Because federal funds would be involved in the proposed project, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead agency and requires preparation of an environmental document to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires that federal agencies fully evaluate the proposed project’s impacts to the human and natural environment as well as provide opportunities for federal, state, and local agencies and the public to provide input during the development of the project. The environmental document identifies the purpose and need of the project, analyzes alternatives that may meet the purpose and need, and recommends a preferred alternative based on an impact analysis and public input.
Every effort will be made to minimize impacts to the human and natural environment during the development of the project. For this reason, potential impacts to wetlands, streams, farmlands, threatened and endangered species, floodplains, and archaeological or historical sites are evaluated as part of the NEPA process.
The project team will evaluate impacts to the human environment and ensure environmental justice (EJ), or fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the transportation decision making process. When minority and low-income populations (EJ communities) may be affected, SCDOT must determine whether there is a disproportionately high and adverse impact on the population. If impacts are anticipated, avoidance is considered first, and then minimization and mitigation of impacts.
The environmental documentation and public outreach began in 2020. A proactive public involvement process will be an integral component of the project. Input regarding the project's purpose and need, public outreach methods, alternatives development, and identification of a preferred alternative is welcomed.