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Billings Area I-90 Corridor Planning Study

Billings Area I-90 Corridor

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Corridor Planning Study?

A Corridor Planning Study is a planning-level assessment of a study area occurring before project-level environmental compliance activities under the National and Montana Environmental Policy Acts (NEPA/MEPA). MDT developed a Corridor Planning Study process to provide a better link between early transportation planning and environmental compliance efforts. The Corridor Planning Study process involves conducting a high-level evaluation of safety, operational, and geometric conditions, and environmental resources within a corridor in order to identify needs and constraints. This process allows MDT to save time and money in subsequent project phases by facilitating early identification of constraints within a corridor through early coordination with members of the community, resource agencies, and other interested parties; screening of possible improvement options and elimination of infeasible options.

A Corridor Planning Study is a planning document that considers multiple improvement options throughout a corridor. This planning process is distinct from a NEPA/MEPA environmental compliance document and from design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction phases for an individual project.

For additional information, refer to MDT's corridor study process.

What does a "pre-NEPA/MEPA Corridor Study" mean?

The National and Montana Environmental Policy Acts (NEPA/MEPA) require state and federal agencies to disclose impacts resulting from state and federal actions. In the context of transportation projects, the NEPA/MEPA process is intended to assist officials in making transportation decisions, while taking into account the human and natural environment and the community's need for safe and efficient transportation. The NEPA/MEPA process ensures that information about anticipated transportation project impacts is available to the community before decisions are made and carried out.

The Billings Area I-90 Corridor Planning Study is a pre-NEPA/MEPA study that will involve a planning-level assessment of I-90. The planning process will include a high-level review of potential environmental issues and concerns. The results of this planning-level environmental review could be used to assist in later NEPA/MEPA environmental compliance phases for individual projects.

Who is conducting this study?

The Montana Department of Transportation, in cooperation with FHWA, the City of Billings, and Yellowstone County, is conducting this study. DOWL HKM is assisting these partners in completing the planning effort by March 2012.

What steps will be taken during the Corridor Study?

MDT has established a corridor planning study procedure. The steps involved in this process include:

  1. Develop Corridor Study Work Plan
    The planning team will assess the complexity of issues within the corridor and the level of effort required to address the issues.
  2. Develop Existing and Projected Conditions Report
    The report will assess the geometric characteristics, crash history, and existing and projected operational characteristics of I-90 Interstate segments and interchanges, as well as existing and projected physical constraints, land uses, and environmental resources within the corridor study area.
  3. Identify Needs, Objectives, and Screening Criteria
    In consideration of comments submitted during community and resource agency involvement efforts, the planning team will identify needs and objectives for the corridor and a corresponding set of screening criteria that will be used to evaluate improvement options.
  4. Identify and Analyze Improvement Options
    The planning team will identify a preliminary set of short-term and long-term improvement options, which will be evaluated based on their ability to meet the screening criteria and address the I-90 corridor needs and objectives.
  5. Recommend Improvement Options
    The planning team will recommend improvement options to address the I-90 corridor needs and objectives. Potential impacts, mitigation opportunities, and estimated costs will be identified for each improvement option.
  6. Prepare Draft Corridor Study Report
    The planning team will prepare a draft report documenting the corridor planning process, including community and agency input, key findings, recommendations, and next steps. The team will seek comments on the draft report from resource agencies, stakeholders, and members of the community.
  7. Finalize Corridor Study Report
    The planning team will finalize the corridor study report, incorporating comments from the community members, resource agencies, and other interested parties. Recommendations from the study will assist MDT in identifying potential projects based on needs, objectives, and funding availability.

What happens next?

A Corridor Planning Study is a planning document that considers multiple improvement options throughout a transportation corridor. This early planning process is distinct from the environmental compliance, design, and construction phases of an individual project. Future steps, if any, will be determined by MDT, in conjunction with FHWA, the City of Billings, and Yellowstone County.

How can the community become involved in the study?

The community is encouraged to participate in the corridor planning process. Two informational meetings will be hosted over the course of the study. The date, time, and location for these meetings will be announced prior to each event through local media and this website. Community members may also review project information posted on this website and provide input on an ongoing basis.

MDT and DOWL HKM will collect and consider all comments received to better understand community views of potential issues, concerns, opportunities, and constraints in the corridor. The planning team will recommend improvement options that best meet the study purpose and are supported by local governments, resource agencies, stakeholders, and the community.

When should I submit comments?

Comments will be considered throughout the twelve-month corridor planning study process. Comments sheets will also be available at informational meetings and online.

How can I stay informed and be part of the process?

MDT encourages interested community members to join the study mailing list by submitting contact information to Sarah Nicolai at the address or email below or by submitting a comment.

Throughout the twelve-month corridor planning study process, information will be published on this website, in local media venues, and via newsletters. The community may also provide input or submit questions by contacting one of the people listed in the aside column.