US 98 from US 27 to East of Airport Road
Project Development & Environment Study
What is a PD&E Study?
A Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study is an environmental and engineering process developed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to determine social, economic, natural, and physical environmental effects associated with a proposed transportation improvement project. The process follows procedures set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and federal and state laws and regulations. It requires the combined efforts of professional engineers, planners, and scientists who collect and analyze project-related information to develop the best solution for transportation needs. An important component of the process is public and agency coordination. The basic activities of a PD&E study include:
The first major work effort is the collection of all available data pertaining to the study corridor including existing roadway characteristics, traffic counts, existing and future land uses, drainage patterns, locations of wetlands and habitat for threatened or endangered species, potential contamination sites, area of historic and cultural significance and population demographics.
Alternatives Development and Analysis
During the PD&E process, the study team develops feasible alternatives for roadway improvement projects, called “build” alternatives. They evaluate the “build” alternatives based on environmental, engineering, and socioeconomic conditions; safety needs; and public comment. The team also evaluates the need for additional right-of-way for stormwater ponds and environmental mitigation during the PD&E study phase. Throughout the process, the study team considers the “no-build” alternative, which assumes no improvements to US 98 other than routine maintenance through 2036. The environmental and social effects and costs of the “build” and “no-build” alternatives are quantified and summarized in an evaluation matrix.
Public Information Workshop
FDOT held a public information workshop for this study from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at Chateau Elan in Sebring. The study team presented the proposed widening options and alignment alternatives at this workshop. FDOT invited the public to attend, view project displays and comment on proposed improvements. With input received at the public information workshop, FDOT selected a recommended alternative.
FDOT held an alternatives public meeting for this study on October 29, 2013 at Chateau Elan in Sebring. The hearing began with an open house at 6 pm and followed wit ha formal presentation and public comment period at 7 pm. The study team presented the proposed widening options and alignment alternatives at this hearing. FDOT invited the public to attend the hearing and take the opportunity to give public testimony regarding proposed improvements. The department made a final decision on the basis of these recommendations - since the public has had an opportunity to review and comment on the recommended alternative.
On August 14, 2017, FDOT Office of Environmental Management (OEM) granted Location and Design Concept Acceptance for the US 98 PD&E study. The project is now eligible to move to the next phase of development.