In February 2003, the DOE/NNSA planned to built the North Bypass Road themselves without County involvement. At some point after that, the DOE/NNSA abandoned this North Bypass plan as too costly and the County eventually brought a suit against the DOE/NNSA based on alleged NEPA violations on December 27, 2005. A settlement of the suit occurred in April 2006, providing the County with an easement agreement from the DOE/NNSA that would allow the County to construct it's own Bypass road. Meanwhile, LANL built the Ski Hill Bypass (using FEMA funding) that connected to West Road and provided Los Alamos with non-security gated access to Jemez Mountain destinations. The Ski Hill Bypass opened in late 2007, and has performed well since that time.
The County is relying on a Supplement Analysis [SA] of the Security Perimeter project done by the DOE/NNSA in February 2003 (reference link below) in order to cover the County's NEPA obligations. (Previous DOE/NNSA environmental assessments are also being relied upon by the County, and are referenced in this SA. NEPA requirements are triggered when Federal Moneys are used in a project.)
In the February 2003 SA, in a table of "potential environmental consequences of the Security Perimeter Project," under the category "Biological Resources" the SA states:
The proposed security perimeter road would cross a side
canyon that drains into Los Alamos Canyon by way of a
bridge constructed to span that area. Changes in rerouting
traffic into this area would not likely result in major changes
to biological resources of the area.
The County's design now calls for a large quarter mile long dam-like structure that would carry the Bypass road on top of it. This structure and road would essentially fill a major portion of this side canyon with dirt and could disrupt migration patterns within this habitat by fragmenting the research park property.
This is a major change from the DOE/NNSA's plan described in the SA that is now being used by the County for this project. Does this change necessitate a fresh NEPA review to take a look at the effect this contiguous dam like structure would have on the local environment?
I have received the following note from the County:
"The West Jemez Bypass will avoid Archaic sites identified in other investigations. Los Alamos County provided LANL with the copies of the roadway alignment plans for review, and LANL did not identify any Archaic sites along the selected alignment."
I leave the next few paragraphs for reference, but I don't see Cultural Resources as an issue.....
Because of changes in the placement of the Bypass and the fact that it is being placed primarily on a slope, it can be assumed that many of the Cultural Resource issues are lessened. In any case, the SA goes on to state:
The four Archaic sites are eligible for preservation. The planned construction of the perimeter road would adversely affect two of the recorded prehistoric archaeological sites in the area. The other two can be avoided. A Traditional Cultural Property [TCP] is also present within the project area. Adverse affects to this TCP by construction of the perimeter road are currently being identified by San Ildefonso Pueblo in consultation with LANL archaeologists.
Because the construction of a portion of the perimeter road would be an adverse effect to two of the Archaic sites, under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended) and 36 CFR Part 800.5, “Assessment of Adverse Effects”, a data recovery plan would be prepared to resolve these adverse effects and would be negotiated between the SHPO and the NNSA DOE. The data recovery plan would specify mitigation actions for each site. It is likely that at least one of the sites will require full excavation as an acceptable method for mitigating any adverse effects. The other sites will likely need partial or no excavation provided they could be avoided.
A Memorandum of Agreement for resolution of adverse effects would be prepared following SHPO concurrence on the NRHP eligibility assessment and would implement the data recovery plan. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation would be notified of the Memorandum of Agreement and would have an opportunity to comment. No disturbance of the two Archaic sites or the TCP can take place until LANL and NNSA DOE prepare and implement the data recovery plan for mitigation of adverse effects.
Questions based on the above SA statements:
1 - Has the number of Archaic sites eligible for preservation changed as a result of changes in the layout and design of the Bypass Road (without a bridge)?
2 - Has the "adverse affects" analysis (by San Ildefonso Pueblo and LANL Archeologist) described above been completed (if still necessary)?
3 - Which, if any sites will now require full excavation as a result of changes in Bypass layout and design?
4 - Has a SHPO approved data recovery plan been completed with notification and comments of the Advisory Council on History Preservation (if this notification is still required)?
I have submitted these Cultural Resource questions to the County's project manager for the Bypass and hope that they can be cleared up shortly. I will update here once I know more about the answers.
DOE Ref - 034 Final Security Perimeter Road SA.pdf