Montana Department of Transportation

MDT Meetings and Events

Ronan - Recreation-Refuge Impacts Proposed For U.S. Hwy 93



January 9, 2019



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE	



Heidy Bruner, Federal
Highways Administration, (406) 441-3914, heidy.bruner@dot.gov


Federal Highways Administration and Montana Department of
Transportation Propose Impacts to Recreation and Refuge Areas Along
U.S. Highway 93 South of Ronan



RONAN — The Federal Highways
Administration (FHWA) and Montana Department of Transportation (MDT)
are proposing the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 93 (US-93) between
Redhorn Road and Brooke Lane located south of Ronan in Lake County. 


Currently, this approximately 8-mile segment has been broken into two
projects referred to as the Post Creek Hill project and the Ninepipe
Section. The Post Creek Hill project between Redhorn Road and 2,000
feet north of Gunlock Road is approximately 3.7 miles long and is
currently in preliminary design. The Ninepipe Section extending from
the northern end of the Post Creek Hill project to Brooke Lane is a
reconstruction project that will be designed in the future. 



The
purpose of the project is to improve the transportation system
between Evaro and Polson. Proposed work includes widening and
reconstructing the highway, constructing a northbound passing lane on
Post Creek Hill, adding a 10-foot-wide path for bikes and
pedestrians, intersection improvements, wildlife crossing structures,
environmental enhancements, and revegetation of disturbed areas with
consideration of the impacts on the landscape.



Highway right-of-way
will be required for these improvements. It is anticipated that
construction in the US-93 Ninepipe/Ronan project corridor could begin
in 2022 with one or more separate construction projects, depending on
funding availability and other factors.



The proposed project travels
through the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) owned by
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and managed by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Kerr Mitigation Land owned
and managed by the CSKT, the Kicking Horse Waterfowl Production Area
(WPA) owned and managed by the USFWS, and the Ninepipe Wildlife
Management Area (WMA) owned and managed by the Montana Department of
Fish, Wildlife and Parks. These special resources are protected under
Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 as
recreational areas and wildlife and waterfowl refuges.



The
transportation improvements that are currently being proposed were
identified as the preferred rural alternative in the Final
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) that was
completed in February 2008. At that time, the FEIS did not include
impacts to properties protected under Section 4(f). However, as the
design of the roadway and pedestrian facilities has progressed,
unavoidable Section 4(f) impacts have been identified. 


Approximately 6.54 acres from the Ninepipe WMA, 0.54 acres from the
Kicking Horse WPA, 0.75 acres from Ninepipe NWR and 1.17 acres from
the Kerr Mitigation Land are expected to be incorporated into the
transportation facility. Additionally, property boundary fencing
would be replaced, construction slope grading would temporarily
disturb vegetation, and temporary access interruptions are expected
for some parcels during construction.



Through impact avoidance,
minimization and mitigation or enhancement measures, FHWA’s
preliminary conclusion is that the impacts to the Section 4(f)
properties can be classified as “de minimis”. This means that FHWA
currently concludes that the impacts of the proposed project would
not adversely affect the activities, features, or attributes that
qualify those resources for protection under Section 4(f). With this
notice, the public has an opportunity to review and comment on the
effects of the project on the Section 4(f) resources listed above. 


If you would like to request more information or to provide comment,
please contact Heidy Bruner, Federal Highway Administration, 585
Shepard Way, Suite 2, Helena, MT 59601; (406) 441-3914,
heidy.bruner@dot.gov. 



Please submit your comments by February 20,
2019. 



Alternative accessible formats of this information will be
provided upon request by contacting Alice Flesch, Human Resources and
Occupational Safety Division, P.O. Box 201001, Helena, MT 59620;
(406) 444-9229; TTY (800) 335-7592; fax (406) 444-7243, or e-mail to
aflesch@mt.gov.

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