Navigating Multi-Agency NEPA Processes to Advance Multimodal Transportation Projects

States are increasingly pursuing balanced transportation solutions that may include highway, bus, commuter and inter-city rail, freight rail, street car or light rail, bicycle, pedestrian, intermodal freight facilities, and/or local surface transportation network mobility projects. This practice has increased the likelihood of two or more federal agencies being involved in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process. The term "environmental review process" is defined at 23 U.S.C. § 139 and means the process for preparing for a project an environmental impact statement, environmental assessment, categorical exclusion, or other document prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The term "environmental review process" also includes the process for and completion of any environmental permit, approval, review, or study required for a project under any federal law other than the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The President's Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) is engaged in a broad effort to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of NEPA and is working with relevant federal agencies to implement five pilot NEPA projects to replicate time- and cost-saving approaches across the federal government. From the perspective of state departments of transportation (DOTs) and their local partners, the involvement of different combinations of federal agencies, whether in lead, cooperating or participating roles, can increase the complexity of the NEPA process.  State DOTs face myriad challenges in navigating different interpretations, policy, guidance, and expectations of the NEPA process by combinations of the involved federal agencies. Research is needed to provide integrated guidance to help DOTs and their local partners structure and implement an efficient and effective approach to satisfy NEPA requirements from multiple federal agencies. The objectives of this research are to (1) characterize the challenges inherent in satisfying NEPA administrative requirements from multiple federal agencies, (2) identify strategies and tactics used by state and local transportation agencies to navigate through these challenges, and (3) suggest new and innovative strategies to be explored. The results of the research will be documented in a final report that also includes case studies to illustrate the best practices, findings, and conclusions of the research. The final product will identify practices and strategies that can be used by state DOTs <span>and their local partners to work efficiently and effectively with federal agencies when fulfilling the requirements of the NEPA for multimodal transportation projects. 


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-43

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Sundstrom, Lori

  • Performing Organizations:

    Parsons Brinckerhoff

    2545 Farmers Drive, Suite 350
    Columbus, OH  United States  43235
  • Principal Investigators:

    Emerson, Don

  • Start Date: 20130603
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20150603
  • Source Data: RiP Project 38343

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01548178
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-43
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 18 2014 1:00AM