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SR 904 - Cheney to Four Lakes Project - Route Development Plan - Chapter 5

Environmental and Roadside Preservation

Environmental Documentation

For the development of this RDP there are multiple layers of documentation required during different stages. During the scoping phase an initial environmental evaluation is needed in order to determine what the environmental impacts may be and to facilitate the avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

When funding is secured for the plans, specials, and estimate (PS&E) stage of the project, NEPA documentation will be developed. Based on preliminary evaluation, this project would likely require a Documented Categorical Exclusion (DCE). The DCE document would include the Environmental Classification Summary Form (ECS) with discipline reports providing more in depth evaluation of areas of concern. This DCE would include a Biological Assessment with associated agency concurrence letters, Section 106 Compliance documentation including Cultural Resource Surveys and Tribal correspondence, a Wetland Report, a Wetland Mitigation Plan (if applicable), a Visual Quality Assessment, Air Quality Conformity Analysis, Noise Analysis and Abatement Report and a Hydraulic Report.

After the completion of the DCE, it will be sent to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for approval. The NEPA documentation must be complete before construction funding is committed for the project.

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

To comply with SEPA, the NEPA documentation (DCE) will be adopted or a SEPA checklist may be submitted and a Determination of Non Significance (DNS) issued. Action may be taken 7 days after the SEPA is completed.

Permitting and Approvals

After the PS&E is completed to at least the 30% level, the permitting may begin. The following table depicts the anticipated permits. This may change based on changes in the project design.

Activity Permit/Approval needed Jurisdictional Agency
Road widening in wetland 404 Nationwide Critical Areas Ordinance U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Spokane County
Culvert Replacements 404 Nationwide Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) 401 Certification ESA/Biological Assessment U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) Washington Dept. of Ecology U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS)
Soil disturbance near waterways National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit Washington Dept. of Ecology

Resource Inventory

Environmental Retrofits

Stormwater retrofits should include the installation of biofiltration swales or other stormwater treatment systems consistent with state and local stormwater regulations. During the PS&E stage, a hydraulics report will be completed that will be in accordance with the Eastern Region Highway Runoff Manual and will therefore be in compliance with Department of Ecology’s stormwater regulations.

There are a few minor drainages in the area including Minnie Creek, a tributary to Upper Crab Creek. The road-crossing structures are not fish passage barriers. In the event that the road is widened to a four lane or a five lane road, the existing culverts will either need to be extended or replaced. These recommendations will be included in the hydraulics report.

Geologic History

The project area is situated within the Cheney-Palouse River tract of the channeled scablands region of eastern Washington (WEIS and Newman 1989; Bretz 1981). The channeled scablands were created during the Pleistocene when glacial ice dams near present-day Cabinet, Idaho failed, releasing massive floodwaters. The high velocity of the floodwaters carved deep, wide canyons, or coulees, as they coursed west and south towards the Snake and Columbia river channels. The scouring effect of the floods removed much of the surficial sediments and exposed the underlying basalt bedrock.

Between the north end of the study area near Four Lakes and the approximate south end of Meadow Lake, the area’s surface geology is mapped within the boundaries of two lithological units, metasedimentary rock and outburst flood deposited gravels (Stoffel et al. 1991). Between the south end of Meadow Lake and Cheney, bedrock within the project area is mapped as Miocene-age Wanapum Basalt belonging to the Columbia River basalt group. These basalts derive from successive horizontal lava flows and locally may be interbedded with sedimentary rock (Stoffel et al. 1991).


Most of this RDP area is flat or gently sloping (10 percent or less slope). Numerous basalt outcroppings capped by very little soil were observed within the study area, particularly between the west side of the road and the adjacent wetlands south of Meadow Lake. Where bedrock was visible, basalt overlain by gravelly silts (with gravels generally increasing in size and depth) was exposed in road cuts and ephemeral stream banks throughout the study area.


Several ephemeral stream channels, dry at the time of the survey, bisect the right-of-way passing through culverts under the existing road. Minnie Creek trends south, meandering on the west side of SR 904 from its headwaters at the south end of Meadow Lake to its intersection with the study area north of Paradise Road (NW ¼, Section 1, T23N, R41E).

Minnie Creek is confined to an artificial channel within the right-of-way. Minnie Creek is a Type IV stream and according to Spokane County’s Critical Areas Ordinances it requires a 75-ft buffer. Road maintenance and repair activities are permitted within the buffer areas. New lane construction may require mitigation. Any work in the water will require permitting through the WDFW, ACOE, Spokane County and Washington State Department of Ecology.


There are several mapped Palustrine scrub shrub and emergent wetlands in the area. The impacts to these will be avoided or minimized as possible through design and construction considerations. Where wetlands are present, slope impacts may be decreased through design deviations. During PS&E development, wetlands will be delineated and rated to determine the extent of impact and a mitigation plan will be created in conjunction with regulatory agencies.


The study area is situated in a transitional zone between steppe vegetation, in particular the Artemisia tripartite (threetip sagebrush) Festuca (fescue) community, and woodlands (Daubenmire 1970; Franklin and Dyrness 1991). Natural vegetation along this segment of roadway is dominated by Ponderosa pine, with associated understory species consisting of various deciduous shrubs, threetip sagebrush, and dryland grasses. Other vegetation observed within this area include willow, red willow, red Osier dogwood, cottonwood, wild rose, arrowleaf balsam root, lomatium, mullein, snowberry, Oregon grape, thistle, cattail, and various introduced grasses. Uncultivated domestic cereals and grains are also present within the right-of-way.

Endangered Species

A Biological Assessment (BA) will be conducted during the PS&E phase 6 months prior to the ad date. The BA includes a listing of Threatened and Endangered Species (T&E).

Water Quality

All precautions will be taken during construction to prevent impacts to water quality and wildlife habitat. Silt fencing will be placed to allow sediments to settle out of water from the work areas before entering water bodies. Soils will be stabilized by planting erosion control grasses immediately following construction.

The project planning will include the development of a hydraulic report, a Stormwater Site Plan, a Spill Prevention and Countermeasures Control Plan and a Temporary Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan. Each of these plans will identify risks and identify Best Management Practices to protect water quality. There are no records of the water quality of the wetlands or Minnie Creek.

Air Quality

This segment of SR 904 is not in a non-attainment area for particulate matter, carbon monoxide or other substances.


This segment of SR 904 may result in increased vehicle usage/increased average daily traffic (ADT). During the PS&E stage a traffic analysis will be done and a noise projection based on projected traffic volume will be modeled. While this segment of roadway may have increased noise associated with it, due to the absence of sufficient densities of residential receptors, the project may not qualify for mitigation in the form of noise walls.

Section 106 Archaeological and Historical Resources

This plan may disturb portions of the Spokane and Interurban electric railway segment identified within the present right-of-way, particularly where the north and south ends of the identified segment are closest to the SR 904 roadbed, but the resource is not considered significant.

A segment of the historic-period Washington Water Power (WWP) Spokane and Interurban electric railway was identified as a result of the cultural resources survey. The segment of railroad grade is not considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Properties listing due to the fact that none of the electric railway features remain and to the discontinuous nature of the resource. Based on the results of this study, no further cultural resource study is warranted. (See A Cultural Resources Survey of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s SR 904: Cheney to Four Lakes Project, Spokane County, Washington).

4(f) Sites

There are no 4(f) properties affected.

6(f) Sites

There are no 6(f) properties affected.

Environmental Justice

This project will not have a disproportionate impact to low income or minority populations.