other projects(!); you can't just throw the environmental review process to the wind because it extends project timelines. Apart from relatively unusual circumstances, there is usually an alternative that works for everyone that can be find through an effective EIS process.
Yet that’s always the argument I hear when I dare criticize the EIS process is that we can’t just do away with it. I’m not suggesting that.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Utah
« Reply #230 on: June 09, 2021, 10:47:03 PM »

Yes, fascist regimes like China can build shit faster.  At the cost of your liberty.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Utah
« Reply #231 on: June 09, 2021, 11:26:51 PM »

Yes, fascist regimes like China can build shit faster.  At the cost of your liberty.
As I said, there is middle ground.
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i-215

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Re: Utah
« Reply #232 on: June 22, 2021, 11:45:54 PM »

It's not like Los Angeles County which nearly killed a widening project for the I-710 freeway -- after over 10 years of EIS.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-05-27/l-a-transportation-leaders-stop-short-of-pulling-the-plug-on-710-freeway-expansion

Utah seems to strike a fairly reasonable middle ground.  Mountain View Corridor was (I believe) about 6-7 years from the beginning of the EIS process to first construction.  Which gave time for the state legislature to cobble together funding to actually build it.   And the EIS appears quite thorough.  MVC hasn't been a magnet for law suits and is actually getting built out. 
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US 89

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Re: Utah
« Reply #233 on: June 23, 2021, 12:50:09 AM »

I see something like the West Davis Highway further north as a perfect example of how the environmental process should work when you're talking about building roads through sensitive areas. UDOT spent 3 years writing up a draft EIS and was willing to work with the various environmental groups that put up a fight. They spent another four years studying additional alternatives, making concessions, and ironing out changes to the original plan before getting a final EIS and record of decision done, and for the most part even the environmentalists seem to be satisfied with the final product. (Of course, it took another 4 years for construction to actually start due to funding issues and covid.)

UDOT learned their lesson from when they first tried to build the Legacy Parkway. The initial EIS for that project was rather incomplete and rushed, and as a result it spent four years getting dragged through lawsuits before a compromise was worked out that included a whole laundry list of concessions UDOT had to make (some of which were a little excessive in my opinion). The highway was supposed to be done for the 2002 Olympics ... it did not open until 2008.

Mountain View is a different animal because it doesn't involve major environmental issues like wetlands (Legacy, West Davis) or endangered species (Northern Corridor). It's just a suburban/exurban highway - and for the most part, there isn't really a huge NIMBY mentality in Utah with respect to roads (sure there's some, but way less than you see in other parts of the US). It's only when environmental issues come into play that projects around here really run into roadblocks.

andy3175

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Re: Utah
« Reply #234 on: July 10, 2021, 09:37:25 AM »

Utah 9 in Springdale at the entrance to Zion National Park was damaged by a flood caused by a thunderstorm that dropped an inch of rain in an hour on June 29. Over 100 cars were in the path of floodwater, along with several buildings. The local Quality Inn is likely a total loss due to the volume of water and mud in the building. Also significantly damaged were Cable Mountain Lodge and Zion Campfire Lodge.

Some articles including videos:

https://www.thedrive.com/news/41376/flash-flood-in-zion-national-park-buries-over-100-cars-in-red-mud

https://www.outtherecolorado.com/news/video-terrifying-footage-shows-family-caught-in-flash-flood-in-zion/article_9ddfb980-df3f-11eb-a5f0-1f3dc15e8588.amp.html

https://www.ksl.com/article/50195787/zion-national-park-officials-cleaning-up-after-flash-floods-sweep-southern-utah

Utah 9 was closed in Springdale and suffered some pavement damage from the flood of mud, boulders, and debris. It has since reopened as cleanup continued over the past week.  Details from a June 30 release from the National Park Service:

https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/news/zion-national-park-continues-clean-up-after-flash-flood.htm

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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Utah
« Reply #235 on: July 10, 2021, 03:34:02 PM »

They also doing tunnel work in Zion to the main tunnel and I only found that out after driving 30 minutes from La Verkin. I was on my way from LA to Moab and since I travel so much I often get bored of interstates and prefer the two lane backroads. I do wish they’d put a sign at La Verkin though the closure was listed on their website. Oh well.

Oddly enough I found myself wondering how the flood control was around here given the narrow canyon and lots of impermeable surfaces natural or otherwise. I also got my first dose of how bad traffic can really be going through the west entrance. A low key personal rapid transit system would be cool to test out here.
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