The Federal Highway Administration hopes to soon figure out what it's going to take to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
And it has agreed to be the lead agency for the project.
"I think we're all anxious to be started on it," division administrator David Geiger said. "We're taking a look at what we think will need to be done to complete the project. It's basically a matter of addressing the comments that came in on the draft SEIS."
The county on Dec. 30 wrote to Geiger asking for help after the FHwA opted not to appeal the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to uphold an injunction on the project. The circuit court agreed with U.S. District Judge Thomas Van Bebber that the possible environmental effects of the project needed to be ironed out before the eastern leg went any further. The SEIS is required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Geiger said the agency had not yet talked to the county about who actually would finish the environmental study, but John Pasley of HNTB did the work on the draft SEIS, the document on which the completed study will be based.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug said Pasley likely will be the engineer to work on the study, but he said hiring someone is a few steps down the road.
Geiger said FHwA's agreement to take a lead role is the first step in "completing the environmental process and subsequently coming to a decision that is best for the Lawrence community and the traveling public."
Pasley has estimated it would take three to six months to finish the SEIS. A noise study and mitigation plan are among the components that need attention.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.