South Carolina Secretary of Transportation H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. and Federal Highway Administration Division (FHWA) Administrator Bob Lee signed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Northern I-73 Project Aug. 6.
“The signing of the FEIS represents over three years of work to identify the best overall route for I-73 through this region. We have reached an important milestone and look forward to seeking sources of funding, both public and private, so that I-73 may become reality,” Limehouse said.
Lee pointed to the elements that led to the success of the project: “Excellent communication and partnering are two factors that made this project a success. For example, we have been actively engaged with FHWA in North Carolina since day one. The result is a completed Environmental Impact Statement in about 36 months as compared to the national average of 68 months.”
The Northern I-73 Project is 36 mi. (58 km) long and extends from I-95 in South Carolina to I-73/I74 in the Rockingham/Hamlet, N.C. area. The project crosses Marlboro and Dillon Counties in South Carolina and Richmond and Scotland Counties in North Carolina.
Approval of the FEIS is a milestone in the project progress. The FEIS represents the completion of a cooperative effort between SCDOT and NCDOT to develop this comprehensive assessment of impacts to relevant human and natural features within the project study area. The alignment resulted in the least overall impact for I-73 in this area.
The next milestone is the upcoming Record of Decision (ROD), which is anticipated in October 2008. Once the ROD is issued, it is anticipated that the right of way acquisition will proceed for tracts that would be totally taken by the right of way footprint for the interstate.
A draft environmental impact statement for the Northern I-73 Project was approved in July 2007.