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Environmental Management

The Environmental Management Office ensures compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for federal-aid projects prior to the obligation of right-of-way funds and secures all of the environmental permits (Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404/401) and navigational permits for the agency's projects prior to the obligation of construction funds.

In complying with the NEPA, Environmental Management engages in studies regarding the effects of any proposed federal-aid project on both the human and natural environment, and coordinates assessment of environmental liabilities associated with the right-of-way acquisition.

When assessing effects on the human environment, SCDOT analyses existing and future noise levels (Noise Policy (PDF 658 Kb)) and conduct studies regarding effects on cultural resources, both archeological and architectural. SCDOT also performs economic, social and natural resources impact assessments, including compliance with the Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

The Environmental Management Office (EMO) works with the engineering staff to ensure the appropriate environmental information is obtained for the completion of environmental documents in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They also ensure that the public is informed and involved in the development of all transportation projects as required.

The EMO works with resource/regulatory agencies to secure all of the environmental permits and navigational permits for the agency's projects prior to construction.

The EMO identifies cultural resources, including archaeological sites, historic buildings and bridges that may be affected by federally funded or assisted highway projects. Once these resources have been identified, their significance is evaluated according to National Register criteria, and an assessment is made as to what effect the proposed project will have on these resources. Based on the findings, SCDOT makes recommendations on resources to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

The SHPO makes determinations as to whether the resource is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and what effect the project would have on eligible or listed resources.

The EMO also coordinates and consults with various state agencies, federal agencies, and other interested parties to seek ways to avoid or reduce the effects on the significant cultural resources. Cultural resources, also known as historic resources, include districts, buildings, sites, structures, or objects that are significant in American history. This may include architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires federal agencies to review the effects of any proposed actions on historic resources. Prior to undertaking a project, SCDOT must conduct archival research and field surveys to assess resources that are currently listed or might be eligible for listing on the NRHP.

Section 4 (f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 regulates how publicly owned properties such as parks, recreational lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites are used for transportation projects. It must be demonstrated that no prudent or feasible alternative exists to avoid the 4(f) property, and then it can be used for a project, provided there is a plan to minimize harm to the property.

The EMO works to ensure potential impacts to Natural Resources are minimized and that projects remain on schedule. Natural resources include farmlands, uplands, wetlands, water quality, floodplains, federally protected species, state species of concern, wildlife habitat, scenic rivers, and coastal zone resources.

Key functions performed during the environmental process include:

  1. Conducting site visits to investigate and determine if any endangered species are within the project area.
  2. Identifying any wetland areas and their boundaries to minimize or avoid impacts.
  3. Determining what impact proposed projects will have on water resources (streams, ponds, etc.), and what, if any permits are needed.
  4. Ensuring statewide compliance of Endangered Species Act

Related Links:

Public Hearings
Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404/401
Endangered Species Act
Executive Order on Environmental Justice
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)

Related Documents:

Noise Policy (PDF 658 Kb)

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