An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a study that determines the effects of a proposed project before it is carried out. An EA identifies the potential environmental effects of a project and proposes measures to minimize adverse effects. During the EA process, the Purpose and Need of the project is defined and the affected environment is described. A reasonable range of transportation alternatives are evaluated, and the environmental and cultural impacts of each alternative are analyzed. The result of the analysis is the selection of a Preferred Alternative based on factors such as environmental resource impacts and engineering feasibility.
Public participation is an important element of the EA process. The East Side Highway EA will follow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Context Sensitive Solution (CSS) approach to public involvement. You can read more about the CSS process here.
If, after completing the EA, it is determined that there are no significant impacts associated with the project, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will be prepared to conclude the process. If, during any stage of the process of preparing the EA, it is discovered that the project will result in significant environmental impacts, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared. An EIS is a document required for federal projects that result in significant impacts to the natural and human environment.