322 Conchester Highway

Conchester Highway

Project Information

Environmental

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires projects involving a federal action to be evaluated for potential environmental impacts. The NEPA process was followed during the preliminary design/environmental studies stage of the project.

The environmental impacts for the project were identified in the Environmental Assessment (EA, revised April 2002) that was prepared in compliance with NEPA.  Although the detailed environmental analysis identified several types of impacts, none of the environmental impacts were considered substantial and the impact of the highway construction project upon the environment will be lessened or mitigated by proactively implementing steps in the initial phase of construction, Section MIT.

Environmental Profile

Within the project limits, U.S. 322 (Conchester Highway) impacts 17 streams (11 crossings and 6 lateral encroachments), none considered high quality fishing waters. Sixty wetlands areas were identified and delineated in the project area. Most of the wetlands are relatively small in size and many extend outside and beyond the limits of the U.S. 322 (Conchester Highway) project corridor. Historically, most of the wetlands in the area have been filled, graded, or otherwise disturbed as part of ongoing development. It is estimated that less than two acres of wetlands will be permanently impacted. Mitigation plans to minimize and compensate for unavoidable stream and wetland impacts were developed during final design as part of the waterways permitting process and are now being built.

Other notable environmental resources within the study area include floodplains, a population of a Pennsylvania Rare Plant Species, scattered clusters of residential and commercial development, pockets of adjacent agricultural lands, the county-operated Clayton Park Golf Course and Park (located in Concord and Bethel Townships), and seven historic properties considered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  All historic properties will be avoided and impacts to the county park will be mitigated using landscaping.

The findings of the Environment Assessment (EA) were presented to the public at two public meetings held in fall 2001. After receiving and addressing public comments regarding environmental issues associated with the preferred alternative, the EA was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for approval. On July 16, 2002, the FHWA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) indicating that the project has no significant environmental impacts thus permitting the project to continue with the preliminary design phase. The preliminary design was approved and Final Design activities began in 2003.

On June 1, 2011 the FHWA approved an Environmental Assessment Re-evaluation (Re-evaluation) for part of the project. This Re-evaluation addressed changes to Section 101 made during the final design process. Section 101 extends for approximately 3 miles from the US 1 intersection to a location in the vicinity of Clayton Park. Future changes to Section 102 that extends for approximately 3 ¾ miles from the Clayton Park area to just west of the bridge over the CSX Railroad will be addressed in a separate Re-evaluation. With the approval of the Section 101 Re-evaluation, FHWA has determined that the FONSI remains valid.