Frequently Asked Questions


Cooperating Agencies- A Cooperating Agency is any agency, other than the Lead Agency, that has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved in a proposed project or alternative.  A Federal Cooperating Agency may adopt, without recirculating, the environmental impact statement of a lead agency when, after an independent review of the statement, the Cooperating Agency concludes that its comments and suggestions have been satisfied.  This provision is particularly important to permitting agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who, as cooperating agencies, routinely adopt USDOT environmental documents.

CTB- The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) is an 18-member board appointed by the governor. CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. It is anticipated that the CTB will identify the Commonwealth’s Preferred Alternative for this study.

HRTAC- The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) manages the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund (HRTF) revenues for the Hampton Roads region. Comprised of locally elected officials, the commission is charged with determining how funding is invested in transportation projects.

HRTPO- The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) is the metropolitan planning organization for the Hampton Roads area.  It is responsible for planning and programming for the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Area. The HRTPO uses its long-range transportation plan and transportation improvement program to document the studies and projects that are funded in the region.

LEDPA- As required by the 404(b)(1) guidelines, USACE can only authorize the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) through its permit process. To be the LEDPA, an alternative must result in the least impact to aquatic resources while being practicable, which means it is available and capable of being done after taking into consideration cost, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes.  USACE makes these considerations in light of project purpose and it should also be noted that any consideration of the LEDPA prior to making a permit decision is only a preliminary assessment.  

NEPA- The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), requires Federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions.  Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations.

Operationally Independent Section (OIS) - An operationally independent section is a portion of the work described in the environmental document that can be built and function as a viable transportation facility even if the rest of the work described in the environmental document is never built. Environmental commitments associated with the phase of work to be built must be implemented as part of the project. Multiple contracts developed for bidding by the Owner for contract administration purposes or due to funding shortfalls are generally not considered to be operationally independent. See below under “Alternatives” for additional discussion.

Participating Agencies - Participating Agencies, as defined in 23 USC 139, are those Federal, State, tribal, regional, and local government agencies with an interest in the project.  Participating Agencies are identified and involved by the Lead Agency during the scoping process and are tasked with participating in the NEPA process, including the development of Purpose and Need, range of alternatives, and level of detail for analysis. 

Preferred Alternative- Refers to the alternative which the lead agency believes would best fulfill its statutory mission, as stated in the project Purpose and Need, with consideration to economic, environmental, technical and other factors. For this SEIS, FHWA and VDOT will work with the Cooperating Agencies to concur on a recommended Preferred Alternative. That recommendation will be presented to the CTB for the CTB to consider as it identifies the Commonwealth’s Preferred Alternative. Once CTB has identified its Preferred Alternative, and the Preferred Alternative is properly documented by the HRTPO, VDOT can request a Record of Decision (ROD) from FHWA identifying the Federal agency’s Preferred Alternative/selected action.   

ROD- Record of Decision, is the Federal action that completes the NEPA process. A ROD must be issued before VDOT can advance with design and construction. While FHWA issued a ROD on this study in 2001, the SEIS is re-evaluating the assumptions and decisions that led to that action. FHWA cannot issue a ROD until funding is identified for construction of an operationally independent section is identified in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization’s Constrained Long Range Plan and the next subsequent phase (i.e.; post-NEPA) is funded in the Transportation Improvement Program. Once addressed, a ROD can be issued and the project can proceed to the next phase.  

SEIS- A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is the document being prepared for this study, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and related regulations.  The SEIS will re-evaluate the 2001 Final EIS and ROD for the study. FHWA and VDOT have agreed that an SEIS is the appropriate NEPA document for the study, given the time that has lapsed since the FEIS was completed and due to the changes that have occurred in the study area during that time. There will be both a Draft and Final SEIS.