Public Comments and Responses

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Response Code Legend
A - Agriculture
AR/E - Alternative Routing/Engineering
CR - Cultural Resources
GC - General Comment
NR - Natural Resources
ROW - Right-of-Way
SER - Socioeconomic Resources
T - Traffic

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First Name Last Name Zip Code Comment
Jennifer Barber NULL Regarding the State College Area Connector Proposal/Planning and Environmental Linkage Study The highway using any of the proposed Harris Township routes despoiling the farmland, countryside and housing developments is unacceptable for the following reasons: First: Much of the research data being used to justify those routes through the township is a decade, if not more, old and inaccurate. Second: A State College nexus would bring heavy 18 wheel through truck traffic traversing a rapidly developing Harris Township and into a densely populated area mixing with local commercial, commuter and Penn State event traffic and, most troubling and dangerous, mixing with school buses. Third: A previous Federal Highway study showed that the Centre Region was not compliant with safe air quality standards and noise issues were also questionably noncompliant. Fourth: Many designs in the present SR 322 highway to be conjoined in Harris Township do not meet federal highway safety standards Conclusion: Moving traffic from SR 322 at Potters Mills directly to the interchange of I 99 and I 80 near Bellefonte creates a direct access route for trucks crossing the state in all directions as well as providing additional access to State College on I 99. By following the above route and assigning the present SR 322 to boulevard or business route status the plan alleviates the need for PADOT to destroy neighborhoods and developments, imperil attributes of unique natural resources in Harris Township and still meet the needs of the transportation industry. Therefore it is essential and imperative that residential and commercial data collection be redone and refreshed to reflect the current state of Harris Township development and evaluated to determine that a high speed interstate highway is neither safe nor feasible.
Response (11)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-1: The previously collected traffic and engineering data was re-evaluated and supplemented with updated information where needed and documented in the data refresh prior to the SCAC PEL Study. Residential and commercial development has also been updated on the base mapping to reflect current conditions (See GC-1 for more information). The purpose of the SCAC PEL Study is to develop and evaluate a range of alternatives to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and address safety. Any proposed alternative design will be developed in accordance with PennDOT design standards and specifications as outlined in various manuals approved by FHWA for the design speed, safety features, and other requirements for a transportation facility. PennDOT is committed to ensuring the safety to protect their employees, the traveling public, and their assets (e.g., roadways and bridges).
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
Custom Response: Based on coordination with FHWA staff, there was not studies or documentation determining that the Centre Region was not compliant with safe air quality and/or noise issues.
Ben Chicka NULL Are these meeting virtually available? Some sort of feed would be very useful to those of us who don't want to attend a public meeting during a global pandemic.
Response (1)
GC-2: The September 2021 public meetings were not publicly broadcast. These meetings were conducted in an open house format which is not conducive to broadcast format. All of the exhibits including public comment forms were released September 3, 2021 for virtual public review via the study website (www.penndot.gov/SCAC). Anyone that did not wish to attend the meeting in person was able to view the meeting materials on the study website and submit comments during the posted public comment period. A PennDOT representative’s name and contact information was also provided on the website for questions. In addition, formal advertisements for the meetings informed anyone that needed special accommodations to contact PennDOT. No such requests were received.
NULL Concerned Citizens of South Central County Pennsylvania NULL SUBJECT: EMERGENT INTERSTATE TRAFFIC CORRIDOR/CONNECTOR FROMPOTTERS MILLS, PENNSYLVANIA TO SOMEWHERE IN PENNSYLVANIA BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION The following comments and observations focus on a Pennsylvania DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) Study that apparently focuses upon attempts to justify a major four lane interstate like highway/CONNECTOR presently to the State College Area? For example, the Title/Name of the CONNECTOR/CORRIDOR has changed over the past months—including in the early 2000's when it was the SOUTH CENTRAL CENTRE COUNTY TRANSPORTATION STUDY referred to as SCCCTS) starting at Potters Mills, PA. The current changes in routes and names are just as confusing, e.g., corridor? Connector? 322 Connector? Now State College Connector?) The overall view of CCSCC members is that this study appears to be a divide and conquer strategy rather than a joint-cooperative effort. Understandably, citizens, new businesses, and local governments are confused as to the direction and intent of an obvious four lane--- truck traffic receptive-- interstate type 'connector' to I-99, I-80 SR 322, and/or ALL of these. Needless to state, there are multiple ground level theories developing to account for the label/name changes, out of date data, and over generalized criteria for the project and needs. analysis. The latter apparently justified by assertions of congestion (currently most congestion is caused by truck traffic) rather than verifiable facts including the use of approximately 10 year old documentation that represent a decade of business/commerce, farm and farm-related small businesses, and multiple dense residential development such as Liberty Hill, Discovery Drive and Rockey Ridge. PADOT USEFUL AND POSITIVE ACTIVITIES: Very informative and well organized PADOT activities have recently occurred, including their September 22 and 23 public meetings in Boalsburg PA describing their PEL Connector linkage study. The courteous and receptive presenters, visual aids/charts/descriptions, and detailed websites were appreciated by attendees. The charts/figures, presenter attitudes, and exhibits were excellent. PADOT is currently using the materials and approaches that are informative and make sense to create and pursue a positive atmosphere of cooperation. The information, references, were professional and the presenters knowledgeable and helpful. These and other actions such as demonstrating their software that could identify individual proprieties were well regarded. The overall tenor of the meetings was highly positive. A great beginning that could be a very productive, cooperative exchange between residents/citizens and PADOT. ADDITIONAL ISSUES RELATED TO THE PRESENTED DATA Yet, in contrast to the courtesy, knowledge, and cooperation of the meeting presenters, there was a paucity of relevant, updated factual, substantive data concerning local high density development and area environmental needs. For example, the significant effects of large truck traffic increases on congestion, large scale population growth, mixing with local traffic such as Penn State activities and significantly increased green house gases in this 'happy' valley were not discussed or analyzed sufficiently. This situation appears to require important updates to demographic, truck and auto emissions, factual projections (i.e., predicted population/immigration trends). There will definitely be more human population traffic mixing with vehicles to produce real congestion and greenhouse gases. This appears to be the 'global warming' for all of us. Prevention and mitigation will be more effective than retroactive hand wringing. There are many questions regarding the multiple name changes over the decade for an INTERSTATE-LIKE connector. Words like connector and corridor appear to be shifting and becoming subterfuges. For instance, the Titles/Names of the CONNECTOR/CORRIDOR/AREA/STATE COLLEGE, 322 have changed noticeably. These emphases thereby modify perceptions of PADOT'S motives/intentions that will differentially affect residences, businesses, farm/farm businesses and natural resources such as CEDAR RUN SPRINGS AND CREEK--locally an animal and aquatic refuge and contiguous several mile scenic waterway joining Mackey Run and on to Spring Creek. PRECEDENTS: Over the last decade it was the former INTERSTATE LIKE-- SOUTH CENTRAL CENTRE COUNTY TRANSPORTATION STUDY , SCCCTS that alerted residents that this area (South central Centre County) had become a target for a four lane highway. The 'area' then included Potters Mills, PA to what has become known as the university/Beaver Stadium INTERCHANGE. An obvious precursor was created by PADOT shifting it to THE APPALACHIAN THROUGHWAY ---originally routed from Bedford, PA to Milesburg, PA (Route 220)/I-80). Magically, the four-lane Interstate I-99-- even through a mountain of IRON PYRITE arrived at the present 'university/Beaver' stadium interchange. VOILA, a missing link for PADOT to attach to another four-lane interstate --a STUBBING FOUR-LANE at POTTERS MILLS, PA. Is it any wonder that citizens/residents in Centre County are suspicious and cynical? PRESENT ATTITUDES: Currently, this PEL study is being branded as another SCCCTS, however , with one additional important unfortunate interpretation. Now, there appears to be a veiled threat emanating from the state/PADOT that unlike the SCCCTS project, this misguided INTERSTATE connector is inappropriately renamed State College Area Connector. The emergent theory is that PEL is a subterfuge chimera that justifies increased 18 wheeler traffic THROUGH this Centre County KEYSTONE 'AREA.' The intent is to CONNECT with the rest of the country with the Northeast BOSTON/NEWYORK/WASHINGTON 'corridor.' The real need is presumed to be the midwest/south, and West transportation of shipping goods. That is, a political economic landfall for all of the economic interests that will benefit financially while the “keystone” in the STATES' KEYSTONE pays for a greenhouse gas and noise polluted environment for a peaceful, healthy valley to be polluted with noise, greenhouse gases, real mixed use congestion and carbon dioxide. All relevant aspects insufficiently or not at all studied. So far, no one has documented the environmental effects or has conceptualized the local health costs for this through interstate commerce that will primarily cost for the citizens and residents of a one-of a-kind peaceful, rural, farming crossroads-keystone. It is alarming to remember that PENNSYLVANIA (PENN'S WOODS) founders were the major representatives and founders—nine of whom signed THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE and eight who signed our CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. Surrendering this legacy to international and national financial/economic/political forces is saddening. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS The members of the CCSCC reserve the rights to further explore what the goals, strategies, means for determining our own future along with their costs, risks, and benefits. We seek to be realistic, logical, and cognizant of our legitimate duties, and rights. We feel that PADOT staff are highly educated, well organized, professional, and possess an abundance of data (much of it out of date and inaccurate) and relevant to the project. Furthermore, we believe that Pennsylvania, PADOT, and Centre County residents have the will and capabilities to cooperate in a joint effort. We also believe that our local and state locations are KEYSTONES. FROM: Anne B. and John M. Stevens; members of CONCERNED CITIZENS OF SOUTH CENTRAL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA (CCSCC-PENNSYLVANIA)
Response (12)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-14: In accordance with federal and state rules, regulations, and guidance, prior to advancing a single alternative for construction, the transportation development process must be followed. This process includes development and evaluation of a range of alternatives and the assessment of impacts and benefits for each alternative. This information is used by FHWA and PennDOT as a basis for making informed decisions on what transportation improvements to advance. Once an improvement is selected, final engineering design is necessary to refine the project-specific plans to identify right-of-way needs and be detailed enough to construct the project. When a project is ready for construction, PennDOT must follow and adhere to a prescriptive bid process that does not allow PennDOT to provide specific entities construction projects or portions of a construction project without going through the competitive bid process.
GC-3: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and in coordination with the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), is conducting this SCAC PEL Study. This SCAC PEL Study is a collaborative and integrated study approach to transportation planning that considers the environment, community, and local and regional economic goals early in the planning phase of transportation decision making. Planning decisions and outcomes will inform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process for the independent transportation project(s) identified during the PEL Study. This PEL Study will identify transportation problems and improvement solutions within a 70-square mile geographic area for planning purposes. This PEL Study will consider a range of transportation alternatives to address the various problems throughout the study area. The final PEL report will document all the study findings including the rationale for identifying what transportation projects to be advanced for further environmental and engineering investigations. As this PEL Study is looking at a broad geographic area, the study name was established by PennDOT to convey the general location of the study area and not a specific roadway termini or destination of any future transportation improvement project that will be proposed during the PEL Study.
GC-4: Studies for transportation improve­ments within and adjacent to the study area have been undertaken at various times since the 1970s. This includes PA 144 which received weight restrictions north of PA 45 in the late 1980s; numerous safety improvements along US 322 between 2006 and 2014; and the construction of US 322 to a four lane limited access highway from Seven Mountains to Potters Mills. The largest study to date was concluded in the late 1990s and early 2000s called the South Central Centre County Transportation Study (SCCCTS). The SCCCTS was a specific project that was undertaken to evaluate transportation improvements along the US 322, PA 144, and PA 45 corridors from the vicinity of the top of Seven Mountains in Potter Township, west to the Village of Boalsburg in Harris Township, and north to the Village of Pleasant Gap in Spring Township. The study was stopped in 2004 due to a statewide transportation funding shortfall. While there is overlap in transportation need and geography between the SCCCTS and SCAC, the SCAC PEL Study is utilized to look at a broader context relative to transportation issues and solutions within the study area. The results of the PEL Study will be used to identify multiple stand-alone transportation projects which include multiple corridors and other transportation modal needs such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-1: During the development of the SCAC PEL Study’s Purpose and Need Statement, it was noted that the employment and educational opportunities of the Pennsylvania State University, along with the relatively high quality of living standard, make Centre County (including the study area) attractive for development. Population within the study area is currently expected to have only nominal growth. Population and households had annual linear growth rates of 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively. Employment is expected to grow at a higher rate (2.0% per year), generating over 10,000 additional employment trips by 2050. The 2050 traffic volumes developed for this study reflect 2050 population and employment projections provided by the Centre County MPO. Recent development, including residential subdivisions and commercial and industrial sites, in the study area (i.e., Harris Township, located in the western portion of the study area) have been identified through secondary sources and select field reconnaissance, to update the study area mapping.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
T-3: Future year traffic volume forecasts for the study reflect what the CCMPO and municipalities in the region anticipate for future growth in population and employment demographics relative to current zoning and approved or anticipated development. (Growth and development are handled at the local level not controlled by PennDOT.)
Allan Darr NULL Here's some of my questions for the 322 meeting Sept 22-23. 1. Does PennDOT recognize that the new 322 alternatives 1-5 split several multi-generational family farms and properties? (Rimmey, Darlington, Smith) 2. Prior Penn Dot 2002 studies showed only one alternative south of 322 crossing Dogtown with 3 alternatives north of Dogtown Rd. a. What was the process and criteria for creating these new alternatives crossing Dogtown Rd? b. What was the process and criteria for eliminating the old alternatives north of Dogtown Rd? c. There were a number of old alternatives that merged with 144 or 45 to help alleviate some of their safety concerns. Were any of those options considered? Is so, what criteria eliminated them from your process? 3. How would property owners be compensated for properties split or significantly devalued by these alternatives? (for example, several options border my property and will destroy our pastoral views) 4. Much of your data indicates much better safety and other factors using some 144 options. Are those alternatives being seriously considered? 5 Is it true that PennDot had a recent meeting for local government officials and no officials from Potter Township showed up? 6. At that same meeting for the municipal officials, it also said that the 144 routes seem less desirable to Penn Dot because of the recent installation of the gas lines in that area. Is this true? How does that weigh against worse projected safety metrics for the 322 options?
Response (9)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-3: The Build Alternative corridors presented were developed, in part, from previous transportation studies conducted in the area. The Build Alternative corridors were evaluated for compliance with current design standards along with potential impacts to existing natural, cultural, and built environment. Some location modifications were necessary to avoid parks and minimize potential impacts on residential and business properties that were not present or as fully developed when the corridors were previously proposed. Adjustments to vertical grades, horizontal curvature and other parameters were also considered to reduce potential impacts, lessen depth of excavation or embankment, and better balance earthwork. In addition to reviewing previously developed alternatives, new corridor routes were investigated to determine if other alternatives could be designed and located with less disturbance or lessen the potential impact to critical features. Any Build Alternative corridor advanced must satisfy the project Purpose and Needs and comply with appropriate design speeds and other design specifications/requirements.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
AR/E-5: Each of the proposed Build Alternative corridors would impact the gas line that traverses the study area from the interchange at US 26 south to US 322. The PA 144 Build Alternatives would have a greater potential impact due to the proposed corridor paralleling the gas line and creating a long, longitudinal impact as opposed to the US 322 Build Alternatives which generally cross the gas line on a more perpendicular alignment.
GC-5: On August 31, 2021, a public officials meeting was held for area federal, state, county, and local representatives. Local representatives from Benner, College, Harris, Potter, and Spring townships and Centre Hall Borough were specifically invited to attend. A copy of the sign-in sheet from that meeting is included in Appendix D of the Open House Public Meeting Summary Report.
ROW 4: When appraising properties under the Eminent Domain Code in Pennsylvania, any market value increases or decreases due to general knowledge of a future transportation project are not considered in the Before Value (e.g., fair market value) of the property being acquired. In other words, the Before Value is the property’s fair market value if the project was not being implemented. Any increase or decrease in market value due to property acquisition is considered in the After Value (e.g., property value following implementation of the transportation project) of the property and compensation and/or damages paid following negotiations, accordingly. Additionally, perceived project damages or benefits attributed to the whole community are not considered in the After Value nor to other properties without acquisitions in the community. Essentially, PennDOT is not allowed to reimburse for an assumed decrease in property value (e.g., damages) for any property that is not directly acquired by the project. Community impacts related to viewshed and noise concerns are assessed and mitigated through means other than financial compensation
ROW 5: Depreciation will be considered by the appraiser for each property. All owners being relocated will be assigned a relocation specialist who will help throughout the process. This includes a pre-acquisition survey being completed to consider their needs and wishes for a replacement dwelling. During this pre-acquisition meeting the relocation specialist also reviews with each relocate all the Benefits for which they would qualify.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
Kathy & Fred DiMuccio NULL We are writing to express our concerns about the State College Connector project. I grew up in State College, left the area for 11 years during my twenties and returned in 1990. My husband Fred and I raised our girls on Kennard Rd (just at the border of Boalsburg and State College). We could not attend the open house meetings held yesterday and today, since we are in Savannah GA. A friend shared the map and the options with us. There appear to be 5 options that PennDot is considering. We understand that you are in phase 3 of a 7 phase project and construction is slated to begin 2028 and projected to be completed by 2033. As we look at that map of the beautiful Boalsburg valley, we implore you to see how options 1, 2, or 3 would completely rip through it. It would destroy it's beauty. If you must select an option as shared with us, we ask that you please consider option 5 as the best. It is the one that links up the most quickly with the existing 322. Option 4 would destroy Tussey Mountain Ski Area. We understand that transportation and highway progress is very important for safety and growth. We ask you to consider the options that have the least impact on the land and the farms, and the least impact on the people who will be disrupted through the process. Please don't run that highway through the beautiful valley of Boalsburg!
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-9: The SCAC PEL Study process encompasses seven different phases. The SCAC PEL is currently in phase 4 (Screen Alternatives and Determine Impacts). The SCAC PEL schedule currently calls for completion in the summer of 2022 which may extend into the fall in order to receive the Federal Highway Administration’s approval to advance to preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigation. At that time, the alternative options to be advanced will be made publicly known. The boards from the public meeting “State College Area Connector PEL Process” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/05_SCAC_PEL-Process-Timeline-Board.pdf) and “What is the Process for Advancing Transportation Projects?” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/03_Transportation-Process-Board.pdf) provide more information about the overall transportation project timelines and the PEL process as well.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
NULL Farr Harristown Parks & Rec NULL The Harristown Park and Recreation Committee is concerned that your mapping does not reflect the addition of a unique park to our township; a park that has enriched the township residents lives. The park was given to the township as a fee in lieu from the developer of the Gates Community. The park is unique because it has a lovely pond, the only park with a pond in the Centre Region Parks and Recreation authority. Harris Township hired JMT to develop a master plan which included a fishing pier with adaptations for handicapped people, a boardwalk, an interpretive playground, trail connection with the top of the mountain, etc. The Tussey Pond Park is situated adjacent to Calvary Baptist Church and off Discovery Drive, all of which will be wiped out by the US 322-4 corridor alternative.
Response (3)
SER-2: The Tussey Pond Park master plan was obtained and reviewed. The park is included on the revised project mapping (https://terracon.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=e41bc8fe87ba4903bbc4c10a17283269). This resource will be provided the same status which is afforded to all publicly owned parkland by Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966, as amended.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
NULL Harris Township NULL Written by Tom Zurat: Please consider other modes of transportation when developing alignments. Ped/bike option through the valley are limits and the existing route is unsafe. The Township master plan is being updated to reflect potential bike/ped connections.
Response (1)
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NULL Immel NULL I'm following up from my husband Michael's phone call with you this morning regarding our farm at 227 Nittany Meadow Farm Lane in Harris Township. As he noted, our farm is not marked with the Clean & Green designation on the interactive map. In addition, PDF version of the agricultural map still does not show our property in the ASA. We would appreciate it if these could be updated.
Response (2)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
Custom Response: Mr. Immel was contacted, via phone, to inform him the project mapping would be updated as requested after confirmation with Centre County.
Mike Keil NULL My comment includes harvest field, Calvary church, Rothrock state park, Boalsburg, tussey ski area - rt 322 corridor. Do not consider alignment #4 through the 322 corridor- it would be extremely disruptive to existing community gathering areas, businesses, long-standing (often historic) residential areas. This would introduce noise and light pollution adjacent to and intersecting with Rothrock state park, a treasure of the local community 322 between potters mills/tusseyville and Boalsburg currently allows bypass to route 80 without this disruption, why plan an extension or widening that interferes with existing homes and businesses when several alternatives exist that allow increased volume with far less disruption? I assume improvement is intended to improve traffic flow, an economic advantage to PA State, but with plan #4, this comes at a substantial cost to the economy of the local community- please do NOT consider this particular plan
Response (9)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
Tyler Kulp NULL Tait Farm is an important part of the Centre County Landscape. Please do not cut it up for this highway plan. My family has so many fond memories of visiting the farm year after year for Christmas trees, plants from their greenhouse and their delicious organic produce and specialty food products. Thank you for your time.
Response (2)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Craig Miller NULL My name is Craig. I am currently a resident of Boalsburg who drives on 322 every day. I also work at tussey mountain, drive on bear meadows road 4+ times per week to enter Rothrock state forest, and having grown up on a farm I can understand the impact of this project to local land owners. Just to say, I support 322-1 the most, as long as it allows for entrance into tussey mountain. This route appears to have the least amount of impact on the surrounding houses and land because it uses the most amount of the existing highway.
Response (3)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
Dan Nold NULL Dear Mr. Ball, Mr. Murnyack, and Ms. Fannin, I am emailing you concerning the SCAC Pel Study. I'm the lead pastor of Calvary, which would be impacted more or less significantly by at least three of the proposed alignments. I am disappointed that even though it appears that there have been multiple meetings, I had no idea that this project/study had been revived until late last week through an email from Amy Farkas, and neither did a number of people who would be affected similarly. In any case, if it would be possible to get some information I have some questions to help the interested parties that I know get involved as best we can. 1. The public meetings scheduled for Sept 22/23 have a stated beginning and ending time of 1pm-8pm. Is this one meeting that will go continuously from 1-8 or more of an open house that people can drop in and leave when they have accomplished what they needed to accomplish? 2. The website also states that there is a virtual meeting in September, when is that? Will the same info and opportunity for questions be given then? 3. Can you give me a sense of the timing and process of this decision? Is this closer to the last opportunity for public input or closer to the first opportunity? 4. Following up on #3, when is a decision expected to be made?
Response (5)
GC-2: The September 2021 public meetings were not publicly broadcast. These meetings were conducted in an open house format which is not conducive to broadcast format. All of the exhibits including public comment forms were released September 3, 2021 for virtual public review via the study website (www.penndot.gov/SCAC). Anyone that did not wish to attend the meeting in person was able to view the meeting materials on the study website and submit comments during the posted public comment period. A PennDOT representative’s name and contact information was also provided on the website for questions. In addition, formal advertisements for the meetings informed anyone that needed special accommodations to contact PennDOT. No such requests were received.
GC-8: The SCAC PEL Study started in February of 2020. Since that time, PennDOT representatives have attended various Township/Borough meetings and developed a study website to keep the public informed. Additionally, PennDOT has presented numerous times at various CCMPO meetings since early 2020, which were broadcast publicly and included representatives from various municipalities. In October/November of 2020, a virtual public meeting was held to discuss the scope, purpose, and need of the study. The virtual meeting notification process was accomplished by publishing multiple advertisements in the Centre Daily Times and the Lewistown Sentinel, posting flyers at area convenience stores, grocery stores, and other public gathering areas in the 70-square mile study area, and social media outreach (Facebook and Twitter). In addition, the local communities were asked to forward the meeting announcement to their interested citizens and place a link to the advertisement on their individual websites. 
GC-9: The SCAC PEL Study process encompasses seven different phases. The SCAC PEL is currently in phase 4 (Screen Alternatives and Determine Impacts). The SCAC PEL schedule currently calls for completion in the summer of 2022 which may extend into the fall in order to receive the Federal Highway Administration’s approval to advance to preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigation. At that time, the alternative options to be advanced will be made publicly known. The boards from the public meeting “State College Area Connector PEL Process” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/05_SCAC_PEL-Process-Timeline-Board.pdf) and “What is the Process for Advancing Transportation Projects?” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/03_Transportation-Process-Board.pdf) provide more information about the overall transportation project timelines and the PEL process as well.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Custom Response: To address Mr. Nold concerns regarding the time and such of the September2021 meetings, Mr. Dean Ball, PennDOT Assistance District Engineer, contacted him via email on 9/8/2021 and 9/10/2021.
Dan Nold NULL Thank you for the added information, Mr. Ball. I appreciate all you have done to keep the public informed and I appreciate that your job is not an easy one. I guess, I'm just saying that maybe PennDot could reflect on the possibility of more direct contacts with those who would be greatly impacted by proposed alignments. I consider myself and Calvary fairly well connected in the community and we have 2000+ people connected to our church, but I had no idea until last week that this study was underway. In any case, thank you for your information. We will be sure to get it out to more who would like to know about it.
Response (2)
GC-10: Direct notification regarding new information on the study website including notices of future public engagement opportunities will be conducted via an email notification. Throughout the SCAC PEL Study, the public has joined the notification database by visiting the study website and joining directly or by signing in at one of the public meetings and providing an email address. It is anticipated that as the alternatives are refined and engineering conducted, direct outreach in the form of letters to potentially affected property owners may be conducted.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Anna Rupprecht NULL We purchased our home summer of 2020, and are truly blessed by the supportive neighbors we have at Laurel Meadow Lane HOA as well as the unparalleled beauty of the rolling hills and pastoral views filled with gorgeous foliage and curious wildlife this time of year. As relatively new homeowners in the affected area, we felt it imperative to weigh in on how this proposal greatly affects our home and property and that of our entire community. An expansion to the existing 322 corridor would likely curtail our property and force the removal or transfer of fencing along our property line and our neighbors’, which has remained in place since the establishment of the HOA in 1997. We also have a young daughter, as many along the roadway do, and are concerned that an expansion into private property as proposed by adding a few more lanes to the existing 322 route would negatively affect the movement of wildlife as well as the peace of families at play. Surely, proposals 322-4 (Ridgeside 1) would serve our community well, preserve the untouched, sprawling property we own that supports abundant native wildlife, and still provide ease of transit for 322 commuters and travelers. Our concern lies not just with how certain construction options will impact our own property and the immediate community, but nearby small businesses as well (businesses that reside directly on the current 322). Kuhn’s Tree Farm and Tait’s Harvest Shop and Farm are two small businesses that are mainstays of this pocket of Centre Hall and Boalsburg area and treasured stops for many who travel on 322. Any expansion to the current 322 roadway would negatively impact their productive farmland, historic barn (Kuhn’s), and charming farm shop (Tait’s). We worry for the vitality of their business, as well as the integrity and productivity of their crops and greenhouses with proposed options that affect widening the existing road. We understand that the proposals put forth consider cost, environmental effect, private property, and business property and assets. Respectfully, we strongly believe that 322-4(Ridgeside 1) is the least disruptive and intrusive proposal that would preserve the beauty, integrity, and vitality of the Laurel Meadow Lane HOA, neighboring farmland, and nearby businesses such as Kuhn’s Tree Farm and Tait’s Farm Shop and Greenhouse. The data presented at the in-person September 2021 meeting clearly shows that the 322-4(Ridgeside 1) alternative is the least obtrusive to the community. We believe this should strongly be considered. Thank you for the consideration of community input, and we look forward to the resolution.
Response (6)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
NR-7: PennDOT’s environmental review process includes consideration of wildlife and their habitats. Field surveys to complete wildlife habitat assessments will be completed as part of the detailed NEPA studies. These efforts may also include species presence/absence surveys. Impacts to wildlife habitat will not only consider habitat loss but also potential fragmentation. It is recognized that habitat fragmentation results in smaller unconnected areas that can reduce the quality of the remaining habitat and wildlife movement. In particular, a new highway on new alignment may create a barrier that not only removes and fragments habitat within the roadway’s limits of disturbance but may also cut off natural wildlife corridors. This in turn can present an obstacle that leads to vehicle/wildlife collisions. Fragmentation can also encourage the expansion of non-native species and predation. Some wildlife species, including neotropical migrant bird species, are highly dependent on what is referred to as interior forests to thrive. The SCAC PEL Study initiated coordination with federal and state resource agencies and that coordination will continue during the next phase of detailed studies. Of special note is the response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated February 17, 2021) that identified potential concerns with migratory bird species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Efforts will be made to design proposed transportation improvements to minimize habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition, mitigation measures will be considered during design to reduce adverse effects. These could include incorporating wildlife crossing/corridors in the roadway design to allow wildlife to travel between existing viable habitats. Wildlife crossings that may be considered are vegetated bridges or tunnels or oversized stream culverts that include a dry pathway parallel to the stream channel. These measures would not only promote safe passage for wildlife but would also reduce the potential for vehicle/wildlife collisions that makes the roadway safer for the travelling public. It is anticipated that impacts to wildlife habitats will require compensatory mitigation. This mitigation can be in the form of land acquisition for habitat preservation and/or restoration of disturbed lands to a natural state.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Doug Smith NULL Hi, I strongly prefer the 144 Build alternatives (any of the three paths). This route could take traffic out of Phillipsburg and other cut-through areas and still serve State College. The 144 alternative also shows the best safety improvements overall, with the main exception of 322. I suggest constructing the new 144 Build alternative in conjunction with cheaper safety improvements on 322, such as traffic calming to encourage slower speeds and the use of the new roadway instead, especially by trucks. This could include rumble strips when entering from the expressway on either side, roundabouts, narrower lanes, speed flashers, the painted dots that show proper following distance, and a few new or longer turn lanes where needed. Thank you!
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
Anne Stevens NULL Regarding the State College Area Connector Proposal/Planning and Environmental Linkage Study The highway using any of the proposed Harris Township routes despoiling the farmland, countryside and housing developments is unacceptable for the following reasons: First: Much of the research data being used to justify those routes through the township is a decade, if not more, old and inaccurate. Second: A State College nexus would bring heavy 18 wheel through truck traffic traversing a rapidly developing Harris Township and into a densely populated area mixing with local commercial, commuter and Penn State event traffic and, most troubling and dangerous, mixing with school buses. Third: A previous Federal Highway study showed that the Centre Region was not compliant with safe air quality standards and noise issues were also questionably noncompliant. Fourth: Many designs in the present SR 322 highway to be conjoined in Harris Township do not meet federal highway safety standards Conclusion: Moving traffic from SR 322 at Potters Mills directly to the interchange of I 99 and I 80 near Bellefonte creates a direct access route for trucks crossing the state in all directions as well as providing additional access to State College on I 99. By following the above route and assigning the present SR 322 to boulevard or business route status the plan alleviates the need for PADOT to destroy neighborhoods and developments, imperil attributes of unique natural resources in Harris Township and still meet the needs of the transportation industry. Therefore it is essential and imperative that residential and commercial data collection be redone and refreshed to reflect the current state of Harris Township development and evaluated to determine that a high speed interstate highway is neither safe nor feasible.
Response (12)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-1: The previously collected traffic and engineering data was re-evaluated and supplemented with updated information where needed and documented in the data refresh prior to the SCAC PEL Study. Residential and commercial development has also been updated on the base mapping to reflect current conditions (See GC-1 for more information). The purpose of the SCAC PEL Study is to develop and evaluate a range of alternatives to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and address safety. Any proposed alternative design will be developed in accordance with PennDOT design standards and specifications as outlined in various manuals approved by FHWA for the design speed, safety features, and other requirements for a transportation facility. PennDOT is committed to ensuring the safety to protect their employees, the traveling public, and their assets (e.g., roadways and bridges).
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
Michael Swanson NULL I'm a resident of Boalsburg, Pa, and an avid rider of both the Harvest Fields Community Trails and Rothrock State Forrest trails. I recently came across a map of proposed connectors for the US322 alternate corridors and am writing to ask you to reconsider those plans. From the map, it seems that a number of the proposed corridors would run directly through the Harvest Fields Community Trails and Rothrock State Forrest trails (both of which continue to be developed and are a significant draw for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor adventurers alike). I'm asking that the plans for the project to prioritize transportation issues be reconsidered if it requires the halting of development of both areas. There is a strong community built around outdoor recreation in State College, and from the plans which have been released, it would be difficult to imagine how the proposed corridors could exist without significantly altering a draw for the community at large, as well as a significant chunk of a State Forest.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Timothy Sweet NULL I kindly ask you not to choose a highway realignment that leads to our church (Calvary Harvest Fields) being relocated. Thank you for doing your best to find an alignment that does not affect Calvary. Sincerely, Tim
Response (2)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Janet Teeple NULL Please do not consider Alignment #4 through the 322 corridor as an alternative for the connector to interstate 80. Alignment #4 will be detrimental to our home and the only area we’re able to take walks on sidewalks from our house. Please please reconsider this. So many people enjoy this area and it draws many for safe recreational activities. It’s what makes this area our community. Not only Alignment #4 be detrimental to nearby church, Calvary Harvest Fields, it will also significantly impact a growing community gathering space. With hundreds of thousands of community dollars already invested in biking and hiking trails, disc golf, a park, ball fields, and other public use spaces, this 100 acre plot is more than just a church, it is a community space. Alignment #4 will impact the Tussey mountain area and the public use of Rothrock State Forest. Alignment #4 will impact businesses and Harris Township significantly. Alignment #4 will be costly to the community and PennDot because of the value of the space. We respectfully submit that the alignments which follow the 144 corridor will impact the least amount of homes, business and people. It is Alignment #4 that will close Calvary Harvest Fields, but again we suggest that the 144 routes will impact the least number of people, homes and businesses.
Response (7)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
ROW 4: When appraising properties under the Eminent Domain Code in Pennsylvania, any market value increases or decreases due to general knowledge of a future transportation project are not considered in the Before Value (e.g., fair market value) of the property being acquired. In other words, the Before Value is the property’s fair market value if the project was not being implemented. Any increase or decrease in market value due to property acquisition is considered in the After Value (e.g., property value following implementation of the transportation project) of the property and compensation and/or damages paid following negotiations, accordingly. Additionally, perceived project damages or benefits attributed to the whole community are not considered in the After Value nor to other properties without acquisitions in the community. Essentially, PennDOT is not allowed to reimburse for an assumed decrease in property value (e.g., damages) for any property that is not directly acquired by the project. Community impacts related to viewshed and noise concerns are assessed and mitigated through means other than financial compensation
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Jason VanScyoc NULL I'm a resident in the general area of the State College Connector project. The idea of solving the traffic issues on 322 and 144 sounds great, but I think there is a better idea than what has been proposed. In consideration of the traffic on 144 and 322, I personally note that the majority of the traffic travels on 322 rather than 144. It may be true that some of the traffic wants to get to I-99 or I-80, but the route they take depends on if they are headed east or west. If the new highway is routed alongside 144, then that will only solve the issue of traffic traveling east, and if the new highway is placed along 322, then the traffic that wants to travel east will still take 144 - the other way is too far out of the way. Also, focusing on just traffic that wants to go to I-99 or I-80 neglects a lot of traffic that is simply traveling to State College. Why not place the new highway in between the current proposals? I've attached an image below about what I'm thinking. The route I drew would allow any traffic going to I-99 or I-80 to easily get there, and it would be the ideal route to take regardless of if they are traveling east or west. Additionally, for anybody that does want to travel to State College, if they are going anywhere in the northern part of State College, the route I propose would be ideal. If they want to travel to Boalsburg, or the southern part of State College, they would travel along the old 322. This would cut the traffic along the old 322 at least in half, and it would also greatly reduce the traffic on 144. The new road proposal would also place an interchange on 26, which makes it easy to arrive at the many shopping places near that area. It looks like the placement of my proposal wouldn't be that difficult to do, as it is traveling along side the mountain, and cuts in between a gap. It also looks like it would have minimal impact on existing structure.
Response (1)
Custom Response: Thank you for your comment. A preliminary evaluation of your proposed corridor was conducted. From an environmental perspective an alternative in this location was not developed as it would: • have the highest forest land impact and would create a new fragmentation of the Nittany Mountain forested area in a region that is relatively undisturbed. • extend in between known bat caves (approximately 1.2 miles from Rockview Cave and 1.8 miles from the J-4 cave). • extend almost entirely through the Rockview State Correctional Institute property and through the associated National Register boundary of the NRHP-eligible Rockview SCI Historic District (as currently defined) • extend through the natural gap created by Logan Branch (McBride Gap), it will extend through the Logan Branch headwaters and encroach into the vicinity of the State Correctional Institutes (SCI’s) reservoir that serves as a water supply for the SCI (note, this reservoir is at a very high elevation with an undeveloped forested watershed that is within SCI property for protection and the SCI water supply system seems to have been integrated with the Benner Township Water Authority’s system that uses groundwater wells). The PFBC has identified Logan Branch as the largest tributary to Spring Creek , accounting for about 1/3 of the total flow. • pose potential safety concerns relating to the crossing of the active prison property. From an engineering perspective, an interchange along I-99 in the identified location would not be possible as the existing Shiloh Road interchange is less than 1-mile (0.6 miles) away from the identified location. Shifting the interchange further north would cause the roadway to encroach on the Rockview State Correctional Institute property and buildings.
Tonya Yerty NULL I'm sure all of the options have their pros and cons but I would like to voice my discontent with any of the options that would affect the Calvary hiking/biking Community areas (322 option 4) or significantly affect Rothrock. These areas are important to the community and cannot reasonably be replace or relocated. Thank you for your consideration.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Ted Bukowski NULL Apparently there are many more wetlands than you are depicting in your poster boards for the SR 322 alignments, not to mention, the headwaters of Spring Creek, a premier trout stream. The ridge alignments include migratory bird habitat (forest interior birds), and placing alignments up over the mountain will fragment otherwise contiguous forest habitat. Birds are now once again protected by the migratory bird treaty act. There is also bat habitat nearby......and some of that forest habitat may be roosting or foraging habitat. Some of those bats using that habitat are state listed, and federally listed species under the endangered species act. Please re-consider just leaving SR 322 where it is, so not to destroy fish and wildlife habitat....one of the amenities to this community, put struggling businesses out of business, or displace people......... pretty quick process to go from basically 7 alternatives down to two build only alternatives in less than 60 days, eh? Do the right thing here..... not the easier softer way.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-5: The bat habitat identified for the 70-square mile study area includes the potential extent of the bat summer roost/maternity habitat and fall swarming habitat for the protected Indiana and northern long-eared bats, and known winter bat colony habitats (i.e., bat caves, which include a minimum of three sites present within or adjacent to the study area). The summer roost/maternity habitat describes the area in which bats may spend the months feeding and giving birth to pups. Fall swarming habitat describes the habitat close to their winter hibernacula prior to entering the hibernacula for the winter months. Potential summer roost and fall swarming habitat is present in the study area and the mapping depicts the “buffers” surrounding the three known bat hibernacula based on parameters provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Services and the PA Game Commission. These buffers encompass the majority of the study area; however, given the location of the three known bat caves, the Tussey Mountain region did not fall within these buffers for these protected bat hibernacula. It is recognized that bats of various species would use the wooded areas of Tussey Mountain as summer roost habitat, including possibly protected bat species. The planning study also identified various wildlife habitat features, including bat habitat, such as active/inactive quarries, natural karst features (potential bat hibernacula), and forest land (potential roosting habitat) throughout the study area. The information compiled for the planning study is intended to be used to identify areas of sensitive natural resources within the study area, including the extent of potential habitat for protected bat species. It is anticipated that additional agency coordination and field surveys will be required for any future transportation project studies, that may include surveys for threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species such as protected bat species.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
NR-7: PennDOT’s environmental review process includes consideration of wildlife and their habitats. Field surveys to complete wildlife habitat assessments will be completed as part of the detailed NEPA studies. These efforts may also include species presence/absence surveys. Impacts to wildlife habitat will not only consider habitat loss but also potential fragmentation. It is recognized that habitat fragmentation results in smaller unconnected areas that can reduce the quality of the remaining habitat and wildlife movement. In particular, a new highway on new alignment may create a barrier that not only removes and fragments habitat within the roadway’s limits of disturbance but may also cut off natural wildlife corridors. This in turn can present an obstacle that leads to vehicle/wildlife collisions. Fragmentation can also encourage the expansion of non-native species and predation. Some wildlife species, including neotropical migrant bird species, are highly dependent on what is referred to as interior forests to thrive. The SCAC PEL Study initiated coordination with federal and state resource agencies and that coordination will continue during the next phase of detailed studies. Of special note is the response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated February 17, 2021) that identified potential concerns with migratory bird species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Efforts will be made to design proposed transportation improvements to minimize habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition, mitigation measures will be considered during design to reduce adverse effects. These could include incorporating wildlife crossing/corridors in the roadway design to allow wildlife to travel between existing viable habitats. Wildlife crossings that may be considered are vegetated bridges or tunnels or oversized stream culverts that include a dry pathway parallel to the stream channel. These measures would not only promote safe passage for wildlife but would also reduce the potential for vehicle/wildlife collisions that makes the roadway safer for the travelling public. It is anticipated that impacts to wildlife habitats will require compensatory mitigation. This mitigation can be in the form of land acquisition for habitat preservation and/or restoration of disturbed lands to a natural state.
Amanda Barry 15218 My husband and I had been planning to relocate to the State College area for the past few years, specifically Harris Township. The primary draw to the area is the access to Rothrock State Forest. We had been actively pursuing real estate in the area until learning of the possible 322 reroutes. We've decided to stop pursuing options until after we learn the fate of the area. The area would no longer be appealing as a residential location if a major 4 lane highway passes through it. It's very unfortunate that you are considering adding additional lanes to a road that is so close to the forest. You should consider the impact that highway noise and traffic will have on that pristine area. Any new road projects should be designed to decrease traffic through the area, not increase it, and divert it to the primary highways. Additionally, the areas surrounding the 322 corridor need better bicycle and pedestrian access to the forest. The Galbraith Gap access point is very popular and nearby residents should be able to access that without risking their lives biking/walking on nearby roads, mainly 322.
Response (4)
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
GC-9: The SCAC PEL Study process encompasses seven different phases. The SCAC PEL is currently in phase 4 (Screen Alternatives and Determine Impacts). The SCAC PEL schedule currently calls for completion in the summer of 2022 which may extend into the fall in order to receive the Federal Highway Administration’s approval to advance to preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigation. At that time, the alternative options to be advanced will be made publicly known. The boards from the public meeting “State College Area Connector PEL Process” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/05_SCAC_PEL-Process-Timeline-Board.pdf) and “What is the Process for Advancing Transportation Projects?” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/03_Transportation-Process-Board.pdf) provide more information about the overall transportation project timelines and the PEL process as well.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
Cheryl Latten 16652 I would like to express my support for not building the new road through Harvest Fields. Although I am not a member of Calvary Baptist, or even a resident of State College, I have spent many summer days at Harvest Fields. I know many people from my community who go there to play disc golf. It would impact the recreation of many people if it were taken away.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Mike and Melissa Rubano 16669 Proposed routes 322-4 and 322-5 are unacceptable as they will negatively impact the Tussey Mountain and Rothrock State Forest areas. The Tussey Mtn. area is a major gateway to Rothrock, which has become a mecca for outdoor activities. The ski area hosts outdoor concerts that are very popular and well attended. It is difficult to imagine an outdoor concert with a 4-lane highway as the back group. Although the Route 144 proposed routes must navigate over Nittany Mountain, this would keep heavy truck traffic away from State College.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Bruce Lingle 16686 1. Environmental concerns: Any modification to 322 would increase greenhouse emissions. New connection between 322 and 80 needs to be as direct as possible. The routes within Potter Township along route 144 provides a more direct connection to interstate 80, generating less greenhouse gas from trucks and cars traveling through our region. 2. Conservation and additional environmental concerns: The headwaters of both Cedar Creek and Spring Creek lie within the areas designated as potential route 322 modifications (around the Boalsburg area). Construction of the State College Connector in this area would be disruptive to those headwaters. Option 322-3 specifically impacts protected Shemp family wetlands and farmlands 3. Congestion: Route 322 is already a busy commuter road and will only become more congested as the State College area continues to grow. Co-mingling local commuter traffic and truck traffic destined for I-80 would significantly increase through traffic and would prove dangerous, not only now but in the future. 4. Disruption to homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods: All the proposed routes along 322 (322-1, 322-2, 322-3, 322-4 and 322-5) would be especially disruptive to the region and especially the Boalsburg community. Homes would be taken, neighborhoods divided, and communities destroyed. 5. Safety: The impact to the local community during football weekends and Penn State events is unimaginable. 322 and the adjoining roads are used not only by our local commuters but also by school buses carrying our children. Truck through traffic should be diverted away from residential neighborhoods as much as possible. 6. Business 322: lt is more reasonable to establish the current route 322 as a business route 322 and have the new connector go along one of the proposed Potter township routes (144). This option would allow our local businesses to continue to prosper. Born and raised on the farm. Worked hard to get it to look so good.
Response (13)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-7: Impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). While the US 322 corridor includes many residential developments and plans for future developments, PennDOT also recognizes the rural nature of both the US 322 and the PA 144 corridors which include more dispersed rural communities relying on an agriculture economy and the viability of farm operations. Community impacts, including impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and known archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to all valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Laura Lingle 16686 1. Environmental concerns: Any modification to 322 would increase greenhouse emissions. New connection between 322 and 80 needs to be as direct as possible. The routes within Potter Township along route 144 provides a more direct connection to interstate 80, generating less greenhouse gas from trucks and cars traveling through our region. 2. Conservation and additional environmental concerns: The headwaters of both Cedar Creek and Spring Creek lie within the areas designated as potential route 322 modifications (around the Boalsburg area). Construction of the State College Connector in this area would be disruptive to those headwaters. Option 322-3 specifically impacts protected Shemp family wetlands and farmlands 3. Congestion: Route 322 is already a busy commuter road and will only become more congested as the State College area continues to grow. Co-mingling local commuter traffic and truck traffic destined for I-80 would significantly increase through traffic and would prove dangerous, not only now but in the future. 4. Disruption to homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods: All the proposed routes along 322 (322-1, 322-2, 322-3, 322-4 and 322-5) would be especially disruptive to the region and especially the Boalsburg community. Homes would be taken, neighborhoods divided, and communities destroyed. 5. Safety: The impact to the local community during football weekends and Penn State events is unimaginable. 322 and the adjoining roads are used not only by our local commuters but also by school buses carrying our children. Truck through traffic should be diverted away from residential neighborhoods as much as possible. 6. Business 322: lt is more reasonable to establish the current route 322 as a business route 322 and have the new connector go along one of the proposed Potter township routes (144). This option would allow our local businesses to continue to prosper. The farm is the home of my in-laws.
Response (13)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-7: Impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). While the US 322 corridor includes many residential developments and plans for future developments, PennDOT also recognizes the rural nature of both the US 322 and the PA 144 corridors which include more dispersed rural communities relying on an agriculture economy and the viability of farm operations. Community impacts, including impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and known archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to all valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Sandra Adams 16801 After a great deal of study online and at this open house I find the most logical route I-80 is the 144 exchange - it goes through sparsely populated farmland therefore disturbing a minimal amount of homes and lives. As a local realtor I can state that using the 322 route will dislocate a plethora of families - many of which would be unable to find similar housing due to the high end homes and the small amount of homes of the same quality available. I would be happy to discuss our local market and the implications involved emotionally and financially to having a major highway run 51 + feet from a property. I hope you read and consider my thoughts!
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
ROW 1: Acquisition costs and anticipated impacts to properties are only a few of the many factors that are considered in future studies when identifying a preferred alternative.
ROW 2: Typically projects with numerous acquisitions required are completed in different phases spread out over the course of time. This will hopefully help to spread out the relocations to reduce the impact to the available housing market.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Diane K. Bierly 16801 Interesting presentation of materials. Seems most practical to connect Potters Mills four-lane part of Rt. 322 to Boalsburg part, staying as close to existing Rt. 322 - seems that is what was intended when State College Bypass was designed and built in the 1970s. Routes that loop around to Oak Hall and to Pleasant Gap look to be expensive and not necessarily take motorists to their destinations. I would prefer an option (like Rt 322-1) that closely follows existing Rt. 322 with minimal disruption to existing communities. I would be OK with a major upgrade of existing Rt. 322 as a short term solution, but this seems to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. This should have been built and resolved in the 1970s.
Response (4)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-4: Studies for transportation improve­ments within and adjacent to the study area have been undertaken at various times since the 1970s. This includes PA 144 which received weight restrictions north of PA 45 in the late 1980s; numerous safety improvements along US 322 between 2006 and 2014; and the construction of US 322 to a four lane limited access highway from Seven Mountains to Potters Mills. The largest study to date was concluded in the late 1990s and early 2000s called the South Central Centre County Transportation Study (SCCCTS). The SCCCTS was a specific project that was undertaken to evaluate transportation improvements along the US 322, PA 144, and PA 45 corridors from the vicinity of the top of Seven Mountains in Potter Township, west to the Village of Boalsburg in Harris Township, and north to the Village of Pleasant Gap in Spring Township. The study was stopped in 2004 due to a statewide transportation funding shortfall. While there is overlap in transportation need and geography between the SCCCTS and SCAC, the SCAC PEL Study is utilized to look at a broader context relative to transportation issues and solutions within the study area. The results of the PEL Study will be used to identify multiple stand-alone transportation projects which include multiple corridors and other transportation modal needs such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Zoe Boniface/Rhoneymeade 16801 Rhoneymeade is a special place halfway between Boalsburg and Centre Hall. It is Clearwater Conservatories first agricultural easement (130 of 150 acres), a historical site: its spring was a site used by Native Americans crossing Penn’s Valley; it once was part of the William Penn Family's Manor of Nottingham; it was the home of Leonard Rhone, who founded the Grange Fair. Rhoneymeade has a sculpture garden and arboretum. Its garden areas emphasize native and historic heritage plants. The cultivated acres are certified organic and moving toward permaculture. It is an exceptionally beautiful spot. We are working to add 10 acres to our easement, for wildlife habitat and wetlands restoration. Rhoneymeade is open to the public during daylight hours (excluding Mondays) during garden season, April to October. Currently it is a private foundation, we are VERY close to reclassification as a public charity. We are concerned that we might not be properly noted in your site research since we are not YET a public charity. We want to put the proposed road as far away from Rhoneymeade as possibly so as not diminish the quality of the site particularly regarding noise and air pollution. I am Chair of the Board. James Lesher is Executive Director. We would LOVE to give your team tours of Rhoneymeade so that you too can see why it must be protected.
Response (5)
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
CR-2: The SCAC PEL Study included the use of secondary sources to identify archaeological resources within the 70-square mile study area. The information compiled included mapping generated by a state-wide Pre-Contact Probability Model of pre-contact period site locations and an historic-period predictive model of site locations. In addition, mapping has also been generated of known pre-contact and historic-period archaeological site locations presented in the PA State Historic Preservation Office’s Cultural Resources GIS. The archaeological predictive models and site location data compiled for the study area will allow the project team to visually assess the potential effects to archaeologically sensitive areas for proposed transportation improvements. This information will serve as the basis for defining and recommending future detailed archaeological investigations that will be conducted as part of the future NEPA phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study. These initial efforts also included initiation of coordination with the Native American Tribes. Two of the Tribes, the Delaware Tribe of Indians and the Seneca Nation of Indians, accepted the invitation to be a Participating Agency for the SCAC PEL Study.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
Custom Response: The non-profit Rhoneymeade Arboretum and Sculpture Garden have been added in the project mapping and documentation as a Community Facility. The conservation easement that encompasses the property is included in the project’s conservation easement mapping and the Leonard Rhone House on the property is included in the mapping for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
NULL Centre County Farmland Trust 16801 Dear Mr. Ball: Your name is listed as Project Manager for the 322 corridor which is currently under study, with 5 alternatives listed on the public map. I am speaking for myself as a resident of Harris Township, but also as President of the Centre County Farmland Trust (CCFT), whose current board members are also listed on this email. As a resident of Harris Township, I understand the need for the improved road, but it disturbs me to see the proposed road locations swerving widely from the existing roadway, possibly to avoid impacting recently built high-value housing, but causing a lot of collateral damage to valuable and irreplaceable farmland and family farms that have existed for generations. The Centre County Farmland Trust board has had recent discussions of the roadway additions and are alarmed about their potential impact on farmland that is protected by preservation easements held by CCFT. Our Organization is a 501(c)(3) incorporated land trust with the mission of preserving valuable agricultural land and open space in partnership with landowners who have donated perpetual conservation easements. You can find information about us at our website: centrecountyfarmlandtrust.org. We have 16 farms under conservation easement, and we believe at least two of those may be in the path of your alternative 322 corridors. One impacted farm is located south of 322 in Potter Township and is listed as county tax parcel no20-009-004 (154 Par Sonics Road - Royer Parcel) This is an operating heifer operation on 31 acres of good farmland. It appears to be in the path of all 5 of your alternatives. We are not sure that your group is even aware of this preserved farmland being located in your corridor. The maps are too general for us to be sure if this valuable farmland is impacted by your plans. The second preserved farm is the Schempf Farm located at 156 Cedar Run Road (Tax No 25-001-031). This farm is located north of Route 45, and well away from route 322, but is apparently being considered as a location for your corridor 322-3. The Schempf Farm includes a beautifully restored farmhouse, riparian conservation projects along an area near the source of Cedar Run and preserved active farmland. Destruction of the Schempf farm would be an irreplaceable loss of a farm and land which our organization has pledged to help preserve in perpetuity. As a citizen and also on behalf of The Centre County Farmland Trust, I am requesting that in drawing your plans, you strongly consider the effects on valuable preserved agricultural lands, and that where at all possible that you arrange to avoid the proposed devastating impacts to our agricultural heritage.
Response (4)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Michele Chernege 16801 I was a student at PSU, now an employee, and my two children are still townies. We are all active commuting to work by bicycle as well as biking for recreation. So of course, we ask that your consider pedestrian and cyclists in all your planning. Make it safe for them! With the super surge and on going growth of e-bikes, this will be even more relevant. A shared path the connect Boalsburg to Rothrock is important, but a just a part. As for where the road should go: the only sensible is Route 144.
Response (3)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NULL College Township Water Authority 16801 On behalf of the College Township Water Authority (CTWA), please be advised that a new source of public water supply is under development at Oak Hall Park. This new well, designated OH-20, is presently under review by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and PADEP. Hydrogeologic investigations related to this groundwater source identified the Cedar Run valley as a major contributing groundwater area to the well yield. While any major highway project in the areas east and south of Oak Hall could impact this future well, CTWA desires to make this formal comment and be on the record as it relates to this well and the zone of influence in the Upper Spring Creek watershed. Significant excavation, bridge footing installations, blasting, exposure of fractures, or other impacts to the current groundwater patterns in the area of Cedar Run within 1.5 miles east of Oak Hall Park may have deleterious impacts. This directly involves connector routes 322-2 and 322-3. Further information on the potential impacts to OH-20, the presence of fractures in the area, and the zones of groundwater influence may be obtained from the SRBC report prepared by Dr. Richard Parizek, P.G., PhD. A general map is attached for your reference. Should you require further information in your vetting of the geologic characteristics of the area and the impact to public water supplies, we invite you to speak with Dr. Parizek or contact CTWA for additional information. Private contact information intentionally removed from comment.
Response (1)
SER-6: Public water and sewer service areas in the SCAC Study Area have been defined and mapped using secondary sources. In addition, information related to the public water supply sources have been compiled, including the location of water supply wells within the study area and current Source Water Protective Plans (includes plans put in place by the public water provider and municipality to identify potential threats to public drinking water and to set goals and implement strategies to protect the sources). This information includes information for the State College Borough Water Authority (portion of service area extends into the SCAC Study Area), the College Township Water Authority (includes a new public water supply well and potential influence zones within the SCAC Study Area), the Centre Hall Borough Water Department (in addition to multiple smaller community water supply wells in Potter Township and the Township’s Regional Source Protection Plan), and the Spring Township Water Authority (portion of service area extends into the SCAC Study Area). This information will be used during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. PennDOT recognizes the need to protect public drinking water sources and the particular sensitivities associated with aquifers within karst landscapes that include sinkholes, caves, springs, and sinking stream. These areas can be particularly vulnerable to groundwater contamination and PennDOT will evaluate various design options for proposed transportation improvement projects carried forward to ensure these improvements do not adversely affect drinking water supplies.
John Cunningham 16801 I believe that the routes that go more directly into the greater State College area make the most sense. It is by far the most likely destination for all traffic on this section of Route 322.
Response (2)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Sean Cunningham 16801 It looks like the safest alternative to the current road would be to make changes to PA 144 instead of US 322. I think the safest and most cost-effective solution would be to upgrade PA 144 enough to allow heavy truck traffic to use it and not have to detour via US 322 and I-99. However a full upgrade to a limited access highway from Potters Mills to Pleasant Gap is not necessary.
Response (5)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Linda Eck 16801 Having safe and efficient highways that access State College and connect to major highways in the Centre Region is important. My concern and opposition is to option 322-4 which runs directly through the Calvary Church property. With its newly constructed building which serves a large faith community plus has also enabled other non-profit organization to make use of their property to serve a variety of other audiences and meet larger community needs. One of these non-profits is Footprints in the Field which has greatly benefited from the use of Calvary Harvest Fields property to create a pregnancy and infant loss remembrance garden on the grounds of Harvest Fields. This is a special place that has been created as a sacred space of remembrance for families throughout the region, who have suffered loss of an infant or young child. Often these losses are not recognized with special place of their own. Destroying this special garden will cause pain and suffering for families who have lost so much already. For these reasons I ask you to consider alternative routes for this new road expansion without causing more loss for grieving families. Thank you for your consideration.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Jon Eich 16801 1. The observations that follow are my personal observations. I am a member of advisory boards. If any/each of those boards take a position that differs from mine I will be obligated to represent the opinion/position/observations of the Advisory Board. 2. Harris Township reports significant discrepancies between the data represented in the SCAC Base Maps And the actual current circumstances in Harris Township. With a $3 million data refresh of SCCCTS data and $5 million allocated for this study, it is difficult to understand the reliance on out of date data. 3. The amount of data on the origin destination summary on the website makes it difficult to compare the volumes of autos to trucks – are 80% of the trips by auto? 4. The overlay process used makes it difficult to locate and identify landmarks on the base maps. This in turn makes it difficult to identify impacts to existing structures and neighborhoods. 5. The virtual public meeting held in 2020 reported the findings of an origin and destination study for US 322, PA 144, and PA 45. It appears that trucks comprise about 20% of the traffic on these two lane highways, with 80+% of the trucks on US 322 having an O&D outside the region. About half the trucks on PA 144 and PA 45 have O&D outside the region. Auto traffic on these roads also have O&Ds outside region but at much lower percentages: 26% on US 322, 35% on PA 144, and just 12% on PA 45. The question that needs to be answered is whether the Commonwealth can afford to build a limited access highway in the PA 144 alignments that serves less than half the traffic? 6. It has been 3 generations - about 60 years from when this project was originally proposed and when construction is projected to be completed. Growth in the Centre region has been substantial in that time - with particular impacts to the West End of the US 322 alternatives. 7. Once background data in Harris (and perhaps College) Township one or more of the alternatives may be eliminated. 8. It is difficult to understand how the portions of alternatives 322-1 and 322-5 that appear to utilize a portion of the existing US 322 will be able to serve local, mixed, and regional traffic - unless the mapping is intended to represent parallel alignments for the proposed and existing alignments. 9. The potential interchange on proposed alternatives US 322-4/US 322-5 near the intersection of existing US 322 and Taylor Hill Road will encourage sprawl in an area with no public infrastructure to provide water, sewage disposal, and other public services. this interchange is contrary to adopted comprehensive plans. It should be eliminated consideration. 10. Because of the screen use on the background is difficult to determine where the interchange between the post alternatives 144-1,2,3 with PA 45 is located. How close is the interchange to the iconic Round Barn? 11. How much cut & fill will be required to locate any of the 144 alternatives in a manner to take the potential alignment over or through Nittany Mountain? Where would the spoil be moved to? What is the chance of encountering acid rock formation that plagued the I-99 project on Bald Eagle Mountain and caused the redesign of the I-99/I-80 high speed interchange? If encountered how will this material be handled? 12. What are the impacts of the potential 144 alternatives on the Centre Air Park? 13. How soon will updated data described by Harris Township be added to the basemaps and change to the potential alignments in the US 322 corridor be available? 14. What would the impacts be on existing socio-economic features if an alignment like 322-1 located adjacent to the existing US 322 were selected? Please provide 2021 data. 15. The table of socio-economic impacts contains data for an upgrade to US 322. potential alternatives 322-2 and 322-3 include possible interchanges with PA 45. please identify impacts for upgrades in the PA 45 corridor in Harris Township if alternative 322-1, -4, -5, or the 144 alternatives are chosen. 16. What is the cost of building the potential 144 alternatives over/through quarries? What is the impact on quarry operations? 17. What are the noise impacts of the alternatives, with and without mitigation measures? How many social-economic features, cultural features, and Environmental features would be affected by noise from traffic using each of the potential alternatives? How many acres would be included in the noise impact area of each alternative? 18. How soon can we expect to see updated alignments based on mapping with current information?
Response (18)
AR/E-10: PennDOT is in the process of developing planning level construction cost estimates for each of the potential Build Alternative corridors. This estimated construction cost will be determined by quantifying major construction items such as pavement, structures, earthwork, and drainage items and applying a unit cost per linear foot of alignment. This unit cost is then multiplied by the length of each corridor to determine an estimated construction cost. Additional costs associated with right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, environmental mitigation will be applied to determine a planning-level cost estimate for each Build Alternative corridor. The long term future maintenance costs will also be a factor when evaluating total alternative costs.
AR/E-11: The proposed Build Alternatives are essentially corridors that future alignments could be developed within if the alternative is advanced for further study. The information in the environmental comparison matrices are not actual impact tallies but simply identify resources that are found within the various corridors. Should the alternative be advanced for further study, preliminary engineering activities would occur to define a limit of disturbance associated with the proposed project as well as any additional local road improvements and mitigation measures that would need to occur as a result of the proposed project.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
AR/E-9: The Build Alternative corridors and PEL Study resources are available for review on the study webmap. The webmap can be found on the study website at www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC (State College Area Connector – PEL Study Resources (arcgis.com))
GC-11: The next step in the SCAC PEL process will be to refine the mapping and corridors based on public comment and present the revised information at a public meeting. It is anticipated that this meeting to present the revised materials will be in the spring of 2022.
GC-4: Studies for transportation improve­ments within and adjacent to the study area have been undertaken at various times since the 1970s. This includes PA 144 which received weight restrictions north of PA 45 in the late 1980s; numerous safety improvements along US 322 between 2006 and 2014; and the construction of US 322 to a four lane limited access highway from Seven Mountains to Potters Mills. The largest study to date was concluded in the late 1990s and early 2000s called the South Central Centre County Transportation Study (SCCCTS). The SCCCTS was a specific project that was undertaken to evaluate transportation improvements along the US 322, PA 144, and PA 45 corridors from the vicinity of the top of Seven Mountains in Potter Township, west to the Village of Boalsburg in Harris Township, and north to the Village of Pleasant Gap in Spring Township. The study was stopped in 2004 due to a statewide transportation funding shortfall. While there is overlap in transportation need and geography between the SCCCTS and SCAC, the SCAC PEL Study is utilized to look at a broader context relative to transportation issues and solutions within the study area. The results of the PEL Study will be used to identify multiple stand-alone transportation projects which include multiple corridors and other transportation modal needs such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
GC-9: The SCAC PEL Study process encompasses seven different phases. The SCAC PEL is currently in phase 4 (Screen Alternatives and Determine Impacts). The SCAC PEL schedule currently calls for completion in the summer of 2022 which may extend into the fall in order to receive the Federal Highway Administration’s approval to advance to preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigation. At that time, the alternative options to be advanced will be made publicly known. The boards from the public meeting “State College Area Connector PEL Process” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/05_SCAC_PEL-Process-Timeline-Board.pdf) and “What is the Process for Advancing Transportation Projects?” (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/03_Transportation-Process-Board.pdf) provide more information about the overall transportation project timelines and the PEL process as well.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-4: During the planning study, two of the geologic formations identified within the 70-square mile study area, the Bald Eagle and Juniata Formations, are known for containing in-situ pyrite as well as vein pyrite. These areas include large parts of Nittany Mountain that would be crossed by the PA 144 Build Alternative options. If the pyrite rock were to be exposed during excavation for the construction of transportation improvements, the excavated material would require treatment and/or encapsulation and cut slopes would be required to be treated to prevent Acid Drainage. In general, cut slopes associated with construction can generally be steepened to minimize the volume of excavated material, but for those areas where cut slopes would be parallel to the bedrock orientation, stability evaluations and potentially flatter slopes would need to be evaluated. It is anticipated that preliminary geotechnical investigations will be conducted as part of any future detailed environmental reviews for future transportation projects that would encroach the formations of concern and design modifications would be made as needed, to avoid/minimize these encroachments. Detailed geotechnical investigations would be conducted during the final design phase of any proposed transportation improvement project and the potential for encountering pyritic rock that would raise concerns for Acid Drainage would be defined in the project’s Geotechnical Engineering Report. Special provisions would be developed as part of the construction plans to provide direction on the management, treatment, and disposal of excavated material and rock cut areas.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
ROW 3: Impacts due to the taking of land and mineable materials would be considered in the Appraisal process.
SER-1: During the development of the SCAC PEL Study’s Purpose and Need Statement, it was noted that the employment and educational opportunities of the Pennsylvania State University, along with the relatively high quality of living standard, make Centre County (including the study area) attractive for development. Population within the study area is currently expected to have only nominal growth. Population and households had annual linear growth rates of 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively. Employment is expected to grow at a higher rate (2.0% per year), generating over 10,000 additional employment trips by 2050. The 2050 traffic volumes developed for this study reflect 2050 population and employment projections provided by the Centre County MPO. Recent development, including residential subdivisions and commercial and industrial sites, in the study area (i.e., Harris Township, located in the western portion of the study area) have been identified through secondary sources and select field reconnaissance, to update the study area mapping.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-7: The locations of proposed interchanges are based on traffic patterns and anticipated future traffic needs with the intent to maximize the use of the proposed transportation improvements. While interchange locations can influence land use, particularly if they are located in an area that has no current access to the regional transportation network, development and growth in these areas is controlled by the local municipality by zoning, utilities, and land development plans. It is anticipated that future NEPA studies for proposed transportation improvements projects carried forward will include the assessment of “Indirect and Cumulative Effects”. Indirect effects are defined as those that are “caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable;” and cumulative effects are defined as those that result from “the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of what agency or person undertakes such other actions.” This assessment would address, among other issues, the potential of proposed new interchanges to encourage land development where it would not previously be undertaken.
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
Custom Response: The round barn is approximately 1-mile west of the proposed PA 144 interchange location. The 144-3 corridor would cross the eastern end of the runway whereas the 144-1 and 144-2 corridors would cross the eastern approach to the runway. Actual impact is not known at this time based on planning level conceptual engineering.
Rebecca Eltz 16801 Hello’ I've looked over the options on the level 2B screening alternative slide (https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/dis trict- 2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/9-2021_VPM/19_Level-2B-Screening-Alt-Overview.pdf) for re-routing 322. Could you please NOT pick option 322-4? I am a college township resident. I attend Calvary Church (201 Harvest Fields Drive). Our family uses the property at Harvest Fields 3 times per week. We really enjoy using the mountain bike trails. It would be very sad to remove the church building and to put the freeway in the path of our favorite biking trails. Thank you for considering my thoughts. It would also be my preference to skip 322-5 and 322-1 as those would have a large impact on Harvest fields as well. Kind Regards, Rebecca Eltz
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Tom Ertsgaard 16801 I just learned of the meetings being hosted on Sept 22 and 23 on the 22nd, right before heading out-of-town. It was at that point tho, that I began getting a little familiar with the OPTIONS. It appears to me that 6 of the 9 options would still take all of the truck traffic past the Westbound downhill grade that is within about 1-mile East of the College Avenue Exit. I live in the Centre Hills Village neighborhood, uphill from that road cut, where we hear lots of traffic and truck noise from 322. It struck me that residents might be less adverse to any of the 6 options that continue to take truck traffic along the current route IF noise-reduction measures were implemented in the vicinity of the heavily populated areas. The first, and seemingly most simple, measure would be to BAN the use of jake brakes between Oak hall/Boalsburg Exist and the College Avenue Exit (sorry I don’t have mile-markers or Exit numbers). I’ve been meaning to identify the area I am referring to, by mile-markers, but I am not sure I will get that before the required deadline for this Comment/input. I know I need to get this comment to you before Oct. 3. Please seriously consider, and implement, noise reduction measures for where Route US 322 traverses through the vicinity of the heavily populated areas of Lemont and State College. My suggestion is, the sooner noise is reduced, and residents see how serious PennDOT is, the less adverse residents will be to the continued use of this 322 corridor for future truck traffic. Thanks for your consideration. And please let me know if I can help explain this any more.
Response (4)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-8: The scope of this SCAC PEL Study does not include a reinvestigation of highway traffic noise and/or mitigation strategies associated with the Mt Nittany Expressway. PennDOT policy does not provide for highway traffic noise analyses associated with an existing roadway for which no improvement work is taking place. However, several residential communities and noise-sensitive land uses have been identified adjacent to the eastern portion of the Mt Nittany Expressway where some of the proposed improvement corridors would tie into the expressway and these areas would be evaluated as part of future noise analyses if the proposed transportation improvement alternatives carried forward into the NEPA process would include improvements in the vicinity of the communities. In areas where traffic noise impacts are identified, noise mitigation (i.e., noise walls) will be evaluated for feasibility and reasonableness.
NR-9: Truck traffic noise caused by the use of compression release brakes or 'Jake Brakes' is not effectively reduced through the use of concrete noise barriers and it has been found that compression release brake noise is best addressed by local legislation and strict enforcement of that legislation. However, major transportation improvements that accommodate truck traffic patterns, reduce traffic congestion, minimize steep grades, and better manage traffic exiting and entering the roadway may reduce the need for truckers to use compression release brakes to slow down and therefore reduce the noise caused by their use.
Greg Fredericks 16801 I would be concerned about bringing all the truck traffic into the Centre Region, mixing with auto and local traffic, all to send it back out to I-80. Safety improved with truck not in the local mix. The Centre Hall PA144 appears less disruptive to established housing. The PA144 option may pick up more PA45 traffic then the US 322 option. With that stated, I have not studied all the data as your team has.
Response (7)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
The Executive Board Gates Condominium Association 16801 We are the Executive Board of the Gates Condominium Association and we represent The Gates, a 155-unit condominium community located on Discovery Drive in Boalsburg. We thank you for hosting the in-person public meetings on September 22 and 23. The project representatives were easy to engage in conversation, knowledgeable, and eager to answer questions. We write today in opposition to a number of the alternatives for US-322 as part of the State College Area Connector project. Specifically, we strongly oppose alternatives 322-1, 322-4, and 322-5. These three alternatives include a potential interchange at the current intersection of US-322 and US-322 Business in Boalsburg. This interchange would be located about 1000 feet from the entrance to The Gates. Moreover, 322-4 includes a corridor through the Calvary Harvest Fields property, which would be about 800 feet from the entrance to The Gates. Lastly, we oppose any other alternative that would place a corridor or interchange as close or closer to The Gates than the current proposed alternatives. A corridor or interchange built this close to the community would negatively impact property values within the community. From within the community, we are currently able to hear car and truck traffic on US-322. Given the purpose of the SCAC, in part, is to be able to handle the expected increase in traffic over the next few decades, it is reasonable to assume a corridor or interchange within 1000 feet of the entrance to The Gates would increase the traffic noise over what we currently experience. Beyond noise, residents of this community frequently walk, run, hike, bike, and more in the surrounding community, including the grounds of Calvary Harvest Fields, Tussey Mountain Ski and Recreation, and Rothrock State Forest via Galbraith Gap, many of which would be impacted by the three alternatives referenced above. We appreciate the opportunity to provide this feedback on the SCAC project to you and sincerely hope that you will remove alternatives 322-1, 322-4, and 322-5 from consideration along with any other alternative that would result in a corridor or interchange within 1000 feet of the entrance to The Gates on Discovery Drive and/or impact the above referenced nearby areas.
Response (7)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
ROW 4: When appraising properties under the Eminent Domain Code in Pennsylvania, any market value increases or decreases due to general knowledge of a future transportation project are not considered in the Before Value (e.g., fair market value) of the property being acquired. In other words, the Before Value is the property’s fair market value if the project was not being implemented. Any increase or decrease in market value due to property acquisition is considered in the After Value (e.g., property value following implementation of the transportation project) of the property and compensation and/or damages paid following negotiations, accordingly. Additionally, perceived project damages or benefits attributed to the whole community are not considered in the After Value nor to other properties without acquisitions in the community. Essentially, PennDOT is not allowed to reimburse for an assumed decrease in property value (e.g., damages) for any property that is not directly acquired by the project. Community impacts related to viewshed and noise concerns are assessed and mitigated through means other than financial compensation
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Kendra Gettig 16801 Please do not take this road through the Harvest Fields property. In addition to a place of worship, the property is used by the community. It's the vision of the church for the community to use the property. Hundreds of people come there on a weekly basis to enjoy the property -- for biking, hiking, dog walking, swimming, frisbee golf, etc. It's a place of peace and quiet, which is hard to find. In addition, the church uses the property to serve the community -- thousands of people received food during COVID, individuals experiencing homelessness regularly stay on the property in partnership with Out of the Cold: Centre County, agencies and coalitions regularly meet on the property, Night to Shine (a prom for people with special needs is hosted there), etc. In addition, there is a counseling center and daycare on the property. Our community is better because of Harvest Fields and it would be a significant loss to not be able to use the property. Thanks.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Kirsten Grigor 16801 Graphics were very helpful but it's better to do a matte finish so they don't reflect making them harder to see. My favored situation is update existing. Seems the most logical because if you bought or built your house nearby, you already could see it was a busy road and based on local growth, one should have known it would eventually need to be widened. That also seems that it would have the least impact environmentally.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-18: Your comments on exhibits will be considered for future public meetings. At these meetings, PennDOT and its representatives are located at each exhibit station to aid in reviewing study information and addressing questions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Elias Habashy 16801 I love Harvest Fields! Please don’t have a big road there. I want to bike and play there. -Elias, age 3
Response (2)
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Noel & Mary Habashy 16801 I am writing to share my concern about the 322 extension option that will run through Harvest Fields. Harvest fields is an extremely important part of our community and very important place for us. As a family we play here, mountain bike here, watch sunrises and sunsets, have picnics, and worship here. We are extremely concerned about road options that would reduce our abilities to do any of those things. We are asking that you would please not include any road options that travel through Harvest Fields in future planning. We want to be able to continue to play, worship and have our kids learn to mountain bike at this special location. Thank you for your consideration.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Kate Hackman 16801 I am a member at Calvary Harvest Fields and I am deeply concerned (and frankly a bit angry) that one of the options for this project goes directly through my church building. Calvary has spent years investing in our local community. The Harvest Fields property is home to bike/hiking trails, dog walking/exercise areas, a large community church that pulls from all over the centre region, a daycare, and other spaces that are open to and beloved by the whole community, not just church members. The idea that PennDot would even consider running a highway connector through a property like this shows not only lack of understanding in how much this property adds to our area but also complete lack of care and concern for our community members (both church going and non) who have come to love this property and all if offers. In the strongest possible terms I urge the committee to remove this option from their current and future plans.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
George Harrigan 16801 While I was not at all surprised to learn during my visit to the Open House that there are active natural bat dwellings to be considered in the study area, the extent of the habitat boundaries isn’t logical and needs to be challenged. A vast majority of the meadowed, largely treeless valley floor is so designated, While the same map excludes the Tussey Ridge bordering the natural areas of Rothrock State Forest. I support construction avoiding true habitat areas, I fear that we have mapping errors that need to be addressed before proceeding.
Response (2)
NR-5: The bat habitat identified for the 70-square mile study area includes the potential extent of the bat summer roost/maternity habitat and fall swarming habitat for the protected Indiana and northern long-eared bats, and known winter bat colony habitats (i.e., bat caves, which include a minimum of three sites present within or adjacent to the study area). The summer roost/maternity habitat describes the area in which bats may spend the months feeding and giving birth to pups. Fall swarming habitat describes the habitat close to their winter hibernacula prior to entering the hibernacula for the winter months. Potential summer roost and fall swarming habitat is present in the study area and the mapping depicts the “buffers” surrounding the three known bat hibernacula based on parameters provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Services and the PA Game Commission. These buffers encompass the majority of the study area; however, given the location of the three known bat caves, the Tussey Mountain region did not fall within these buffers for these protected bat hibernacula. It is recognized that bats of various species would use the wooded areas of Tussey Mountain as summer roost habitat, including possibly protected bat species. The planning study also identified various wildlife habitat features, including bat habitat, such as active/inactive quarries, natural karst features (potential bat hibernacula), and forest land (potential roosting habitat) throughout the study area. The information compiled for the planning study is intended to be used to identify areas of sensitive natural resources within the study area, including the extent of potential habitat for protected bat species. It is anticipated that additional agency coordination and field surveys will be required for any future transportation project studies, that may include surveys for threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species such as protected bat species.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
George Harrigan 16801 My first comment is to express my disappointment with how little has been accomplished, despite significant passage of time. We are very nearly two years into the process and have not completed an update to current status of the study area data. The fact that route alternatives have gone beyond the “consideration stage and have been published at some level of detail (see Centre Daily Times and Gazette articles printing of same) without any onsite evaluations/verifications is indicative of PennDOT's halfhearted commitment to the project’s study results. I submit that mapping discrepancies have resulted in flawed alternatives which will all need redrawing once the impact of growth on the landscape of Harris Township is better in focus. Yet to be considered in any of the options shown are property acquisition costs (or costs of any kind), Short or long term noise and air pollution impacts, line of sight disruptions and municipality property value or tax base considerations. We are many miles from a basis for constructive conversation before leading ourselves out of study and into design stages. It is apparent to me that that Origin /Destination study data is being dismissed. I suggest it be shared in greater detail with the public so that we can reasonably assess that our environment deserves to be violated in the interest of solving the problem of trucks, more specifically tractor trailers trying to route between interstate roadways. Current 322Truck traffic is 82% regional, showing clearly that access to State College is not a priority. The question that should be on the table is how much of the issue can be addressed by routing US 76 truck traffic on a toll free basis between Exits 1 and 242 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Even a 50 % impact is significant to our local statistics and comes with the added safety and congestion reductions through Harrisburg’s disjointed and confusing highway matrix. So much more focus and attention could be provided to solving local traffic issues with the through trailer issue dramatically diminished and we may potentially achieve an out of the box approach with much less carbon footprint impact, less asphalt and fewer (not more) highway miles in our state's already too high inventory of roadways. PennDOT has not met the Sunshine Laws “public meeting intent with either event format utilized to date. While the open house environment was a significant improvement, as data hardens and discussions progress, we will need a forum that is amenable to public engagement, exchange and yes, dare I say, debate. It is hearings and meetings such as those that form the basis of both state and federal government decision making, neither virtual nor disconnected open house conversations can substitute for participants sharing questions, responses and discussions that ultimately lead to a meeting of the minds “governance. Thank you for the opportunity to participate, your already spent years of hard work and the future of more of the same as this journey takes shape to it's conclusion.
Response (9)
AR/E-10: PennDOT is in the process of developing planning level construction cost estimates for each of the potential Build Alternative corridors. This estimated construction cost will be determined by quantifying major construction items such as pavement, structures, earthwork, and drainage items and applying a unit cost per linear foot of alignment. This unit cost is then multiplied by the length of each corridor to determine an estimated construction cost. Additional costs associated with right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, environmental mitigation will be applied to determine a planning-level cost estimate for each Build Alternative corridor. The long term future maintenance costs will also be a factor when evaluating total alternative costs.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-13: The SCAC open house public meeting was developed and conducted in accordance with PennDOT’s Publication 295 (Pub 295) (May 2021) – Project Level Public Involvement Handbook (Pub 295) which was coordinated with the Federal Highway Administration. Pub 295 outlines acceptable formats for presenting and soliciting comments on transportation projects with the public during the environmental and preliminary engineering phase of project development. As the SCAC PEL Study results will be used in future environmental studies, the guidance outline in Pub 295 was deemed appropriate for use in this study. In accordance with Pub 295, an open house public meeting, like the September 2021 SCAC public meeting, is an acceptable format. The meeting, such as the one held by PennDOT in September, was purely for informational purposes and did not meet the requirements for a “meeting” as outlined in the Sunshine Law (the Law defines a meeting as any prearranged gathering of an agency which is attended or participated in by a quorum of the members of an agency held for the purpose of deliberating agency business or taking official action.). While the open house meeting did meet the first criteria of the Sunshine Law of being prearranged, it was not intended to have a quorum of agency members in attendance, nor was agency business deliberated on or any official action taken. This meeting provided draft study specific information for which PennDOT was soliciting public comments and no agency or study decisions were made at the meeting. Future public meetings for this study may incorporate more formal approaches to information sharing and comment collection.
GC-3: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and in coordination with the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), is conducting this SCAC PEL Study. This SCAC PEL Study is a collaborative and integrated study approach to transportation planning that considers the environment, community, and local and regional economic goals early in the planning phase of transportation decision making. Planning decisions and outcomes will inform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process for the independent transportation project(s) identified during the PEL Study. This PEL Study will identify transportation problems and improvement solutions within a 70-square mile geographic area for planning purposes. This PEL Study will consider a range of transportation alternatives to address the various problems throughout the study area. The final PEL report will document all the study findings including the rationale for identifying what transportation projects to be advanced for further environmental and engineering investigations. As this PEL Study is looking at a broad geographic area, the study name was established by PennDOT to convey the general location of the study area and not a specific roadway termini or destination of any future transportation improvement project that will be proposed during the PEL Study.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
ROW 1: Acquisition costs and anticipated impacts to properties are only a few of the many factors that are considered in future studies when identifying a preferred alternative.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
James C. Hickey 16801 1. Environmental concerns: Any modification to 322 would increase greenhouse emissions. new connection between 322 and 80 needs to be as direct as possible. The routes within Potter Township along route 144 provides a more direct connection to interstate 80, generating less greenhouse gas from trucks and cars traveling through our region. 2. Conservation and additional environmental concerns: The headwaters of both Cedar Creek and Spring Creek lie within the areas designated as potential route 322 modifications (around the Boalsburg area). Construction of the State College Connector in this area would be disruptive to those headwaters. Option 322-3 specifically impacts protected Shemp family wetlands and farmlands 3. Congestion: Route 322 is already a busy commuter road and will only become more congested as the State College area continues to grow. Co-mingling local commuter traffic and truck traffic destined for I-80 would significantly increase through traffic and would prove dangerous, not only now but in the future. 4. Disruption to homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods: All the proposed routes along 322 (322-1, 322-2, 322-3, 322-4 and 322-5) would be especially disruptive to the region and especially the Boalsburg community. Homes would be taken, neighborhoods divided, and communities destroyed. 5. Safety: The impact to the local community during football weekends and Penn State events is unimaginable. 322 and the adjoining roads are used not only by our local commuters but also by school buses carrying our children. Truck through traffic should be diverted away from residential neighborhoods as much as possible. 6. Business 322: lt is more reasonable to establish the current route 322 as a business route 322 and have the new connector go along one of the proposed Potter township routes (144). This option would allow our local businesses to continue to prosper.
Response (14)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-7: Impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). While the US 322 corridor includes many residential developments and plans for future developments, PennDOT also recognizes the rural nature of both the US 322 and the PA 144 corridors which include more dispersed rural communities relying on an agriculture economy and the viability of farm operations. Community impacts, including impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and known archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to all valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Jon B. Hickey 16801 1. Environmental concerns: Any modification to 322 would increase greenhouse emissions. new connection between 322 and 80 needs to be as direct as possible. The routes within Potter Township along route 144 provides a more direct connection to interstate 80, generating less greenhouse gas from trucks and cars traveling through our region. 2. Conservation and additional environmental concerns: The headwaters of both Cedar Creek and Spring Creek lie within the areas designated as potential route 322 modifications (around the Boalsburg area). Construction of the State College Connector in this area would be disruptive to those headwaters. Option 322-3 specifically impacts protected Shemp family wetlands and farmlands 3. Congestion: Route 322 is already a busy commuter road and will only become more congested as the State College area continues to grow. Co-mingling local commuter traffic and truck traffic destined for I-80 would significantly increase through traffic and would prove dangerous, not only now but in the future. 4. Disruption to homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods: All the proposed routes along 322 (322-1, 322-2, 322-3, 322-4 and 322-5) would be especially disruptive to the region and especially the Boalsburg community. Homes would be taken, neighborhoods divided, and communities destroyed. 5. Safety: The impact to the local community during football weekends and Penn State events is unimaginable. 322 and the adjoining roads are used not only by our local commuters but also by school buses carrying our children. Truck through traffic should be diverted away from residential neighborhoods as much as possible. 6. Business 322: lt is more reasonable to establish the current route 322 as a business route 322 and have the new connector go along one of the proposed Potter township routes (144). This option would allow our local businesses to continue to prosper.
Response (14)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-7: Impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). While the US 322 corridor includes many residential developments and plans for future developments, PennDOT also recognizes the rural nature of both the US 322 and the PA 144 corridors which include more dispersed rural communities relying on an agriculture economy and the viability of farm operations. Community impacts, including impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and known archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to all valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Cathy Holsing 16801 I believe it is important to have safe and efficient transportation access to State College and to connect the major highways within the Centre Region. I am very opposed to option 322-2, which runs directly through the property of Calvary church. This organization, with a newly constructed building, serves not only a large faith community within the Centre Region but has also enabled other non-profit organizations to make use of their property to serve a variety of other audiences and to address other community needs. Footprints in the Fields is one of these non-profits which has greatly benefited from being able to use the Calvary Harvest Fields property to create a pregnancy and infant loss remembrance garden on the Harvest Fields grounds. This special place has been created to provide a sacred space of remembrance for families from anywhere within the region who have suffered the loss of an infant or young child. Often, these losses are not recognized with a special place of their own, and our garden is such a space. Destroying this space will cause pain and suffering for families who have already lost so much. For this reason, I ask that you consider alternative routes that would meet the transportation needs of the community without creating more loss for grieving families.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Megan Kennington 16801 Alternatives 322-2 & 322-3 seem like best alternative. Updating the existing route will create so much more traffic and noise to the residents and reducing the value of homes greatly. Going through Tussey Mountain ski area and nature trails and residential neighborhood would be a detriment and have such a negative impact to the wonderful outdoor community we have.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
ROW 4: When appraising properties under the Eminent Domain Code in Pennsylvania, any market value increases or decreases due to general knowledge of a future transportation project are not considered in the Before Value (e.g., fair market value) of the property being acquired. In other words, the Before Value is the property’s fair market value if the project was not being implemented. Any increase or decrease in market value due to property acquisition is considered in the After Value (e.g., property value following implementation of the transportation project) of the property and compensation and/or damages paid following negotiations, accordingly. Additionally, perceived project damages or benefits attributed to the whole community are not considered in the After Value nor to other properties without acquisitions in the community. Essentially, PennDOT is not allowed to reimburse for an assumed decrease in property value (e.g., damages) for any property that is not directly acquired by the project. Community impacts related to viewshed and noise concerns are assessed and mitigated through means other than financial compensation
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Paul Kerr 16801 My name is Paul Kerr, and I am President of Kerr Land & Cattle Company and the Kerr FLIP which owns the farm property at 2165 General Potter Highway, Centre Hall, Pa. 16828. It is in an Agricultural Security Area and Agricultural Zoning District with over 300 acres of Productive Agricultural Land. It is also Prime Farmland Soils. We also are registered as a Clean and Green Property. We are very concerned about Alternate Routes 322-1, 322-2, and 322-3 splitting our property and pastures in half. We have a cow/calf operation with just over 200 head of beef cattle. Our operation is self-contained in that we feed our cattle everything produced from our crops and pastures. What we don't feed to the cattle is sold. The feeder cattle get sold to a distributor for Whole Foods. The proposed highway divides and separates pasture fields for which the cattle need to graze, let alone take away valuable pasture/grazing land. How are we to get cattle across the highway as they are moved frequently to different pastures for grazing? All of the cow/calf, feeder, and storage buildings are on the South side of proposed routes. How are we to get our equipment across the highway from the buildings they are stored to trim pastures, make hay, plant and harvest crops, check on the cattle, etc. on the North side? To once again move cattle back and forth to buildings for shots, vaccinations, medical attention, and birthing? We see it as a major disruption to our cow/calf operation and could put us out of business. We are also very concerned with chemical input from a new highway affecting our well water quality and soil fertility negatively, as well as the degradation of air quality and tree shade. Our operation and properties get audited every year to meet the strict conditions to be a supplier to Whole Foods. They are very particular about the environment in which the cattle are raised. This proposed highway through our property could jeopardize our relationship with Whole Foods, our main source of income for the farm. In addition, the interchange near Wagner Road off of the Alternate Route 322-4/322-5 takes out the main entryway into our farm and butts up to our cow/calf barn if it doesn't take it out, and attached corral area. The US 322 Upgrade Existing Corridor also takes out the main entryway into our farm, butts up to our cow/calf barn, and hits our feeder barn and attached corrals. This is a major problem to getting cattle, product, and equipment in/out of the farm. Thank you for the opportunity to express our concerns about the proposed 322 Alternatives highway project and 322 Upgrade Existing Corridor through our beef cattle farm operation. We feel it would disrupt and close our operation. Please keep me informed with any information or questions.
Response (5)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-11: The proposed Build Alternatives are essentially corridors that future alignments could be developed within if the alternative is advanced for further study. The information in the environmental comparison matrices are not actual impact tallies but simply identify resources that are found within the various corridors. Should the alternative be advanced for further study, preliminary engineering activities would occur to define a limit of disturbance associated with the proposed project as well as any additional local road improvements and mitigation measures that would need to occur as a result of the proposed project.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Rebecca Leagenich 16801 144-2 then switch to 144-3 stay along existing roads where possible. I have reviewed maps and considered impacts. One telling stat is 80% of the truck traffic, for which this limited access highway is being built, is not headed into State College area to service our needs. There is no reason then to sacrifice Rothrock Forest/Tussey Mountain/Nittany Valley to truck traffic, noise and fumes. We also do not need three highways from our valley. Climbing Mt. Nittany, I am astounded by the current level of traffic noise (high). Climbing Tussey Mountain to the top is peaceful. Tussey is a golden eagle flyway. It's natural attributes are a huge asset to life in the area. Recent development has included increased parkland and trails. We do not need to add noise and destroy the wild aspects of Tussey Ridge and the valley below. The proposals through the valley have these problems. Thus, I favor paths following Rt. 144 over the back of Mt. Nittany. I think these cause less environmental impact and also could be positive to Spring Township and Penn Valley area as they are indeed developing. For example, the Grange Park is used more and more often for large events. I trust you will avoid prime farmland as much as possible in the path of the road and provide wildlife crossings.
Response (8)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
NR-7: PennDOT’s environmental review process includes consideration of wildlife and their habitats. Field surveys to complete wildlife habitat assessments will be completed as part of the detailed NEPA studies. These efforts may also include species presence/absence surveys. Impacts to wildlife habitat will not only consider habitat loss but also potential fragmentation. It is recognized that habitat fragmentation results in smaller unconnected areas that can reduce the quality of the remaining habitat and wildlife movement. In particular, a new highway on new alignment may create a barrier that not only removes and fragments habitat within the roadway’s limits of disturbance but may also cut off natural wildlife corridors. This in turn can present an obstacle that leads to vehicle/wildlife collisions. Fragmentation can also encourage the expansion of non-native species and predation. Some wildlife species, including neotropical migrant bird species, are highly dependent on what is referred to as interior forests to thrive. The SCAC PEL Study initiated coordination with federal and state resource agencies and that coordination will continue during the next phase of detailed studies. Of special note is the response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated February 17, 2021) that identified potential concerns with migratory bird species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Efforts will be made to design proposed transportation improvements to minimize habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition, mitigation measures will be considered during design to reduce adverse effects. These could include incorporating wildlife crossing/corridors in the roadway design to allow wildlife to travel between existing viable habitats. Wildlife crossings that may be considered are vegetated bridges or tunnels or oversized stream culverts that include a dry pathway parallel to the stream channel. These measures would not only promote safe passage for wildlife but would also reduce the potential for vehicle/wildlife collisions that makes the roadway safer for the travelling public. It is anticipated that impacts to wildlife habitats will require compensatory mitigation. This mitigation can be in the form of land acquisition for habitat preservation and/or restoration of disturbed lands to a natural state.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
James Leaman 16801 My opinion would be to enhance the existing corridor.
Response (1)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Shevyl Leaman 16801 After viewing 211 of the different possibilities, it just makes sense to widen the existing 322 road without interfering with 211 the other existing properties. It would be economical and it would not put a big hardship on others and businesses.
Response (1)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Al Luloff 16801 we have been down this road before -- (think i-99 and all the issues that arose by creating a new corridor); why not focus on expanding what is already in place (widening 322) by using the existing corridor throughout? each of the proposed routes creates numerous issues especially 322-3 which will cause irreparable damage to the environment, wetlands, flora, fauna, and historic properties -- do the right thing, save money and our natural resources in the process, and complete the project on time(maybe even ahead of schedule) -- STAY ON THE EXISTING CORRIDOR PLEASE!!!
Response (2)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Scott Mato 16801 The design for the 322 corridor from Potters Mill to State College should minimize the impact in private property and businesses. Access to Rothrock State Forest, Tussey Mountain Resort, and Calvary Church and Calvary Harvest Fields should be facilitated by the design with little or no loss of property. The Boalsburg Technology/Industrial area should remain and not be negatively impacted by the railroad.
Response (4)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Lee Moyer 16801 I prefer one of 144 routes. I think a tunnel should be considered. If money is an issue a toll should be charged. I was surprised to hear that consideration of gas use was not considered. I understand future maintenance of tunnel is problematic. The focus of the connection should be Interstate 80 and not State College.
Response (4)
AR/E-12: A tunnel alternative was dismissed from previous studies due to initial construction and long term maintenance costs. Other current factors that would deem tunneling as infeasible include excessive impacts to the existing underground mining operations and quarries, and the probability of encountering pyritic material during blasting and excavation operations. The cost of handling and disposal or treatment of the pyritic material would be factored into the costs of this alternative. Additionally, trucks carrying hazardous materials would not be allowed to traverse the tunnel, therefore would remain on the local roadway network.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Jacob Nold 16801 One of the plans runs right through Calvary Church at Harvest Fields. A place where not only we meet for worship but also a place where the community enjoys nature. There is disc golf, mountain biking and beautiful walks throughout the property. You aren't just taking away a church building, office buildings, and a house. You’re taking away a place for the community to meet. A place for the community to enjoy nature and recreational activities.
Response (2)
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Art Reede 16801 Stay as close to the existing roadway as possible. Try not to destroy businesses, homes and wild life as much as possible. In this way you will increase traffic and keep it on the 322 roadway and hurt the local area as little as possible. Also maintaining the farms and environment.
Response (4)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Holly Reigh 16801 PennDot has restarted their plans to finish connecting a four-lane 322 from Harrisburg to interstate 80. There are 8 potential alignments that they are choosing between. Three of the alignments could significantly impact Calvary. One of those three would go right through the middle of the main facility at Harvest Fields. Alignment #4 would go directly through Calvary Harvest Fields. Please do not consider Alignment #4 through the 322 corridor as an alternative for the connector to interstate 80. Alignment #4 will be detrimental to a church that serves thousands of people in the Centre Region. Not only Alignment #4 be detrimental to our church, Calvary Harvest Fields, it will also significantly impact a growing community gathering space. With hundreds of thousands of community dollars already invested in biking and hiking trails, disc golf, a park, ball fields, and other public use spaces, this 100 acre plot is more than just a church, it is a community space. Alignment #4 will impact the Tussey mountain area and the public use of Rothrock State Forest. Alignment #4 will impact businesses and Harris Township significantly. Alignment #4 will be costly to the community and PennDot because of the value of the space. It is Alignment #4 that will close Calvary Harvest Fields, but again we suggest that the 144 routes will impact the least number of people, homes and businesses. During these challenge times due to COVID. Calvary Church in the area surrounding has been instrumental in keeping the community together and supporting families.
Response (7)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
Lilliard Richardson 16801 Our house and neighborhood (Centre Hills) backs up to 322 (in the finished section by Lemont and by Dalevue Park). The truck noise is already a serious problem for our neighborhood and especially our house and others backing up to 322, and it is getting worse. All of the 322 alternatives will simply funnel more trucks into our section of highway so I am opposed to all of those options, and the updates to the current 322 seem like the very worst options as they will damage the Boalsburg community. The 144 options would take more of the truck traffic up to I-99 and I-80, and they would affect far fewer residents. The 144 option would also enhance traffic safety. Also, we need noise reduction walls along our stretch of 322 (Centre Hills neighborhood and Lemont) as soon as possible, and it should be part of any plan that affects 322. A prohibition on brake retarders would also help considerably.
Response (7)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-8: The scope of this SCAC PEL Study does not include a reinvestigation of highway traffic noise and/or mitigation strategies associated with the Mt Nittany Expressway. PennDOT policy does not provide for highway traffic noise analyses associated with an existing roadway for which no improvement work is taking place. However, several residential communities and noise-sensitive land uses have been identified adjacent to the eastern portion of the Mt Nittany Expressway where some of the proposed improvement corridors would tie into the expressway and these areas would be evaluated as part of future noise analyses if the proposed transportation improvement alternatives carried forward into the NEPA process would include improvements in the vicinity of the communities. In areas where traffic noise impacts are identified, noise mitigation (i.e., noise walls) will be evaluated for feasibility and reasonableness.
NR-9: Truck traffic noise caused by the use of compression release brakes or 'Jake Brakes' is not effectively reduced through the use of concrete noise barriers and it has been found that compression release brake noise is best addressed by local legislation and strict enforcement of that legislation. However, major transportation improvements that accommodate truck traffic patterns, reduce traffic congestion, minimize steep grades, and better manage traffic exiting and entering the roadway may reduce the need for truckers to use compression release brakes to slow down and therefore reduce the noise caused by their use.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-3: Future year traffic volume forecasts for the study reflect what the CCMPO and municipalities in the region anticipate for future growth in population and employment demographics relative to current zoning and approved or anticipated development. (Growth and development are handled at the local level not controlled by PennDOT.)
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
Lisa Richardson 16801 I fully support any of the 144 family of construction projects for the State College Connector Road Project. I support this option because it will reduce noise and pollution generated by regional truck traffic on 322. In addition, traffic accidents and traffic fatalities are reduced the most with this option. In addition, I respectfully request that noise barriers/walls be installed on 322 near the Centre Hills/Dalevue neighborhood, where noise pollution is overwhelming.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-8: The scope of this SCAC PEL Study does not include a reinvestigation of highway traffic noise and/or mitigation strategies associated with the Mt Nittany Expressway. PennDOT policy does not provide for highway traffic noise analyses associated with an existing roadway for which no improvement work is taking place. However, several residential communities and noise-sensitive land uses have been identified adjacent to the eastern portion of the Mt Nittany Expressway where some of the proposed improvement corridors would tie into the expressway and these areas would be evaluated as part of future noise analyses if the proposed transportation improvement alternatives carried forward into the NEPA process would include improvements in the vicinity of the communities. In areas where traffic noise impacts are identified, noise mitigation (i.e., noise walls) will be evaluated for feasibility and reasonableness.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Paul Rito 16801 1. Consider bike paths along corridors - all options 2. An option not presented tonight - make 322 from Boalsburg to Tusseyville one way eastbound, then new construction from Tusseyville to 45 and 45 then bring 1 way westbound. Basically following 322-1, 2 and 3 into Tusseyville and 322-3 to intersection with 2003. Lots of savings in land acquisition, use of a lot of existing row, etc. Probably need a few more connecting roads between 322 and 45 to provide local access. 3. Valley options preferred vs. going to the ridges to preserve forest.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
James Rosenberger 16801 Please send me information why PennDOT isn't considering a tunnel. I propose an alternative along 144, through the northeast of Centre Hall then a TUNNEL through the mountain the I-99 connection. The quarry owners would pay for the work (and could do the excavation). The 144 route would be shorter and keep the trucks going west on I-80 out of the State College bypass. Football traffic would have an equal travel time versus following the existing 322 corridor.
Response (7)
AR/E-12: A tunnel alternative was dismissed from previous studies due to initial construction and long term maintenance costs. Other current factors that would deem tunneling as infeasible include excessive impacts to the existing underground mining operations and quarries, and the probability of encountering pyritic material during blasting and excavation operations. The cost of handling and disposal or treatment of the pyritic material would be factored into the costs of this alternative. Additionally, trucks carrying hazardous materials would not be allowed to traverse the tunnel, therefore would remain on the local roadway network.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
GC-14: In accordance with federal and state rules, regulations, and guidance, prior to advancing a single alternative for construction, the transportation development process must be followed. This process includes development and evaluation of a range of alternatives and the assessment of impacts and benefits for each alternative. This information is used by FHWA and PennDOT as a basis for making informed decisions on what transportation improvements to advance. Once an improvement is selected, final engineering design is necessary to refine the project-specific plans to identify right-of-way needs and be detailed enough to construct the project. When a project is ready for construction, PennDOT must follow and adhere to a prescriptive bid process that does not allow PennDOT to provide specific entities construction projects or portions of a construction project without going through the competitive bid process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
David Schulte 16801 Road improvements increase traffic volumes. Unfortunately, they also decrease the quality of life of the folks living near the road. The single largest detractor to that quality of life is the noise and pollution from the trucks using the road. Improving Rt. 144 so that it can safely be used by the trucks passing thru would have a two fold benefit: 1. it reduces the truck traffic on Rt. 322 thereby reducing the noise and air pollution in the heavily populated State College area. 2. It makes the truckers lives better because they could more quickly get to I-99/I-80 - which is where most want to go. Currently trucks are prohibited from using Rt. 144. Fix this and you get the gratitude of both the local residents and the trucker community.
Response (8)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-3: Future year traffic volume forecasts for the study reflect what the CCMPO and municipalities in the region anticipate for future growth in population and employment demographics relative to current zoning and approved or anticipated development. (Growth and development are handled at the local level not controlled by PennDOT.)
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
Asa Tait 16801 Hello, I'd like to register my opposition to the options 322-1, 322-4, and 322-5 on the basis that those run through not only several family farms, but also would severely alter the appeal of the recreational area at Tussey mountain where not just skiing but also music festivals and other community events are currently held, as well as that entrance to Rothrock.
Response (5)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Jeremy Trethewey 16801 Thank you for providing an opportunity to comment on the State College Area Connector PennDOT Project. As a resident of Harris Township, I would like to express my (and my wife's) opinion that the US322 options (upgrade existing and the 5 alternative options) would have significant downsides as effectively expressed in the Township's comments. While PennDOT would still need to minimize environmental and social impacts of a route near PA144, we believe these options would be far less disruptive and more effectively meet the objectives that PennDOT has articulated for the project.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Larry Walker 16801 I am in real estate. I think the properties that are not taken but are immediately contiguous need to be considered when weighing the overall economic impact. If a property value by virtue of the new road, loses 50% market value, they should be compensated. If I had a vote, I would vote for 144 alignment. I understand trucks may not want to go over Centre Hall Mountain. I would require them to unless they are going to State College or south on 99.
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
ROW 1: Acquisition costs and anticipated impacts to properties are only a few of the many factors that are considered in future studies when identifying a preferred alternative.
ROW 4: When appraising properties under the Eminent Domain Code in Pennsylvania, any market value increases or decreases due to general knowledge of a future transportation project are not considered in the Before Value (e.g., fair market value) of the property being acquired. In other words, the Before Value is the property’s fair market value if the project was not being implemented. Any increase or decrease in market value due to property acquisition is considered in the After Value (e.g., property value following implementation of the transportation project) of the property and compensation and/or damages paid following negotiations, accordingly. Additionally, perceived project damages or benefits attributed to the whole community are not considered in the After Value nor to other properties without acquisitions in the community. Essentially, PennDOT is not allowed to reimburse for an assumed decrease in property value (e.g., damages) for any property that is not directly acquired by the project. Community impacts related to viewshed and noise concerns are assessed and mitigated through means other than financial compensation
T-11: PennDOT does not have the authority to require or prohibit trucks or any motor vehicle to follow a specific route on the State Highway System. Nor can PennDOT prohibit trucks or any motor vehicle to use any roadway on the State Highway System without just cause such as low bridge clearance, posted loads, or extreme grades and curvature which poses a safety threat for certain types of vehicles. PennDOT design manuals provide for safe, multi-modal use of its facilities.
Lorie Waters 16801 I am extremely concerned with the option that would expand the existing General Potter Highway stretch to 4 lanes, as well as the options paralleling the existing road along the base of Rothrock State Forest. The effect that these options would have on one local farm, Tait Farm (amongst other neighboring farms) is devastating. As friends of one of the farm families, and as frequent Tait Farm customers for produce, Christmas trees, and other Harvest Shop items, the negative impact that this project could have on this local treasure is hard to overstate. Tait Farm is an extremely important part of our local State College/Centre County farming community, and it would be terrible to lose their land to this project. Please consider an alternate route that would not have such devastating effects on this farm and the surrounding farmlands, homes, and businesses.
Response (4)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Cindy Way 16801 Please eliminate option 4. The property at Harvest Fields is an invaluable community recreational resource. It is not simply a church, but a recreational facility that serves hundreds of people every week. From a brand new state of the art mountain biking trail, to an elaborate frisbee golf course, to swimming, fishing and hiking, skiing, ice-skating and snowshoeing. This property offers four season recreational activities as well as a vibrant, community-supporting church that opens it's doors and property to all of the community no strings attached. It would be a great blow to our town if this resource were lost.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Linda Westrick 16801 The Oak Hall/Linden Hall connector roads will have a bigger impact to productive farms compared to the other options. Those corridors go through the middle of Brush Valley historic district, which will permanently alter the rural nature of the district. The Oak Hall/Linden Hall connector will likely have more problems with sinkholes, leading to pollution of the Cedar Run Springs near Linden Hall. There could be perpetual issues with sediment going into a sinkhole and coming out of the spring. Interchanges near the stream are not a good choice. This problem may be difficult to identify and fix and it would be a visible eyesore for Cedar Run or Spring Creek.
Response (7)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-13: As the Build Alternative corridors are further refined, specific topographic sensitivities (e.g., sinkholes) will be evaluated and avoided, where feasible. There are known sinkholes and general karst topography throughout the study area. Treatment of potential sinkholes will be built into cost estimates.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
David Wise 16801 Do not build #4 and #5 on the Mountain. Ruins visual and ecological of this corridor. Not necessary to scar this valley like Bald Eagle Valley. Do #1, #2 or #3. Make it as short as possible!
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
Chris & Lisa Gamble 16801 The only logical on considerable route for the road is one that disturbs the fewest dwellings and places of business - the fewest lives and livelihoods. The 144 corridor is that route, not the current 322 corridor. The name State College Connectors is misleading and misrepresents the core traffic matter: long distance truck traffic accessing I-80. Only a portion, a small portion of traffic is connecting to State College. The majority, by tonnage is moving through the region on its way to I-80. PennDOT map sourcing for these preliminary plans is out of date and therefore renders the plans inaccurate and ineffective.
Response (5)
GC-3: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and in coordination with the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), is conducting this SCAC PEL Study. This SCAC PEL Study is a collaborative and integrated study approach to transportation planning that considers the environment, community, and local and regional economic goals early in the planning phase of transportation decision making. Planning decisions and outcomes will inform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process for the independent transportation project(s) identified during the PEL Study. This PEL Study will identify transportation problems and improvement solutions within a 70-square mile geographic area for planning purposes. This PEL Study will consider a range of transportation alternatives to address the various problems throughout the study area. The final PEL report will document all the study findings including the rationale for identifying what transportation projects to be advanced for further environmental and engineering investigations. As this PEL Study is looking at a broad geographic area, the study name was established by PennDOT to convey the general location of the study area and not a specific roadway termini or destination of any future transportation improvement project that will be proposed during the PEL Study.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
T-8: Automobiles comprise approximately 80% of the traffic on the US 322, PA 45, and PA 144 corridors in the study area. More information regarding the breakdown of total traffic and truck traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build Alternative can be found in the Final Purpose and Need for the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study report on the study website (www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC or at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Documents/SCAC-Purpose-And-Need.pdf ). This information is specifically in section 2.4.1 Traffic Volumes. A summary of the Origin and Destination study information is also located in this report in Section 2.4.2 Origin-Destination. The public meeting display boards presented a summary of traffic for the years 2017 and 2050 for the No-Build, Build Alternatives, and the Upgrade Existing Alternative. A summary for the O&D information was also provided. These display boards can be found on the study website or at the following link https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/SCAC/Pages/Virtual-Public-Meeting-September-21.aspx.
Jason Ponish 16802 One of the plans (4) runs right through my place of work. This property also houses a ton of outdoor rec for our community. It is one of the most beautiful places for residents of all ages together and enjoy the outdoors or church. I would hate to see the beautiful Pennsylvania land turned into a 4 lane road.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Janet Swim 16802 Route 144 Despite not being in my personal best interest to argue against route 144 for the new path for 322, I have serious concerns about the long-term environmental impacts of putting the road there. There are environmental concerns along 322. However, cutting at least an 80-foot road through the mountains is a major impact on the land. It contributes to habitat fragmentation that is increasing across the nation and strikingly in the Northeast. These routes would isolate the southern half of the forested lands. If a road goes along route 144 in the mountain, there must be wildlife corridors. The corridors, I assume, would increase the cost of the road. Better yet would be a tunnel, but I guess this is not even being considered because of the cost to build and maintain. Yet even with corridors, there will be concentrated stormwater runoff that would damage water quality. Loss of trees would destroy numerous habitats and remove a significant source of carbon dioxide sequestration contributing to climate change. Route 322. My preferences are as follows. Worst Route 5 Route 1 Route 4 Route 3 Route 2 Best Routes 1 and 5: The livability in neighborhoods along these routes would be seriously impaired by Routes 1 and 5, with these areas having experienced growth in the last decade. Both of these routes also have Section 8 housing considerations. The increase in noise pollution and exhaust pollutants from cars and large trucks and the visual site of cars and the lights throughout the night will be exhausting and damaging to mental, social, and physical health. Nobody wants the highway in their backyard. But the increase in the number and density of housing on the outskirts of Boalsburg near the business and local 322 interchange has been increasing and argues against these routes. Route 1 is preferable to Route 5 because route 5 would appear to increase habitat fragmentation and have slightly more negative impacts on wetlands. If either one of these two routes is chosen, they will require sound barriers because of the increased noise pollution in the area. I assume this is an additional cost to road construction as well. Route 4: Although less forest destruction from Route 4 than along 144, Route 4 shares the same problem of habitat fragmentation and loss of forest. Moreover, like Route 1 and 5, it presents a loss to wetlands. It would also trap people living between what would be the old and new 322 (i.e., between two busy roads) because the projections seem to indicate that people will still use the old 322 as other people using what would be the new 322. Route 2 and 3 appear to be the best options. Although route 2 seems better than Route 3 because it disturbs viewer existing neighborhoods than Route 3. Compensation. I also wanted to make a note of an issue regarding compensation to homeowners. I was informed that PennDot could require a part of my land to be bought for the road. If they take part of my land, I want them to take all of it. I do not want the road to be that near to my house. But I was told that expanding such a purchase would not be allowed. I was also told that I could be compensated for the depreciation of the value of my home. However, it is not clear how many properties would be included in such depreciation. For instance, Route 1 and 5 would clearly depreciate the value of my house. But route 4 could as well, even though it would not be right next to my house. Opportunity. Last, I would like those planning and constructing the road to not only consider which route would create the least damage but which route could contribute the most to the quality of living in the area. For instance, whatever option is selected, the road should include consideration of enhancing bicycle paths and public transportation, making it easier and more desirable than car transportation.
Response (13)
AR/E-11: The proposed Build Alternatives are essentially corridors that future alignments could be developed within if the alternative is advanced for further study. The information in the environmental comparison matrices are not actual impact tallies but simply identify resources that are found within the various corridors. Should the alternative be advanced for further study, preliminary engineering activities would occur to define a limit of disturbance associated with the proposed project as well as any additional local road improvements and mitigation measures that would need to occur as a result of the proposed project.
AR/E-12: A tunnel alternative was dismissed from previous studies due to initial construction and long term maintenance costs. Other current factors that would deem tunneling as infeasible include excessive impacts to the existing underground mining operations and quarries, and the probability of encountering pyritic material during blasting and excavation operations. The cost of handling and disposal or treatment of the pyritic material would be factored into the costs of this alternative. Additionally, trucks carrying hazardous materials would not be allowed to traverse the tunnel, therefore would remain on the local roadway network.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
NR-7: PennDOT’s environmental review process includes consideration of wildlife and their habitats. Field surveys to complete wildlife habitat assessments will be completed as part of the detailed NEPA studies. These efforts may also include species presence/absence surveys. Impacts to wildlife habitat will not only consider habitat loss but also potential fragmentation. It is recognized that habitat fragmentation results in smaller unconnected areas that can reduce the quality of the remaining habitat and wildlife movement. In particular, a new highway on new alignment may create a barrier that not only removes and fragments habitat within the roadway’s limits of disturbance but may also cut off natural wildlife corridors. This in turn can present an obstacle that leads to vehicle/wildlife collisions. Fragmentation can also encourage the expansion of non-native species and predation. Some wildlife species, including neotropical migrant bird species, are highly dependent on what is referred to as interior forests to thrive. The SCAC PEL Study initiated coordination with federal and state resource agencies and that coordination will continue during the next phase of detailed studies. Of special note is the response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated February 17, 2021) that identified potential concerns with migratory bird species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Efforts will be made to design proposed transportation improvements to minimize habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition, mitigation measures will be considered during design to reduce adverse effects. These could include incorporating wildlife crossing/corridors in the roadway design to allow wildlife to travel between existing viable habitats. Wildlife crossings that may be considered are vegetated bridges or tunnels or oversized stream culverts that include a dry pathway parallel to the stream channel. These measures would not only promote safe passage for wildlife but would also reduce the potential for vehicle/wildlife collisions that makes the roadway safer for the travelling public. It is anticipated that impacts to wildlife habitats will require compensatory mitigation. This mitigation can be in the form of land acquisition for habitat preservation and/or restoration of disturbed lands to a natural state.
ROW 1: Acquisition costs and anticipated impacts to properties are only a few of the many factors that are considered in future studies when identifying a preferred alternative.
ROW 5: Depreciation will be considered by the appraiser for each property. All owners being relocated will be assigned a relocation specialist who will help throughout the process. This includes a pre-acquisition survey being completed to consider their needs and wishes for a replacement dwelling. During this pre-acquisition meeting the relocation specialist also reviews with each relocate all the Benefits for which they would qualify.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Anita Bailey 16803 Please do not consider the routes that will impact Calvary Harvest Fields. The church is very important to the people that attend there. But even more than that, the church does incredible things for the community, many of which involve the land. We have free events, allow local sports teams to use the fields, allow people to park in the parking lot when needed, have outdoor weddings, host tournaments, use the parking lot for large food distributions, etc. People regularly go there to use the newly built bike trails, hike, play disc golf, have competitions, fish, swim in ponds, have campfires, watch sunsets. Come out and visit on a Saturday, Sunday, or nice evening and experience it yourself. Although most of it is private property, the church welcomes the community to come and enjoy the space. Impacting this property goes far beyond just impacting those that attend the church.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Cynthia Carpenter 16803 After viewing the information I recommend: 1. Divided highway over Centre Hall mountain, to handle the through car and truck traffic. 2. Upgrade 322 from Lewistown to State College for employment when traffic is heavy during non daylight/sunset/sunrise hours, this road is extremely dangerous because of headlight glare and lack of visibility because of switching from cone to rod vision or vice versa.
Response (2)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Dean Christian 16803 I work in Harris township and do not support the connector options that would place an interchange in Boalsburg. 322-4 options is especially bad because it would come right through the middle of our church (Calvary Church). The Calvary property is also home to a mountain bike course which my kids love to bike on and a disc golf course which gets a lot of use by the community. I would like to see 322 widened between Boalsburg and Potters Mills, but not at the expense of the Calvary property.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Elizabeth Christopher 16803 When planning your route from Harrisburg to I80, please do not tear up or change the Harvest Fields property or Tussey Mountain Ski Resort. The Harvest Fields property is an amazing resource for our community, offering free biking, hiking, disc golf and more. My whole family enjoys this location, and the work that has gone into it is amazing. I know that Harvest Fields is planning even more biking and hiking trails in the future. It's a wonderful place, don't ruin it! Thank you
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
NULL ClearWater Conservancy 16803 ClearWater Conservancy is a locally founded nationally accredited Land Trust organization that has been serving central Pennsylvania through land conservation, water resources stewardship, and environmental outreach efforts since 1980. Our work is guided by the ClearWater Compass, a strategic and science-based vision to connect, protect, restore, and steward priority landscapes and habitats for healthy people, land, water, and wildlife resources. The State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkage Study Area includes several of ClearWater’s land conservation and riparian restoration projects that have been completed throughout ClearWater’s history. Significantly, several ClearWater projects directly in the path of one or more of the nine proposed alternatives or corridors identified in the PEL Study. While traffic safety is of utmost public concern, and we support efforts to improve safety, ClearWater is opposed to any alternative which harms the natural resources the organization has worked diligently to connect, protect, restore and steward. For over forty years, landowners have relied on ClearWater for assistance with realizing their conservation goals for their properties through conservation easements, land ownership, forest management strategies, and other efforts to permanently protect local streams, wildlife, and forests. Since 1986, ClearWater has permanently conserved or facilitated the conservation of over 9,500 acres of land. Since 2004, ClearWater has planted and managed over 23 miles of streamside forest along local streams in partnership with community support and help from thousands of volunteers. Many of these projects (both land conservation and riparian restoration) were funded through grants from state agencies. For example, our landowner agreements for riparian restoration often require reimbursement to state agencies should the buffer be converted to an alternative use. Additionally, utilization of eminent domain to convert property with conservation easements comes with complication. Following an intense campaign by WeConservePA (formerly the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association) and allies, Governor Tom Wolf signed HG 2468 into law as Act 45 of 2018. The Act created crucial conservation safeguards and established Pennsylvania as the nation's leader in protecting conservation easements from the irresponsible exercise of eminent domain. Behind the law is a respect for the generous acts of civic-minded donors and recognition for the value of non-regulatory property rights-based tool that keeps land in private ownership while achieving conservation objectives. Conservation easements are a distinct property interest in real estate, separate from the property interest of the underlying land. Developing a new or expanded roadway on a conserved property requires condemning the conservation easement. In many cases, the value of those development rights restricted by the conservation easement may be worth significantly more than the underlying land. While the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits taking of private property without just compensation, Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution goes even further to protect conservation easements. In Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, a plurality of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found, “{a}t present, the concept of public natural resources includes not only state-owned lands, waterways, and mineral reserves, but also resources that implicate the public interest, such as ambient air, surface and groundwater, wild flora, and fauna (including fish) that are outside the scope of purely private property.” 83A.3d 901, 955 (Pa. 2013). The public natural resources protected by Section 27 certainly include the resources and conservation values protected, restored, and stewarded by ClearWater Conservancy. It is important that state disease like PennDOT are not responsible for upending the public’s expectations that their beloved conserved places are protected for perpetuity. Especially in light of Pennsylvania's constitutional rights to preservation of the environment, it’s only reasonable that alternatives to taking easements, which were established pursuant to strong public policy, are vigorously explored and pursued. ClearWater is already in contact with your office to share data identifying each of our projects within the PEL Study Area. We await the GIS data from PennDOT to fully identify the impacts of these proposed corridors on conserved and restored properties. Until then, we aren't able to fully identify impacts to our projects within the proposed corridors. Using currently available data, we see potential impacts to the following: • Nittany Noll Conservation Easement – The Route 144 alternatives all seemingly would affect this 452-acre property in Spring Township which ClearWater conserved in December 2017. The conservation easement is within the Spring Creek watershed and seeks to protect critical water resources including numerous springs and seeps, wetlands, and headwater streams, as well as habitat for Native Species dependent on those resources; • Oelberman Riparian Buffer – The Route 322 alternatives may affect this approximately 6-acre riparian buffer project along the Sharer Road in Harris Township that was completed with partners including the Natural Resources Conservation Program, the Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce topsoil loss, reduce erosion and sedimentation in Spring Creek and reduce Township maintenance costs to Sharer Road; • Mt. View Riparian Buffer - the Route 322 alternatives may affect this riparian buffer project along Elks Club Road in Harris Township; • Nittany Farms Conservation Easement – The 322-1 and 322-3 alternatives may both affect this 287-acre property in Harris Township which ClearWater conserved in December 1990. The Stone farmhouse on the property was built in 1840 and 180 years later, the property is still in active agriculture. Nittany Farms was once owned by Dr. and Mrs. William Henning. Dr. Henning was the Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. the property protects approximately 3,700 linear feet of Spring Creek, only 1.5 miles from the eastern-most headwater springs of the main stem of Spring Creek. It also contains the historic Old Standford cemetery. There is also a Nittany Farm Riparian Buffer at Sharer Road; • Tussey View Conservation Easement – The 322-4 and 322-5 alternatives may both affect this 189-acre property in Potter Township conserved by ClearWater in November 2009. The Property contains the headwaters of the main stem of Spring Creek, consisting of multiple springs on the property. The Property also contains approximately 122 acres of mixed hardwood fore and 67 acres of early successional habitat. The Property’s conservation value is further increased because it is adjacent to, and provide public access to, Rothrock State Forest. This is also the site of major riparian buffer project that restores and protects the headwaters of Spring Creek. Notably, Spring Creek is designate a High-Quality Water, and as such is protected from antidegradation under the Clean Stream Law (35 P.S §§ 691.5 and 691.402) as defined in 25 Pa. Code § 93.4a. In addition to ClearWater’s specific projects, the organization is also concerned about impacts to other important natural resources within the Study Area. For example, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Sites (e.g. J-4 Cave, Potter Run Wetland, Sinking Creek Wetlands, and Galbraith Gap Headwater Seeps) support plant and wildlife species, communities and rare species of conservation concern and should be avoided. Similarly, groundwater resources are located throughout the Study Area and recharge areas should be protected. Finally, from a landscape perspective, it is important to consider how each of the proposed alternatives may increase fragmentation of habitat and reduce biodiversity while also planning for how to avoid harm. While we understand there will be some environmental impact associated with any selected alternative, ClearWater expects there will be a comprehensive strategy and plan for minimizing the impacts and mitigating for known loss. Overall, we are interested in cooperating with PennDOT and consultants to provide details about the locations and terms of ClearWater’s conservation easements and riparian restoration projects and willing to provide any local assistance required to evaluate potential impacts to ClearWater’s projects, as well as other preserved properties, and critical natural resources in the PEL Study Area. Sincerely, Ryan Hamilton, Esq. Land Conservation Manager
Response (4)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Custom Response: The SCAC Study’s GIS data and mapping have been updated with the most current Conservation Easement data provided by Clearwater Conservancy. The data and mapping will also be updated for the Riparian Buffer Projects once the more defined location information is provided for the projects (currently provided information includes tax parcels and not stream segments). Also, when the corridor alternatives are refined into alternative designs, PennDOT will coordinate directly with the Conservancy and property owners to confirm potential impacts to easements and Riparian Buffer Projects.
NULL ClearWater Conservancy 16803 I am the GIS contractor for ClearWater Conservancy in State College. I’m hoping that you can help me. I have been reviewing your materials regarding the State College Connector project on the PennDOT website. On the graphic titled “19_Level-2B-Screening-Alt-Overview you display the proposed alternative corridors for US 322 and PA 144. I would like to get these various alignments in GIS formatted files (preferably shapefiles). Can you either send them to me or direct me to where I can download them myself. -Joe Bishop
Response (1)
Custom Response: The SCAC Study’s GIS data and mapping have been updated with the most current Conservation Easement data provided by Clearwater Conservancy. The data and mapping will also be updated for the Riparian Buffer Projects once the more defined location information is provided for the projects (currently provided information includes tax parcels and not stream segments). The GIS contractor has asked for the GIS shapefiles of the currently defined corridor alternatives to calculate impacts. We do not think the shapefiles should be provided since they are broad corridors at this time and we also do not recommend providing future alternative shapefiles to entities or the general public. This could lead to others conducting impact analysis and possibly misusing the files. We believe that once we are developing more detailed alternatives, we could meet with these entities at a public meeting as part of the public involvement process to explain (and demonstrate) how we are conducting impact analyses for various resources.
Christian Dean 16803 I work in Harris township and do not support the connector options that would place an interchange in Boalsburg. 322-4 options is especially bad because it would come right through the middle of our church (Calvary Church). The Calvary property is also home to a mountain bike course which my kids love to bike on and a disc golf course which gets a lot of use by the community. I would like to see 322 widened between Boalsburg and Potters Mills, but not at the expense of the Calvary property.
Response (6)
AR/E-14: Interchange locations providing local access to the Build Alternative are currently indicated conceptually to aid with completion of the traffic model. Future NEPA phase of any project(s) that develops from the PEL Study would refine interchange locations and update the design to reflect ramp geometry and lane configuration accordingly. Additionally, constructability and local roadway access will be considered during the refinement of the alternatives. Costs and impacts associated with temporary roadways or interim improvements would be considered in detail during the NEPA phase for any alternative advanced. In this PEL Study, maintenance of traffic during construction will not be designed and would only be included as a cost estimate for planning purposes.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Galen Dreibelbis 16803 I am writing to express my view on the proper road location of Rt. 322 from Potters Mills to State College. 322-1 is the only logical choice. This was the old Y-6 Route. You must build a road where people want to go. This route is the shortest route and probably the least expensive in property damage and road construction cost and it is all going in the right direction. Road construction could be achieved with least interruption of present Rt. 322. Old 322 could be used as future access road. It would require the least number of bridges. Four small bridges over 2 lane roads will small number of traffic. Please don't build the road to Pleasant Gap because it will not alleviate the 322 traffic and safety problem as nearly every one will still travel old 322 to State College. Also, trucks travel on two issues: distance and hills. The route I suggest is the most damaging to me which I wish didn't happen because it will take 2 or 3 of my pieces of land. However, if it is the right place for a route, I will understand, but don't take my land if it is not the best route.
Response (5)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
ROW 1: Acquisition costs and anticipated impacts to properties are only a few of the many factors that are considered in future studies when identifying a preferred alternative.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Jason Kaye 16803 I strongly oppose any of the alternative corridors for 322. I agree with the input from Harris Township Board of Supervisors on all fronts. I support upgrading the existing 322 corridor. None of the PennDOT materials support the assertion that high peak hour traffic volumes cause unacceptable congestion. My direct experience is that 322 is crowded only 5 times per year, during home football games and there is no justification for a large, limited access highway on 322. Furthermore, a larger highway in this area will destroy one of our greatest amenities - the mixed use bucolic landscape. It will also decrease amenities for local car, bike and pedestrian activity, effectively cutting our valley in two. Consider that the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historical District will be degraded by some of these alternative corridors, and the Rothrock State Forest will be degraded by others. These features, our forests and farms are the heart of our community. They make the area a great place to live, and a major highway will degrade our quality of life. The benefits don’t outweigh the costs, the existing 322 corridor should be made safer. Your report says that the current roadway doesn’t meet driver expectations. Which drivers? The data emphasize the % truck traffic is high. But that doesn’t mean total volume is high. And our community be degraded to make it faster for trucks.
Response (13)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-2: Addressing congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadway network have been identified as needs of the study. Relative to traffic, the purpose of this project is to identify improvement alternative(s) and to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of each in addressing these needs. However, traffic is only one consideration which must be assessed when evaluating the impact and benefit of new transportation improvement. Alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the study while balancing the potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and built environmental and is cost effective will be advanced for further consideration for preliminary engineering and detailed environmental investigations (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase analysis).
Rebecca Martin 16803 I came expecting to strongly advocate to not use option 4, which, passes through the Harvest Fields property which is beautiful, well-used and enjoyed destination for many in the region, as well as home to Calvary Church which is a force for good in our community. I have appreciated the beauty and the points of connection this land offers to all who come. In being here, I recognize the complexity of this decision and will pray for the planners and all impacted. Thank you for a well done presentation.
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Ezra Nanes 16803 Thank you for the opportunity to provide input and for all of the detail you've made available to understand the potential scope of this proposed project. The goal of any project should be to improve the quality of life for those who will be impacted by it. SR322 is a difficult road to drive, and I appreciate the need for improvements. These should be made regardless of the final project form. The most important thing this project can do is recognize the importance of the cultural, recreational and commercial assets impacted, and work to not only minimize damage to them, but to provide enhancement to them. I am against any alignment along the 322 corridor because they all destroy important regional assets. There are many people who share this point of view. Bear Meadows Road: 322-4 runs right across Bear Meadows Road, the primary gateway to Rothrock State Forest in this area. Tussey Mountain Ski Area - It passes very close to the base of Tussey Mountain Ski area. This would degrade or destroy the hugely important local commercial, cultural and recreational asset. HFCT, Climb Nittany: 322-4 runs right over (and would destroy) the brand new Harvest Fields Community Trail Network and Climb Nittany, two local recreational, health assets that are important to the future of this region. Linden Hall/Brush Valley Road/PA Bike Route/Oak Hall Regional Park - 322-2 and 322-3 - The other alignments along 322 that run near Brush Valley Road and Linden Hall run right through an area of spectacular scenic beauty - lands and experiences that are irreplaceable. Some of the most beautiful biking is to be found there. Our community does not want to see them destroyed. Bike Infrastructure: one of the best ways to build support for this project and ensure that it has a long term positive impact on the communities of Centre County is to allocate a significant percentage of the budget to building bicycle infrastructure on the scale of the highway itself. Make bike infrastructure a central part of the vision. A separated bike lane running the full length of 322 from Potters Mills all the way to 99 would be a tremendous benefit to the community, enable biking and e-biking (an important facet of the future of mobility) for transportation, thereby reducing pressure on roads and parking and making regional resources more accessible to many people. Sinking the road below grade: another way to minimize the negative impacts of the project is to sink the highway below grade in a kind of trough. This reduces visual and noise impacts and allows for easier conveyance across the highway in the form of bridges at grade. Near Knokke in Belgium (where my wife is from) I have seen a project like this in the midst of the some of the most beautiful farmland, and the aesthetic of the region was greatly benefited by it. The region invested in preserving the natural/pastoral environment while improving transportation infrastructure. Bikes as well can easily pass over. In other locations, bikes can easily pass under highways. Perhaps the defining aspect of the Centre Region, and certainly one of the elements that makes this area so special, is its scenic and pastoral beauty, and this must be preserved at any cost. It must be a priority to preserve what is here, because once destroyed it cannot be reclaimed. I favor an alignment along 144 for this project OR an improvement to existing roadways on both 322 and 144. I know that many will also oppose the 144 alignments because of impacts to regional assets. I appreciate and respect this point of view as well. There are however, potentially less assets destroyed on that route, outside of farmland. (Below grade highway options help that problem.) This project, if it moves forward, will affect the future of this area for many decades, and I appreciate that you are taking the time to hear from the public and make the feedback a key part of any planning process.
Response (13)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-3: The Build Alternative corridors presented were developed, in part, from previous transportation studies conducted in the area. The Build Alternative corridors were evaluated for compliance with current design standards along with potential impacts to existing natural, cultural, and built environment. Some location modifications were necessary to avoid parks and minimize potential impacts on residential and business properties that were not present or as fully developed when the corridors were previously proposed. Adjustments to vertical grades, horizontal curvature and other parameters were also considered to reduce potential impacts, lessen depth of excavation or embankment, and better balance earthwork. In addition to reviewing previously developed alternatives, new corridor routes were investigated to determine if other alternatives could be designed and located with less disturbance or lessen the potential impact to critical features. Any Build Alternative corridor advanced must satisfy the project Purpose and Needs and comply with appropriate design speeds and other design specifications/requirements.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-3: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and in coordination with the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), is conducting this SCAC PEL Study. This SCAC PEL Study is a collaborative and integrated study approach to transportation planning that considers the environment, community, and local and regional economic goals early in the planning phase of transportation decision making. Planning decisions and outcomes will inform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process for the independent transportation project(s) identified during the PEL Study. This PEL Study will identify transportation problems and improvement solutions within a 70-square mile geographic area for planning purposes. This PEL Study will consider a range of transportation alternatives to address the various problems throughout the study area. The final PEL report will document all the study findings including the rationale for identifying what transportation projects to be advanced for further environmental and engineering investigations. As this PEL Study is looking at a broad geographic area, the study name was established by PennDOT to convey the general location of the study area and not a specific roadway termini or destination of any future transportation improvement project that will be proposed during the PEL Study.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
Nathan Reigner 16803 Community and recreational connectivity between Boalsburg and the Tussey Mountain/Galbraith Gap area an important part of area's residential quality of life and recreation and tourism economies. Any alignment that places greater traffic or more intensive barriers to bicycle and pedestrian travel will critically and permanently degrade our quality of life and the region's attractiveness to visitors. If any alignment along the existing 322 corridor is expanded it MUST be accompanied by high quality, attractive, well maintained, and thoroughly connected off-highway bicycle and pedestrian paths.
Response (4)
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
Russ Rossman Jr. 16803 Options 322-1, 322-5, and 322-4 are going to create a construction traffic congestion nightmare since they all converge at a busy traffic area at Boalsburg. In addition 322-1/322-5 overlaps a section of the existing 322 South of Boalsburg that is used by an area of residential housing South of Boalsburg. Not only will construction of 322-1/322-5 affect access to these areas I would feeder/access roads have to be added to allow post-construction access since 322 would become a limited access highway. There are 3835 acres of agricultural land in Harris Township on both sides of the existing 322. according to your data, 322-2 and 322-3 consume about 10% of that. The loss of agricultural land may not be that significant since farmers, especially dairy farmers, are facing economic problems. While some may not like their loss of land, others may welcome a buyout. 322-2 and 322-3 Would also be least disruptive to the greatest number of people.
Response (5)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-14: Interchange locations providing local access to the Build Alternative are currently indicated conceptually to aid with completion of the traffic model. Future NEPA phase of any project(s) that develops from the PEL Study would refine interchange locations and update the design to reflect ramp geometry and lane configuration accordingly. Additionally, constructability and local roadway access will be considered during the refinement of the alternatives. Costs and impacts associated with temporary roadways or interim improvements would be considered in detail during the NEPA phase for any alternative advanced. In this PEL Study, maintenance of traffic during construction will not be designed and would only be included as a cost estimate for planning purposes.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
Karl Shellenberger 16803 My preferred alternative for the State College Area Connector would be to upgrade the existing 322 corridor. That option would have the lowest impact to environmental, historical, agricultural, archaeological, and socioeconomic resources, and it is likely the lowest cost option. If that option is not determined to be feasible, I would prefer Alternative 322-1. That option generally follows the existing route and would have fewer impacts than the other alternatives. I think there will be a huge public outcry if one of the other options is selected. Those alternatives have a much greater impact on existing homes, farms, forests, and businesses. The Route 144 options do not address the traffic issues on 322 between Boalsburg and Potters Mills, and I feel that there will still be a need to improve that section of road in the future. Many of the vehicles are headed to/from the Centre Region, especially when you consider weekend traffic. It is my understanding that the traffic studies only considered mid-week traffic which does not capture the traffic issues on weekends, especially when there is a Penn State football game or other event.
Response (8)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Michelle Stine 16803 My friends and I regularly bike and hike the trails connected to Galbraith parking lot and now the new Harvest Trails near Boalsburg. It's been a longstanding problem that there were no nearby beginner level trails where we could take friends and family who weren't ready to ride in the rootier, rockier trails in Rothrock. Both trail systems are a great community asset. On weekends the parking lot at Galbraith is usually full with other hikers, runners, dog walkers, horse riders, and bike riders. Additionally, the Coyler Lake trails created a few years ago are a destination for residents of Happy Valley to go fishing, kayaking, and swimming as well as walking, running, and biking. I believe that 322-5 has potential to affect the trails connected to Coyler Lake and that 322-4 will disrupt a major outdoor destination for our region as well as destroy the intent of the Harvest Fields Trail system. It looks like the proposed route goes right over some of the trails near the ponds. Moreover, there is now a development and businesses located in that adjacent area. While I realize that there will never be 100% agreement upon the route, I strongly urged the project to consider other less developed and less publicly used routes. I am also in favor of the 144 1, 2, and 3 options that would route the through-traffic around State College.
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Harry Ford Stryker 16803 The Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited has three comments about the State College Area Connector based upon the materials presented in public meeting: 1. Give priority to alignments that will have the least impact on water resources. this would prioritize: upgrading the existing 322 alignment, option 322-2, and the route 144 options. 2. If the alignment has to cross a stream or wetland, design the crossing to be perpendicular to the stream/wetland to minimize disruption and reduced risk. 3. Recommend the Department retain an independent environmental consultant knowledgeable in wetland ecology, to advise the Department, designers and contractors during the design and construction process.
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Custom Response: If the Build Alternative corridors are advanced for further development and evaluation, the proposed designs will be further developed to include the identification of proposed bridges and culverts at stream crossings and positioning them at more perpendicular locations, where possible. The project design team includes environmental consultants that specialize in the identification and characterization of wetlands and streams and knowledgeable in efforts to avoid and minimize impacts to wetland areas and hydrology. These specialists are also experienced in restoration measures and replacement designs to address and compensate for wetland and stream impacts that are unavoidable.
John Tessy 16803 Thank you for the detailed planning, maps and tables that are posted providing all the information about the new highway alternatives. It looks to me like the PA-144 build alternative corridor will take up a lot of socio-economic resources. To upgrade the existing 322 highway does not seem to be advantageous in the long run for reducing traffic. So, it looks like the 322 alternates are better. However, I ask to please spare the Calvary church and it's grounds in Harvest fields. The church is very actively involved with the State College, Boalsburg and student communities especially during this Covid time. The new bike paths on the grounds of the church, the lake, are well utilized by many of us and it would be a shame to see this go. The grounds provide a peaceful atmosphere for a walk or a ride over there away from a lot of noise. The church has held many services outdoors and given away truckloads of food to those who want it. The alternative corridors 322-1, 322-4 and 322-5 will significantly impact the church and everything it does for the community. As a Calvary church goer, I request kindly to avoid these alternatives to prevent the church from being impacted. Thank you for your consideration.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Drew Wild 16803 I understand that this plan to reroute 322/I99 to rt. 80 will impact many households and businesses. After reviewing all of the routes I think that extending Rt. 144 through Centre Hall seems the most logical. Proposed route #4 and 5 runs through my parents backyard and will be very close to Tussey Mountain. The other route will remove houses and the lower part of the Meadowlark Lane. In my opinion, the route going from the 144 interchange to Centre Hall would be a more direct route.
Response (6)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
Eric Loop 16804 My layman's interpretation of the data presented point me to a Rt. 322 build corridor option over 144. That's largely driven by my interpretation of traffic and environmental presentations. Which yields the questions: What am I not taking into consideration? Thanks for making the process available for review/comment.
Response (3)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Bob Cross 16823 I am concerned about what impact the proposed routes may have on waterways (I am on the board of Spring Creek chapter-trout unlimited.) So I am looking at what route will have the least impact on such waterways (Cedar Run, Spring Creek) (and Logan Branch for the proposed 144 corridor.) My feeling is the proposed 322-2 would not impact the Cedar Run and Spring Creek streams as much as the other planned routes and would be my choice for a route. The 144 route does not seem feasible in my opinion because of the mountain it would have to go over. I vote for 322-2 route!
Response (4)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
Diana Griffith 16823 As Centre County Ag. Land Preservation Coordinator, I manage the Purchase of Ag. Conservation Easement (PACE) program for the county. The program is funded by the county, state and participating municipalities. The Centre County Ag. Land Preservation Board has preserved 56 farms, a total of 8300 acres of prime farmland., and will soon have 58 preserved farms altogether. In Potter Township alone the board has preserved 10 farms and 1622 acres of farmland. The Donald and Teresa Grove Farm at 2661 Earlystown Road was preserved this year. Behind the Grove farm is the Edgar Leightley-Mary Resides farm at 2274 Upper Brush Valley Road. The county Agland Preservation Board and the PA. Dept. of Ag.'s Bureau of Farmland Preservation share these landowners concerns about the SCA Connector's potential impact on their preserved properties. Because of the commonwealth, County and Potter Township Supervisors have invested in these farms to preserve them for perpetuity, we recommend avoiding preserved farmland if possible. For a new roadway/highway prior approval is needed by the Ag Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB). PennDOT would need to prove there is prudent or reasonable alternative to taking preserved farmland, as well farmland enrolled is Ag. Security Area (ASA) for a new road. Potter Township's ASA has enrolled 11,466 acres of farmland. If work is done to existing roadway, there is no exemption from ALCAB review. In that case, however, PennDOT is still responsible for paying back the easement value for the portion being acquired. If there are no other options, then we ask PennDOT to minimize impacts to farming operations and avoid prime farmland. We appreciate your consideration. Centre County has preserved farms on Route 45 and Brush Valley Road in the SCA Connector study area. Is PennDOT aware of the restricted land in this area or do I need to provide you with that data? Thanks for providing the link to the Environmental Web Map, Marintha. In January 2021 we preserved the Donald and Teresa Grove farm at 2661 Earlystown Road, tax parcel number 20-005-,025-,0000. It’s located next to tax parcel number 20-005-,024-,0000 at 2627 Earlystown Road and should be added to your map. I can provide you with a complete list of preserved farms along the PA 45 and Brush Valley Road corridor if that will be helpful. The landowners of 20-005-,025 and also of tax parcel 20-005-,012 at 2274 Upper Brush Valley Road have been told the connector is planned to go through their properties. If I’m reading the map correctly, it appears that the connector is planned to go around these preserved farms rather than through them. Let me know if I am correct. I’m happy to send you my up-to-date Agricultural Security Area archive. All of our farms that have been preserved through the PACE program must be enrolled in an ASA of 500 acres or more – that is a minimum requirement. That is why they are showing up in the ASA layer. In my research of Centre County’s ASAs, I found that many of the Clearwater restricted lands are not in ASAs (or were taken out). I encourage you to contact Clearwater about those, or I can direct you to someone who can find out.
Response (2)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
Custom Response: Following the initial outreach from Diane Griffith, the study team reach out and provide links to study information and will continue to update information on the study webmap as the study progresses.
Stephen Logue 16823 I understand that the proposed Route #4 would obliterate Harvest Fields and the surrounding area. It would be a travesty to develop this space as it has become a beloved recreation area and event destination from the Centre County community. Harvest Fields is home to Calvary Church, which has developed its outdoor space to include a bike trail and frisbee golf course. It also hosts two ponds, open green space and a place for the public to enjoy nature. Penn State women’s Rugby has even hosted one of their marches here! Calvary is open to the public for church as well as non church events. Some business and a senior care facility also call the area home. Please do not turn this area into a road.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Jennifer Niessner 16823 Please do not consider Alignment #4 through the 322 corridor as an alternative for the connector to interstate 80. Alignment #4 will be detrimental to a church that serves thousands of people in the Centre Region. Not only Alignment #4 be detrimental to our church, Calvary Harvest Fields, it will also significantly impact a growing community gathering space. With hundreds of thousands of community dollars already invested in biking and hiking trails, disc golf, a park, ball fields, and other public use spaces, this 100 acre plot is more than just a church, it is a community space. Alignment #4 will impact the Tussey mountain area and the public use of Rothrock State Forest. Alignment #4 will impact businesses and Harris Township significantly. Alignment #4 will be costly to the community and PennDot because of the value of the space. We respectfully submit that the alignments which follow the 144 corridor will impact the least amount of homes, business and people. It is Alignment #4 that will close Calvary Harvest Fields, but again we suggest that the 144 routes will impact the least number of people, homes and businesses.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
Aaron Roos 16823 Options 322-4 and 322-5 are least desirable for the outdoor recreation community as these options will greatly impact many hiking & mountain biking trails in Harris Twp near the Harvest Fields Community Church. This option is aesthetically undesirable because of the visual impact of having a highway on the base of the Tussey ridge.
Response (5)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
SER-8: Visual impacts will be evaluated during the more detailed studies to be conducted in future NEPA studies for transportation improvement projects carried forward in the project development process. During these detailed studies, design considerations for proposed transportation improvements will be assessed to reduce visual impacts associated with the proposed improvements. This assessment will not only address efforts to avoid or minimize adverse visual impacts but also potential mitigation measures such as roadside landscaping and context sensitive designs (includes coordination with the local community and consideration of using material, forms, and finishes of highway structures to mimic, complement, or contrast with the existing cultural environment visible from the project corridor, as desired by the community).
Robert Shirey 16823 I would prefer the 144 corridor due to less impact on homes, facilities. Also the shortest distance for trucks to 80. I do especially oppose 322-4 due to the impact on Harvest Fields/Calvary Church. This is a community property that contains ponds, frisbee golf, and mountain bike trails that were recently built at a cost of over $100k. I appreciate the opportunity for input.
Response (5)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
Sandra Shirey 16823 I would prefer the 144 alternative in order to reduce truck traffic on Rte. 322 and to avoid the 322 alternatives going through Harvest Fields, Bear Meadows and Tussey Mountain. The 144 Alternative would have less negative impact on public areas and resources.
Response (6)
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
Jackie Smith 16823 Please consider choosing a route which does not disrupt Calvary Harvest Fields and the surrounding lands. The work put in to this area has allowed for a great community gathering place. It’s not just a church. Also a daycare where my children attend. The outdoor spaces have been and continue to be groomed for many activities including disc golf, biking, hiking, and fishing to name a few. The area has become a great adventure for all ages of any ability. Youth groups, moms groups, and even recreational sports teams utilize the spaces. To tear it apart to build a road would be detrimental to the community as a whole.
Response (3)
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-5: While privately owned, the Calvary Harvest Fields Church property, including the Disc Golf Course and Harvest Fields Community Trails, have been included on study mapping as a community facility given its availability to the general public. Portions of the church’s parking lot and the Harvest Fields Community Trails lie within the 322-4 Study Corridor. As the study progresses, should an alternative that has the potential to impact these trails be advanced, additional investigations will be conducted (including direct coordination with the church to further define the type, location, and extent of property resources). This information would then be used to update the project mapping, refine proposed transportation improvements to avoid/minimize adverse impacts, and identify potential solutions to mitigate impacts that could not be avoided.
Bryan Weaver 16823 1. Environmental concerns: Any modification to 322 would increase greenhouse emissions. new connection between 322 and 80 needs to be as direct as possible. The routes within Potter Township along route 144 provides a more direct connection to interstate 80, generating less greenhouse gas from trucks and cars traveling through our region. 2. Conservation and additional environmental concerns: The headwaters of both Cedar Creek and Spring Creek lie within the areas designated as potential route 322 modifications (around the Boalsburg area). Construction of the State College Connector in this area would be disruptive to those headwaters. Option 322-3 specifically impacts protected Shemp family wetlands and farmlands 3. Congestion: Route 322 is already a busy commuter road and will only become more congested as the State College area continues to grow. Co-mingling local commuter traffic and truck traffic destined for I-80 would significantly increase through traffic and would prove dangerous, not only now but in the future. 4. Disruption to homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods: All the proposed routes along 322 (322-1, 322-2, 322-3, 322-4 and 322-5) would be especially disruptive to the region and especially the Boalsburg community. Homes would be taken, neighborhoods divided, and communities destroyed. 5. Safety: The impact to the local community during football weekends and Penn State events is unimaginable. 322 and the adjoining roads are used not only by our local commuters but also by school buses carrying our children. Truck through traffic should be diverted away from residential neighborhoods as much as possible. 6. Business 322: lt is more reasonable to establish the current route 322 as a business route 322 and have the new connector go along one of the proposed Potter township routes (144). This option would allow our local businesses to continue to prosper.
Response (13)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-7: Impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). While the US 322 corridor includes many residential developments and plans for future developments, PennDOT also recognizes the rural nature of both the US 322 and the PA 144 corridors which include more dispersed rural communities relying on an agriculture economy and the viability of farm operations. Community impacts, including impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and known archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to all valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-10: Planning level traffic analyses/studies are usually based on traffic for an average day throughout the year, not on special event traffic conditions. Traffic data collected for the project was obtained while schools (local primary schools as well as secondary schools) are open. Traffic data obtained and analyzed for this study is based on daily and peak hour traffic volumes and conditions for an average day of the week (e.g., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) during a non-holiday/non-special event. If PennDOT would design to accommodate special events, the transportation projects would be excessively large to accommodate additional traffic. Any proposed transportation project would improve event traffic but would not fully address all of the event traffic needs.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
T-4: The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) safety analysis conducted on the No-Build Alternative, US 322 Build Alternatives, PA 144 Build Alternative, and the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative considers several factors that influence safety of a roadway, such as roadway geometry, traffic volumes, and traffic composition. These various factors influence the proposed safety score an alternative received which is then compared to the HSM analysis of the No Build Alternative. In general, the analysis showed that safety would not improve over the No Build Alternative for the US 322 Upgrade Existing Alternative which would in fact have more safety concerns. Both the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives would substantially improve roadway safety for all crashes and fatal and injury related crashes. PA 144 Alternatives would have a slightly higher safety score due to the overall lower traffic volumes predicted to use that roadway when compared to the US 322 Alternatives. For the SCAC PEL study, the US 322 Build Alternatives and PA 144 Build Alternatives are all considered viable alternatives as they meet the purpose and need for the Study by improving safety on the study area network.
T-6: US 322 is a primary roadway in the Centre County region, classified as a principal arterial highway. The purpose of this type of highway facility is for the safe movement of goods and people. A principal arterial typically is a type of roadway facility that provides improved mobility through a reduced number of access points (e.g., intersections, driveways). Roadways with reduced number of access points (conflict points) are typically safer facilities (e.g., have reduced number of crashes). A new facility along US 322 or PA 144 will not be designed to attract new traffic to the region. The role of any of the proposed Build Alternative corridors is to convey the anticipated 2050 traffic volumes (No Build Alternative) which are based on current travel patterns. A new four lane facility would reduce the amount of traffic (passenger vehicles and trucks) on the local roadway network by shifting traffic onto the proposed facility which would be designed to current FHWA and PennDOT design and safety standards.
T-7: Comparing the traffic analysis results of the SCAC PEL Study PA 144 Build Alternative and US 322 Build Alternative to the No Build Alternative shows that both alternatives would provide traffic operations and safety benefits, as follows: - Both Build Alternatives would reduce traffic volumes on local roadways within the study area. - Both Build Alternatives would improve safety within the study area by reducing traffic volumes on the existing local roadway network, particularly on its existing parallel roadway (e.g., PA 144, US 322). - With reduced traffic volumes on the study area roadway network, both Build Alternatives would also improve/reduce congestion when compared to the No Build Alternative.
Willa Adams 16827 I would like to minimize housing and business disruption. However I want to protect our farmlands and water resources. 144-1 appears to have the fewest negative people impacts.
Response (3)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
Barb Alpert 16827 Such a hard situation. No one wants this road that lives anywhere near it! Is deviating the traffic with the turnpike fees an option?
Response (2)
GC-12: The ability and right to make I-76 toll free for trucks is beyond the purview of PennDOT and this PEL Study. Those types of endeavor would require approval by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and state legislature.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
Gary Alpert 16827 Not in favor of connectors going west through Harris Township, except for the existing 322 right of way. Reasons are noise from trucks, pollution from emissions from trucks and cars. Shortest distance from Potters Mills to I-99 Rte. 80 seems to favor that direction approx. 7 to 8 miles as opposed to 19 to 20 miles.
Response (6)
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
T-12: The identified purpose and need of this study is not necessarily to provide a direct connection to I-80. The purpose and need of this study is to address congestion, safety, and system continuity of the study area roadways. The traffic evaluation and analysis performed for the study Build and Upgrade Existing Alternatives considers the influence/impacts of trucks on traffic operations and safety. The traffic, including truck traffic and the movement of freight, is only one factor that influences the overall evaluation of the Build Alternative corridors.
Robert Anderson 16827 I strongly oppose ALL 322 Options for the State College Connector, including widening the existing road, for many reasons, but most importantly because each option will destroy Tait Farm. Tait Farm is one of the most recognized operating farms, businesses, community and tourist destinations in Central Pennsylvania. Tait Farm is a community and regional resource for organic foods, produce, and seedlings and more that an 60 locally produced food jams, chutneys, condiments and Tait Farm Foods Original Shrubs. Tait Farm Foods grows over 30,000 pounds of healthy, organic produce that is available in local restaurants, at the North Atherton Farmer's Market and on the farm. In addition, the Farm is THE resource for native & pollinator plants. Christmas Trees and nationally recognized Bassett Hounds. The on-farm retail Harvest Shop supports over 50 local producers, businesses, artisans, and artists, as well 23 local employees. Tait Farm sales and payrolls are significant economic drivers to our local economies. Tait Farm promotes a circular economy in our local communities. and helps sustain the livelihood of those working with and for Tait Farm. The Farm is also a community gathering place for seasonal celebrations, family outings to the country and a strong part of the agricultural community in Pennsylvania. Tait Farm Foods is one of the founding organic farms in Central Pennsylvania and is a socio/economic, environmental, agricultural& educational resource for cooks & gardeners as well as our schools, Penn State, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and the PSU Master Gardeners. Our region takes pride in the recognitions of Tait Farm Foods and Kim Tait. Kim been awarded the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s “Farmer of the Year; served on Senator Casey's Agricultural Committee & testified before the Senate on the importance of local & organic foods and Community Supported Agriculture. She lectures at Penn State and has hosted USDA and foreign delegations, as well as many classes on the farm and in the business. Tait Farm Foods Shrubs have earned the Gold & Bronze medals from the Specialty Foods Trade Association, the 'Oscar for Specialty Foods. I urge the PEL committee to take the 322 Connectors off the table and to preserve Tait Farm Foods as an essential agricultural and community resource in Centre County. Tait Farm improves our environment, enhances our quality of life, and bolsters our local economy. Destroying Tait Farm to expand the polluting effects of 15,000 trucks on the Route 322 will be a tremendous loss for us and generations to come.
Response (6)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-4: There are eight total Build Alternatives under consideration for the SCAC PEL Study along with the US 322 Upgrade Alternative. Five of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing US 322 and three of the Build Alternatives generally follow existing PA 144. At this time, all of the proposed Build Alternatives are being considered equally. These alternatives represent a general corridor width (ranging between 350’ and 800’) where future alignment options could be further developed. These corridors were developed with conceptual engineering criteria and limited design application of those criteria. If a Build Alternative or the US 322 Upgrade Alternative corridor is advanced for further study, preliminary design will be conducted to further refine the alternative’s location, develop specific project limits, balance earthwork, identify sideroad treatments, create detailed construction cost, confirm other associated engineering elements, as well as determine environmental impacts and mitigation (e.g., wildlife crossings, visual screening, wetland replacement). Interchange locations, needs, and overall connectivity will be further considered. Appropriate coordination with the local municipalities will be conducted regarding access, refinement of alternatives, and context sensitive solutions.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
T-1: Based upon current available traffic data from PennDOT’s TIRe website, heavy vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) account for approximately 20% to 25% of the traffic on the existing US 322 corridor. This is a “higher than typical” amount of truck traffic on similar type facilities, with the statewide average being on the order of 5% to 7%. Current trip origin and destination (O-D) data of study area traffic indicates that approximately 9 out of 10 heavy trucks (e.g., tractor trailers) on the US 322 corridor in the vicinity of Potter’s Mills Gap travel through the study area (thru trip). It is also estimated that approximately 3 out of every 5 heavy trucks on the US 322 corridor are coming from or headed to the I-80 corridor. This data also shows that a larger percentage of medium trucks have local destinations in State College area. It should be noted that for the purposes of this SCAC Study, the O-D data presented to date has treated “State College” as a local origin or destination.
Cory & Mindy Baggett 16827 Regarding proposed routes, 322-2 and 322-3, I have the following concerns: Carbon greenhouse gas impact the - PA 144 route is 8 miles shorter trip for tractor-trailers traveling between US 322 to Rt. 80. Reclassify US322 in Harris Township as Business 322. This allows for changes (like traffic lights) that would attract traffic to the high speed PA144 route. Water displacement or poisoning through Spring Creek and Cedar Run. Destruction of agriculture lands. Invasion and destruction of wetlands and those in restoration process. List of Concerns:Boalsburg/Harris Township is arguable the best place to live in all of Pennsylvania from a quality of life perspective – low unemployment, low crime, great schools, great outdoors, etc. It is inconceivable to us that PennDOT is even considering destroying the community and a multitude of well-established homes and businesses by splitting the Township into two buy a superhighway. only the 144 alignments make any sense. Here’s A list of specific items that concern us with respect to the 322-2 and 322-3 alignments. profound negative impacts on outdoor and recreational activities, which are essential to the physical and mental well-being of our community: a) Destruction natural habitats and increased traffic on BicyclePA Route G b) Trails in the Mount Nittany Conservancy Will lose their unadulterated view of Penns Valley and suffer noise pollution. c) Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery will no longer be a remote, rustic respite. Further: d) Severe impacts on the historical community of Linden Hall. e) severe impacts on new, expensive communities such as Aspen Heights, Rocky Ridge, an Kaywood North. f) destruction of the Meyer Dairy Farm which provides much of State College with its dairy needs. g) Carbon “greenhouse gases” impact – the PA144 route is 8 miles shorter trip for tractor-trailers traveling between US322 to Rt80. h) Reclassify US322 in Harris Township as “Business 322”. This allows for changes (like traffic lights) that would attract traffic to the high speed PA144 route. i) Water displacement or poisoning through Spring Creek and Cedar Run j) Destruction of agricultural lands k) Invasion and destruction of wetlands and those in restoration process
Response (15)
A-1: PennDOT recognizes the importance of farmland in the study area and that the extent of the productive agricultural land, and the viability of the farm operations/businesses are major contributors to the local economy. In addition, the farms, in particular, the multi-generational family farms, contribute to the cohesion of the rural community and the historic heritage of the study area. PennDOT recognizes the dedication of landowners and municipalities to preserve their farmland and farm operations through the use of both agricultural security area and/or conservation easements mechanisms. Given the extent of farmland in the study area, it will not be possible for a major transportation improvement project to avoid all potential impacts. However, PennDOT anticipates that a Farmland Assessment Report will be prepared during the detailed studies conducted in the next phase (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review) of the project. The preparation of the report will require extensive interviews with all potentially impacted farm operators to identify and document the nature, features, and extent of their operations, including all farm-related structures, pathways, and other resources of the farm operation. Interviews with farm operators and landowners will also identify any leased properties required for the successful operation of potentially affected farm operations. The report will also document the potential avoidance and minimization measures considered and the assessment of potential impacts to the viability of individual operations. It is anticipated that the proposed Build Alternative options will require a hearing with the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for approval to condemn any farmland needed for the project in anticipation that amicable settlements may not be reached for acquisition of the productive agricultural land. ALCAB approval requires that the selected alternative is the most reasonable and prudent alternative before PennDOT can proceed with condemnation proceedings.
AR/E-2: As a condition of the SCAC PEL Study, all alternatives considered will be developed in accordance with PennDOT and FHWA standards for the appropriate classification of roadway. These standards will establish requirements for design speed, severity of horizontal curvature, maximum and minimum vertical grades, number and width of travel lanes, and other design parameters. In addition, the alternatives will be designed to accommodate design year (future) traffic, including truck traffic, through the study area. Traffic performance and safety will be components of the engineering studies. Each of the alternatives will be evaluated against the established purpose and needs of the Study. Determining the Build Alternative corridor locations began by identifying the logical termini and routing corridors to connect the termini locations by best avoiding and/or minimizing potential involvement with critical, regulated environmental features while minimizing potential impacts on all natural and built environments. Logical termini are defined as the rational end points for a transportation improvement project. The Build Alternatives have only been conceptually engineered to the extent that corridor widths were determined to establish parameters for identifying potential resources that could be affected and connectivity of the local road network. As such, some structure crossing considerations (e.g., bridges and interchanges) of important local roads have been included in areas where severing these roadways would create excessive impacts to reconnect the local roadway network. The future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of any project(s) that develop from the PEL Study would identify connected local roadway improvements that are needed as a direct result of the proposed project (e.g., intersection/local roadway improvement at interchanges).
CR-1: The SCAC PEL Study: - Identified and verified known historic resources in the 70-square mile study area (those previously determined NRHP eligible and those listed in the NRHP). - Updated and verified the contributing and non-contributing historic resources of the Penns Valley/Brush Valley Rural Historic District (RHD) along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area. - Identified potentially eligible historic resources along the US 322, PA 144 and PA 45 corridors in the study area (those not previously evaluated for the NRHP). Based on the extent of resources within the area, the development of a Build Alternative or Upgrade Existing Alternative that fully avoids impacting or using of a NRHP eligible or listed resource or historic district is not possible. During the preliminary engineering and detailed environmental (NEPA) process, field surveys will be conducted to confirm the historic eligibility of any undetermined resources for listing in the NRHP. The design engineers will work with study historians to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. As mentioned, large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource agencies with jurisdiction and identified consulting parties as part of the environmental process.
GC-6: Thank you for identifying preferences and concerns on the various alternatives presented at the September 2021 public meetings. PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is collecting data, developing transportation solutions, and will make appropriate recommendations that best meet the transportation purpose and need identified in this area while balancing the overall potential effects on the natural and built environments and considering input provided by the public and study stakeholders. Direct costs for the construction of the alternatives as well as future maintenance will also be a factor in the decision-making process. All analysis and evaluations will be conducted based on current rules, regulations, and guidance. Throughout the process, study results and recommendations will be presented to the public for input.
GC-7: As this PEL Study progresses, other transportation modes and alternatives will be considered as not only mitigation opportunities for any alternative that is advanced in the PEL Study, but could also be included as independent transportation projects which PennDOT would work with the CCMPO to plan and program separately. These potential projects could include bicycle and pedestrian improvements, road diets, roadway reclassifications (e.g., business routes), intersection improvements, safety-specific improvements, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other identified transportation improvements. During the NEPA and preliminary engineering study, more detailed analysis will be conducted to assess specific local roadway improvements that need to be included as part of the SCAC project being advanced. Generally, these local road improvements are necessary to support the Build Alternative changing traffic patterns and address issues the Build Alternative causes on the network. These types of projects are called “connected actions”. For example, if a PA 144 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on PA 45 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns. Conversely, if a US 322 Build Alternative corridor is advanced, it will be determined what types of improvements would be necessary on existing US 322 as a result of the proposed interchange and changing traffic patterns.
NR-1: The assessment of proposed transportation improvements’ effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including potential increases and reductions to the contributing gases (such as CO2), is complex and must be viewed on a regional level. Transportation has been identified as a source of CO2 emissions that contributes to air quality concerns because of the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel used by motorized vehicles using the nation’s roadways. There are multiple factors that affect the influence of transportation on air quality (many which are unknown or not measurable at this time), including types of vehicles (and their respective fuel economy rates), roadway designs (including roadway grades, speed limits, and access features that affect traffic flow, and in turn, fuel economy), and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, when comparing proposed roadway options and their effects on GHG levels, those with greater forest impacts would reduce carbon sequestration potential vital to offsetting regional GHG emissions. Given that this type of assessment is complex and requires a regional view, it is beyond the scope of a planning study and additional consideration will be further considered as part of the next phase of this project. PennDOT also plans to follow the standard qualitative regional air quality analysis that is used for similar transportation studies and capacity-adding projects.
NR-2: Traffic noise analyses were not conducted as part of the SCAC PEL Study because the proposed transportation improvement corridor options are generalized locations at this time. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), designs will be developed for alternatives under consideration and detailed noise analyses will be completed in compliance with FHWA Highway Traffic Noise regulations at 23 CFR 772 and PennDOT’s guidance document, Publication #24, Project Level Highway Traffic Noise Handbook. This effort will include identifying sensitive noise receptors (such as residences, schools, churches. parks, etc.), monitoring existing noise levels in the field, and modeling to assess potential noise increases associated with each proposed alternative for existing and future design year traffic conditions. Areas that approach or exceed FHWA noise abatement criteria or would have a substantial increase in predicted noise levels will be identified and noise abatement (such as noise walls) will be evaluated. A summary of the information from these noise studies will be presented to the public for review and comment in future NEPA documents and at future public meetings.
NR-3: The information used to define the location and extent of wetlands and streams in the 70-square mile study area is based on the best available secondary sources including topographic, hydric soil, National Wetland Inventory (NWI), and statewide floodplain mapping. Additionally, several GIS datasets, including Centre County Open Data, PASDA – Modeled Primary Wetlands, and Soil Survey Geographic Database, were used to predict the location of potential aquatic resources. By combining these current and spatially accurate data sets, areas could be cross-referenced to identify intersections of hydric soils, potential sources of hydrology, and low-lying landscape positions that would typically be occupied by wetland and watercourse features. During the next phase of the study (Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Review), detailed field surveys will be conducted to verify and update the database as part of formal field investigations detailed in the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. PennDOT agrees that the entire study area contains high quality water features, including wild trout streams and exceptional value wetlands that will be carefully considered during the design of transportation improvement alternatives to be considered. The study area is also uniquely located at the headwaters of two main Drainage Basins, the Bald Eagle Creek and Penns Creek. Three primary watersheds (Sinking Creek, Spring Creek, and Little Fishing Creek) are the receiving waters of most small, unnamed tributaries within the study area.
NR-6: The 70-square mile SCAC study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural and community resources throughout. PennDOT is committed to identifying the resources to the extent possible during the planning phase’s environmental review. The location, extent, and characteristics of these resources will be further defined as part of future detailed studies for the proposed transportation projects identified to be carried forward into the NEPA process. The NEPA process will document the identification and evaluation of alternative ways of meeting the purpose and need of the proposed action, in this case, a proposed transportation improvement for the SCAC Study Area to meet the three defined study area needs and the study purpose. PennDOT and FHWA will objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. In addition, the NEPA Environmental Review process will consider the requirements of various statutes and regulations that have specific requirements for the evaluation and selection of alternatives, including, but not limited to the following: - Section 4(f) of the U.S. DOT Act of 1966: Properties subject to Section 4(f) include publicly owned parks, recreational areas, and wildlife or waterfowl refuges, in addition to significant historic sites. - Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Chapter 105: If the proposed project cannot avoid impacts to wetlands and waters, a Section 404 Permit will be required from the USCOE (and the corresponding Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the PA DEP). As part of the permit application, a 404(b)(1) Alternatives Analysis is completed along with the identification of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. - Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB): If farmland cannot be avoided, it is anticipated that a Farmland Assessment Report will be required, and an Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) Hearing will be held for approval to use farmland property for the selected alternative that is defined as the most reasonable and prudent alternative. - Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Consultation with the USFWS is required to seek ways to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of Federally threatened and endangered species and their habitats. - Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Consideration is to be given to the effects on historic and archaeological properties. Requirements includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) during the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations in addition to the effects determinations for historic properties, districts, and structures listed in or eligible for the NRHP. Requirements for archaeological studies and reports also include consultation with Federally recognized tribes as part of the investigations of prehistoric/pre-contact sites. Historic and archeological resources listed or determined eligible for listing on the NRHP are considered Section 4(f) properties. During the NEPA process, field surveys will be conducted as needed and the design engineers will work with the environmental scientists, resources agencies, and the general public (including a pro-active public outreach process) to avoid and minimize impacts to important resources to the extent possible. Large transportation improvement projects cannot avoid impacts to resources, though efforts will be taken to reduce and minimize impacts to the extent possible during the design of proposed improvements. Impacts that cannot be avoided will be mitigated to offset and compensate for the resource impacts to the extent possible. The extent and type of mitigation will be coordinated with the resource and permitting agencies and the general public and individual landowners, where applicable, through the project development process.
SER-3: Rothrock State Forest and Colyer Lake are located south of the currently proposed Build Alternative corridors. Therefore, no potential direct impacts to the associated trails are anticipated. Maintaining access to the Tussey Mountain amenities, Rothrock State Forest trails, and other recreational areas beyond the proposed Build Alternative corridors will be investigated and assessed during future detailed studies for any Build Alternative corridors that are advanced into the NEPA process.
SER-4: The 70-square mile study area includes a wide variety of important natural, cultural, agricultural, and community resources. These resources are considered in the alternative development process. Potential impacts to communities, including potential displacements of homes/businesses, fragmentation of community cohesion, and impacts to community facilities (including, but not limited to, public parks, trails, and facilities that service the communities) are being considered during the assessment of all proposed corridors. This assessment also includes any potential impacts to low-income and minority populations (in compliance with Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population and other federal regulations). Potential community impacts to both residential development communities and rural farm communities, will be considered along with potential impacts to cultural (includes historic properties and archaeological sites) and natural resources (includes wetlands, streams, forestlands, agricultural, and threatened and endangered species) in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to these valuable and protected resources to the extent possible.
SER-6: Public water and sewer service areas in the SCAC Study Area have been defined and mapped using secondary sources. In addition, information related to the public water supply sources have been compiled, including the location of water supply wells within the study area and current Source Water Protective Plans (includes plans put in place by the public water provider and municipality to identify potential threats to public drinking water and to set goals and implement strategies to protect the sources). This information includes information for the State College Borough Water Authority (portion of service area extends into the SCAC Study Area), the College Township Water Authority (includes a new public water supply well and potential influe