Targhee Pass News
EA Update as of December 2019
The EA was released for public and agency comments in January 2019. The public comment period ran from January 2nd to February 1st. Numerous comment letters were received from the public, agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.
ITD has been working with FHWA to respond to comments and revise the EA as necessary. ITD and FHWA are also completing coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation Office to meet regulatory requirements. At this time, the Final EA is expected to be released in Spring 2020. However, the project construction funding has been delayed in the ITIP (Idaho Transportation Improvement Program) to Fiscal Year 2026.
ITD is currently compiling and reviewing all of the comments received since the release of the EA. Next steps in the EA process include the following:
- Respond to public and agency comments and revise the EA as necessary.
- Based on the final EA analyses, determine if the proposed project would result in significant environmental or cultural impacts and thus require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, or if it does not, then a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). A FONSI summarizes the results of the EA and the reasons for the impact determinations. It also includes the responses to comments and discussion of any proposed mitigations.
- Issue a public notice on the availability of the FONSI. The signing of the FONSI by FHWA concludes the EA process.
After the EA has been concluded, a mitigation plan will be developed based on the environmental commitments from the FONSI. This mitigation plan would be a part of the plans, specifications and engineering for the construction contractor. Estimated start date for reconstruction of Targhee Pass is 2026.
ITD and FHWA evaluated a number of possible alternatives to improve roadway structural integrity, traffic flow and safety of the Targhee Pass segment of U.S. 20. The EA summarizes the impacts of each alternative, and identifies Alternative 3 as the preferred alternative.
Roadway improvements included with Alternative 3 (and all of the build alternatives) are:
- An additional travel lane in the uphill direction from SH 87 to the Montana State line
- Shoulder widening from 5-feet to 8-feet
- Hill cut to improve stopping sight distance
- Left- and right-turn lanes into Big Horn Hills Estates entrances
- Tree clearing to reduce shade
- Road subsurface reconstruction and drainage improvements
In addition to the roadway improvements, Alternative 3 would include installation of an animal detection system throughout the 4-mile segment of U.S. 20. The system would alert drivers to the presence of animals. This alternative does not include crossing structures with wildlife fencing. Selecting Alternative 3 would require working with a vendor to install and then monitor and adapt the system over a period of several years to achieve a higher level of effectiveness. Monitoring would include evaluating the ability of the system to accurately detect animals, monitoring driver response, and monitoring road kill and crash data.