Saturday, November 23, 2013

Inside Look at Sustainable Farming in America

Joel Salatin gives a tour of Polyface Farm. He...
Joel Salatin gives a tour of Polyface Farm. Here he stands inside electric netting surrounding a flock of laying hens and their portable coop, dubbed an Eggmobile. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you put good old-fashioned organically-raised, pasture-fed and finished meat in a nutrition analyzer, you’d find it’s one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.
However, many are still in the dark about the vast differences betweenConcentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and organically-raised, grass-fed meats, in terms of nutrient content and contamination with veterinary drugs, antibiotics, genetically modified organisms, and disease-causing pathogens.
Differences in the animals’ diets and living conditions create vastly different end products. For example, most CAFO cows are fed grains (oftentimes genetically engineered grains, which make matters even worse), when their natural diet consists of plain grass.
If you’re under the age of 40 or so, and have never spent time on a real farm, chances are you have a rather dim concept of just how different today’s food production is from traditional, time-tested farming practices.
These differences have monumental ramifications for our environment, for the health and wellbeing of the animals being raised, and for your own health.
There are basically two very different models of food production today. The first, and most prevalent, is the large-scale agricultural model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other - the local, sustainable farm model - has a biological and holistic view.

American Meat

The featured documentary, American Meat,1 is “a pro-farmer look at chicken, hog and cattle production in America.” The film features full-time organic farmers Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface farms in Virginia; Chuck Wirtz, a life-long hog farmer; and Dr. Fred Kirschenmann, who manages a family farm in North Dakota.
Beginning with a history of our current industrial system, the feedlots and confinement operations are unveiled, not through hidden cameras, but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there.
From there, the story shifts to Polyface Farms, where the Salatin family has developed an alternative agricultural model based on rotational grazing and local distribution.  Nationwide, a local-food movement of farmers, chefs, and everyday people has taken root.” ~ American Meat2
As a physician, it's obvious to me - and I'm sure most of you viewing this - that the food you eat plays a major role in your health. Sadly, as a society, we've strayed so far from our dietary roots and become so disconnected from our food sources that our health is now in serious jeopardy.
About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods,3 and the health of the average American is a testament to the abject failure of such foods to support good health. It's a proven fact that factory farmed and processed foods are far more likely to cause illness than unadulterated, organically-grown foods.
Fortunately, more and more people are now beginning to recognize this, and are making efforts to get back to real food - the kind of food grown by the dedicated farmers featured in this film.

The Invention of CAFOs

Chickens, like most animals and humans, depend on sunlight to produce vitamin D, and as such spend a great deal of time outdoors pecking around for bugs, which is their natural diet.
Alas, once farmers realized they could simply add vitamin D and other vitamins and medications to chicken feed, they also realized they no longer had to let the chickens outdoors. And with that the CAFO chicken farm was born...
Chicken CAFO’s took root in the 1950’s, followed by cattle and hog CAFO’s in the 1970’s and ‘80’s respectively. Today, CAFO’s dominate all livestock and poultry production in the US, and gone are hundreds of thousands of small farms that simply could no longer compete in this new market setup.
The intensive animal farming methods of today were developed to increase food production while pushing down prices. And while successful in that respect, it has given rise to a number of significant problems that probably were not considered at the outset, when increasing capacity to feed the sprawling suburbs were foremost on everyone’s mind.
For example, about 95 percent of the eggs produced in the US now come from gigantic egg factories housing millions of hens under one roof. You can only imagine how difficult – if not impossible – it is to keep millions of birds in one location and still produce a product that's safe to eat.

CAFO’s Promote Food-Borne and Antibacterial-Resistant Disease

Chickens raised in these unsanitary conditions are far more likely to be contaminated with pathogens, and to lay contaminated eggs. In one British study, 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for Salmonella compared to just over 4 percent in organic flocks, and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks.
The problem of contamination is not limited to the eggs these chickens produce, but also to the meat. To combat the potent threat of disease caused by crowded conditions, unnatural diets and inability to roam free, cage-raised chickens have to be given routine doses of antibiotics and other drugs, all of which have serious health implications, including the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans.
It has even been suggested that a growing number of antibiotic-resistant cases of urinary tract infections in women are linked to the overuse of antibiotics in chickens, and their resultant drug-resistant bacteria strains transferring to humans.4
The lesson here is, the closer you can get to the "backyard barnyard," the better. You'll want to get your chickens and eggs from smaller community farms with free-ranging hens, organically fed and locally marketed. This is the way poultry was done for centuries... before it was corrupted by politics, corporate greed and the blaring ignorance of the food industry.
Fortunately, finding high-quality pastured chickens and organic eggs is relatively easy, as virtually every rural area has small farmers with chickens. If you live in an urban area, visiting the local health food stores and farmers' markets are typically the quickest route to finding high-quality local egg sources.

Why I Only Recommend Eating Organic Grass-Fed Beef

When it comes to red meat, pasture-fed and finished beef is vastly superior to grain-fed beef, and in my view it’s the only beef worth eating. Keep in mind that it’s far more important to choose “grass-fed” than “organic,” as most grass-fed beef are also organic anyway. Not only is grass-fed beef raised in a more sustainable way for the environment, and a more humane way for the animal, but it’s the superior choice for your health.
That said, be aware that there is a load of deception when it comes to grass-fed beef, so be sure to ask your seller if it is grass finished as that is the key to make sure the animals are not fed grains.  Ideally the pasture should be raised on a cocktail cover crop and provide high quality pasture for the cattle.
The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is grass. When left to feed on grass-only diets, levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA are three to five times more than those fed grain-based diets. And that's just for starters. A joint effort between the USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed for human health.5 In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:
Lower in total fatHigher in total omega-3s
Higher in beta-caroteneA healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavinHigher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassiumLower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

Avoid Consuming too Much Meat

While I’m a strong advocate of regularly consuming animal protein for its nutritional benefits, it is my observation that most people eat too much animal protein overall.  It would be very unusual for most people reading this to need more than four to six ounces of beef or chicken a day. That is not very much.  Additionally, if a personal or spiritual belief limit or prevent you from eating meat, fish, eggs, or dairy, these food items can easily be substituted. However you’ll still want to limit your protein to about one-half gram per pound of lean body mass unless you are doing strength training or are pregnant, in which case you would benefit from about 25 percent more protein per day.

Yes, You CAN Grow and Raise Your Own Food

Real Meat reveals many of the simple and age-tested techniques used to raise chickens, pigs and other livestock at Polyface Farm, run by Joel Salatin. I’ve previously toured Salatin’s farm and interviewed him about his methods as well. Salatin is a sustainable farming pioneer who has also devised a number of creative processes that allow small farmers to grow food in a more efficient manner.  One of Salatin’s inventions is the “Egg Mobile,” which allows the farmer to easily move chickens from one paddock to another. By dividing the land into sections (paddocks), and rotating cattle and chickens through the paddocks in turn, you can take full advantage of their symbiotic relationships.
Every couple of days, cows are moved into a new paddock where there’s fresh grass. The cows eat the grass and deposit manure, which attracts insects and worms. When the cows are moved into the next paddock, the chickens are wheeled into the first, where there’s now plenty of natural food for the chickens to eat. This system can work quite well for many small farmers. You don’t have to become a full-fledged farmer to raise your own food, however.
Growing sprouts is probably the easiest, least time-consuming and most inexpensive way to get started growing your own nutritious food. Unlike a conventional vegetable garden, you’ll have food ready for harvest in about one week, and sprouts are among the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Depending on the sprout, the nutrient content can increase as much as 30 times the original value within just a few days of sprouting!
When it comes to animals, chickens are well-suited for a wide variety of locales, and raising chickens for fresh eggs can be another great way to “get your feet wet,” provided you have the right setting, and a little more time. Depending on the breed of the chicken, and the amount of daylight it receives, a chicken will typically lay one egg every 36 hours or so. (They will typically stop laying eggs over the winter, unless artificial day light is provided.)  If you are interested in the possibility of raising a few chickens yourself, a good place to begin is by asking yourself the following questions. You can also visit Joel's Polyface Farm Web site for more details on raising chickens.
  1. Can I dedicate some time each day? You can expect to devote about 10 minutes a day, an hour per month, and a few hours twice a year to the care and maintenance of your brood.
  2. Do I have enough space? They will need a minimum of 10 square feet per bird to roam, preferably more. The more foraging they can do, the healthier and happier they'll be and the better their eggs will be.
  3. What are the chicken regulations in my town? You will want to research this before jumping in because some places have zoning restrictions and even noise regulations (which especially applies if you have a rooster).
  4. Are my neighbors on board with the idea? It's a good idea to see if they have any concerns early on. When they learn they might be the recipients of occasional farm-fresh eggs, they might be more agreeable.
  5. Can I afford a flock? There are plenty of benefits to growing your own eggs, but saving money isn't one of them. There are significant upfront costs to getting a coop set up, plus ongoing expenses for supplies.

Support Sustainable Agriculture by Buying “Real” Food

If you want to optimize your health, you simply must return to the basics of healthy food choices. And, as Joel Salatin says in the film, you CAN farm! It’s all a matter of scale. As just mentioned, you can start really small by growing some sprouts to eat with your daily meal. This can progress to a larger organic garden; using pots and planters if you live in an apartment, or by dedicating a part of your back yard to a vegetable garden. If you have the time and space, you could move up to chickens.
Besides growing and raising your own, buying your food from responsible, high-quality, sustainable sources is your best bet, and I strongly encourage you to support the small family farms in your area. This includes not only visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also taking part in farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture programs. Not only is the food so much tastier and healthier when you get it from sustainable, non-CAFO sources, but there is something about shopping for fresh foods in an open-air, social environment that just feels right. If you want to experience some of these benefits first-hand, here are some great resources to obtain wholesome food that supports not only you but also the environment:
  1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  2. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  3. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  4. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  6. FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
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Music by Marc Teichert, Free Celtic Mp3 Album Downloads

Celtic cross at dawn in Knock, Ireland (at the...
Celtic cross at dawn in Knock, Ireland (at the bus stop to Westport) 28/07/2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Now for something entirely different.  Music by Marc Teichert.  Music mostly considered soundtrack works.  You know, the kind of stuff played in the background of movies and TV shows to set the mood of the piece.  Some good stuff here.  13 songs to take you on your own adventure.  Just close your eyes and see where the music takes you.  Who needs the movie when you have the music to set the tone and mode for you.  Play this while reading a good book.  It might just take that book you are reading to an all new level.

  Play the music and see what you like.  Download whatever turns you on.  Download whatever turns you off and give that away to people you do not like.  You  might end up making friends with them however, so be careful on that one.
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Anti Federalist Papers No. 29 – Objections To National Control Of The Militia

"A DEMOCRATIC FEDERALIST," appeared in "the Pennsylvania Packet," October 23, 1787; the following portion of #29, & #30 are excerpted from "The Address And Reasons Of Dissent Of The Minority Of The Convention Of The State Of Pennsylvania To Their Constituents," December 12, 1787.


Hume, an aristocratical writer, has candidly confessed that an army is a moral distemper in a government, of which it must at last inevitably perish (2d Burgh, 349); and the Earl of Oxford (Oxford the friend of France and the Pretender, the attainted Oxford), said in the British parliament, in a speech on the mutiny bill, that, "While he had breath he would speak for the liberties of his country, and against courts martial and a standing army in peace, as dangerous to the Constitution. " (Ibid. , page 455. ) Such were the speeches even of the enemies of liberty when Britain had yet a right to be called free. But, says Mr. [James] Wilson, "It is necessary to maintain the appearance of strength even in times of the most profound tranquillity. "

And what is this more than a threadbare hackneyed argument, which has been answered over and over in different ages, and does not deserve even the smallest consideration? Had we a standing army when the British invaded our peaceful shores? Was it a standing army that gained the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, and took the ill-fated Burgoyne? Is not a well regulated militia sufficient for every purpose of internal defense? And which of you, my fellow citizens, is afraid of any invasion from foreign powers that our brave militia would not be able immediately to repel?

Mr. Wilson says, that he does not know of any nation in the world which has not found it necessary to maintain the appearance of strength in a season of the most profound tranquillity. If by this equivocal assertion he has meant to say that there is no nation in the world without a standing army in time of peace, he has been mistaken. I need only adduce the example of Switzerland, which, like us, is a republic, whose thirteen cantons, like our thirteen States, are under a federal government, and which besides is surrounded by the most powerful nations in Europe, all jealous of its liberty and prosperity. And yet that nation has preserved its freedom for many ages, with the sole help of a militia, and has never been known to have a standing army, except when in actual war. Why should we not follow so glorious an example; and are we less able to defend our liberty without an army, than that brave but small nation which, with its militia alone has hitherto defied all Europe?
A DEMOCRATIC FEDERALIST

The framers of this constitution appear to have been . . . sensible that no dependence could be placed on the people for their support; but on the contrary, that the government must be executed by force. They have therefore made a provision for this purpose in a permanent standing army and a militia that may be objected to as strict discipline and government.

A standing army in the hands of a government placed so independent of the people, may be made a fatal instrument to overturn the public liberties; it may be employed to enforce the collection of the most oppressive taxes; and to carry into execution the most arbitrary measures. An ambitious man who may have the army at his devotion, may step up into the throne, and seize upon absolute power.

The absolute unqualified command that Congress have over the militia may be made instrumental to the destruction of all liberty both public and private; whether of a personal, civil or religious nature.

First, the personal liberty of every man, probably from sixteen to sixty years of age, may be destroyed by the power Congress have in organizing and governing of the militia. As militia they may be subjected to fines to any amount, levied in a military manner; they may be subjected to corporal punishments of the most disgraceful and humiliating kind; and to death itself, by the sentence of a court martial. To this our young men will be more immediately subjected, as a select militia, composed of them, will best answer the purposes of government.

Secondly, the rights of conscience may be violated, as there is no exemption of those persons who are conscientiously scrupulous of hearing arms. These compose a respectable proportion of the community in the State [Pennsylvania]. This is the more remarkable, because even when the distresses of the late war and the evident disaffection of many citizens of that description inflamed our passions, and when every person who was obliged to risk his own life must have been exasperated against such as on any account kept back from the common danger, yet even then, when outrage and violence might have been expected, the rights of conscience were held sacred.

At this momentous crisis, the framers of our State Constitution made the most express and decided declaration and stipulations in favor of the rights of conscience; but now, when no necessity exists, those dearest rights of men are left insecure.

Thirdly, the absolute command of Congress over the militia may be destructive of public liberty; for under the guidance of an arbitrary government, they may be made the unwilling instruments of tyranny. The militia of Pennsylvania may be marched to New England or Virginia to quell an insurrection occasioned by the most galling oppression, and aided by the standing army, they will no doubt be successful in subduing their liberty and independency. But in so doing, although the magnanimity of their minds will be extinguished, yet the meaner passions of resentment and revenge will be increased, and these in turn will be the ready and obedient instruments of despotism to enslave the others; and that with an irritated vengeance. Thus may the militia be made the instruments of crushing the last efforts of expiring liberty, of riveting the chains of despotism on their fellow-citizens, and on one another. This power can be exercised not only without violating the Constitution, but in strict conformity with it; it is calculated for this express purpose, and will doubtless be executed accordingly.

As this government will not enjoy the confidence of the people, but be executed by force, it will be a very expensive and burdensome government. The standing army must be numerous, and as a further support, it wilt be the policy of this government to multiply officers in every department; judges, collectors, tax-gatherers, excisemen and the whole host of revenue officers, will swarm over the land, devouring the hard earnings of the industrious like the locusts of old, impoverishing and desolating all before them. . . .
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Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving, USA



Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving - USA from Chuck Thompson

Why we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the USA.  Here is a short story about this American holiday.  Canada has a similar holiday as well.  To read the story in full screen mode, please left click the icon at the far bottom right hand side of the above container.  To exit full screen, please hit the escape key on your keyboard.  We have more stories coming this week.  
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Governor McDonnell Announces 125 New Jobs in Smyth County

Map of Virginia highlighting Smyth County
Map of Virginia highlighting Smyth County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co. to invest $2.1 million in first U.S. furniture manufacturing operation
Governor met with company officials in Beijing during April 2013 marketing mission

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today today that Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co., Ltd., a Chinese furniture manufacturer, will invest $2.1 million to establish its first U.S. subsidiary, New Ridge, LLC, in Smyth County. The company will manufacture furniture components for the Chinese market, supply its European customers with finished products from the U.S., manufacture and sell products for the U.S. market, and expand into lumber production and export to China. Virginia successfully competed against Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia for the project, which will create 125 new jobs.

            Governor McDonnell met with Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co. officials about this project in Beijing, China during his April 2013 Asia Marketing Mission.

            Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “Last April I met with Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co. in Beijing to discuss bringing its first U.S. subsidiary to Virginia. This project is of utmost importance to the Commonwealth and to Smyth County, and successfully competing against three other states is a great testament to the opportunity the company sees in the state and region. The addition of New Ridge, LLC and 125 new jobs is tremendous news for an area that is recovering economically, and the company is able to take advantage of an existing facility that is outfitted for furniture manufacturing and allows quick startup to production. We welcome New Ridge, LLC as a great addition to our strong wood products industry cluster in Southwest Virginia.”

            “This great project is a testament to the strong relationship Virginia maintains and continues to strengthen with China,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co.’s new company, New Ridge, LLC, will be a great asset to the Commonwealth in many ways. In addition to creating new jobs and repurposing a vacant facility, the company will also use Virginia timber to manufacture its furniture components. We are pleased New Ridge can take advantage of the region’s plentiful natural resources as it expands into the U.S. market.”

            Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co., Ltd. is a privately-held, family-owned, furniture company established in 1998 and headquartered in Liao Yang, China. The company has a number of operations in Russia and other locations in Northeast China and over 550 employees.  Liaoyang is one of the global strategic suppliers to IKEA in Asia Pacific and manufactures solid wood bathroom furniture that is shipped to IKEA stores in worldwide. 

            “We were always impressed with Virginia’s pro-business investment environment, its excellent infrastructure and strategic geographic location, and the health of its economy,” said Ms. ZOU, Xiaohui, President & CEO, New Ridge, LLC. “These favorable conditions plus the incentive programs presented us a compelling business case. Ultimately it is the support that we received from the local and state governments, our ongoing strong relationship with area suppliers and businesses, and especially the hospitality of the local communities, the skill and quality of the local labor force and the state’s quality of life and education excellence that made us decide to put our U.S. roots in Southwest Virginia. We will work hard to grow and succeed with the communities of which we are now part.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Smyth County and Virginia’s a Corridor to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Smyth County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $450,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment and training activities.

           “Smyth County is very excited to be selected by Liaoyang Ningfeng Woodenware Co. as the location for its first manufacturing operation in the U.S., and we thank the company for its investment,” said Wade Blevins, Chairman, Smyth County Board of Supervisors. “This project will go a long way toward replacing the jobs that were lost when Merillat closed earlier this year. Smyth County is happy to provide funds through our EDA to partner with the State and the Tobacco Commission for assistance on this project. It is truly a great day here in Smyth County.”

            “Today's announcement of 125 new manufacturing jobs coming to Smyth County is a major victory for our region,” said Senator Charles W. Carrico, member, the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. “It signals the beginning of what could be a revitalization of the manufacturing economy in Southwest Virginia, and it will provide much-needed employment opportunities for our citizens. I would like to welcome New Ridge, LLC to Smyth County and commend the state officials and organizations who worked together to make this venture a success.”


Our Notes:
American Businesses NOT Welcome here.  At least not with the same opportunities given to a foreign investor.

Promoting Economic Development in Virginia’s Tobacco Region

The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement.  To date, the Commission has awarded 1,700 grants totaling more than $1 billion across the tobacco region of the Commonwealth, and has provided $309 million in indemnification payments to tobacco growers and quota holders. Click on Who are We at the left to learn more.
To learn more about Commission's programs click Grant Funding Info at the left. Also be sure to see the profiles below for examples of significant programs and facilities supported by Commission grants.

Virginia Tobacco Commission's Indemnification Program has Ended

  Since 2000, the Commission has made available $309 million to Virginia's tobacco producers and quota owners. In January 2012, the Commission announced that it has reached the end of its indemnification obligation. The final deadline for submission of Phase I Verification for Payment forms and Applications for Payment was June 30, 2012.  The 2012 payment was the final distribution of Phase I Indemnification funds.  The Commission has satisfied its statutory obligation to indemnify burley and flue-cured producers and quota owners, and the program has ended.

If you have any questions, please contact the Tobacco Commission office at 804-225-2027 orinfo@tic.virginia.gov.

The Virginia Indemnity Tobacco fund approved $450,000.00 in payments towards this Chineses business venture, yet according to the states own information, the program has ended?  What gives?  Anyone seeing any issues here?
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Governor McDonnell Announces Important Milestone to Advance Interstate 66 Improvements

English: The state seal of Virginia. Српски / ...
English: The state seal of Virginia.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tier 1 EIS approved by Feds; Commonwealth Transportation Board to select one or more concepts next month

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the first step in making major improvements to one of the most congested corridors in the Commonwealth has been approved. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a record of decision on the 25-mile Tier 1 environmental impact statement (EIS) study of Interstate 66 from the Capital Beltway to Haymarket, clearing the way for the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to select one or more of the final ten concepts for detailed analysis.

“Today’s approval of the I-66 Tier 1 EIS gives us the green light to move forward with finding the best short and long-term solutions,” said Governor McDonnell. “I-66 drivers sit in frustrating stop-and-go traffic on a daily basis with unpredictable travel times and few alternate options.  Getting I-66 moving again has been one of our top priorities, and I am pleased that we have reached this milestone.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) identified 10 concepts to increase capacity within the corridor, as well as options to increase travel mode choices, improve individual interchanges, address spot safety needs, and enhance travel efficiency.

Concepts include adding general purpose lanes, constructing managed lanes (similar to the 495 Express Lanes and the future 95 Express Lanes), extending Metrorail and/or VRE, constructing light rail and/or bus rapid transit, improving chokepoints, intermodal connectivity, and safety and  intelligent transportation system enhancements.

“Advancing I-66 improvements is critical to the quality of life for commuters,” said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton.  “The Commonwealth is working aggressively to provide better travel options in a heavily congested area so commuters can save time and cost.”

The CTB will select one or more of the concepts for study and VDOT will begin the Tier 2 analysis this spring and will complete it within two years.

“Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with local governments and communities to ensure an open and transparent process,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.

“I-66 improvements are critical to providing a better transportation facility for all commuters and travelers,” said DPRT Director Thelma Drake.  “The Commonwealth will continue to explore a wide range of options, including rail improvements.”

Public meetings were held in June 2011, and January and February of 2012. VDOT and DRPT hosted public hearings on Tier 1 Draft in March 2013.

More information on the study is available in the link below:http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/projects/northernvirginia/i66_eis.asp
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