Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment. Task 99. Lessons Learned from State DOT NEPA Assumption

The objective of this research is to share lessons learned from State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) who have applied or are in the process of applying for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assumption with other states who are considering assumption. Information will be shared in at least the following 3 ways: (1) a peer exchange, (2) a white paper, and (3) a webinar. The webinar and white paper will explain the process of obtaining delegation, primary considerations, and an evaluation of what responsibilities can be delegated, existing flexibilities, challenges, risks and benefits. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and state DOTs are looking for opportunities to streamline transportation projects during the NEPA process. To increase opportunities, Section 6004 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU), codified as 23 USC 326, allowed FHWA to assign authorities related to Categorical Exclusions (CE). To gain this authority, state DOTs enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FHWA, which delineates the responsibilities to be delegated to the state. Section 6005 of SAFETEA-LU, now 23 USC 327, assigned Federal NEPA responsibilities for one or more highway projects to five states under a delegation pilot program: Alaska, California, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. Currently, Alaska, California, Utah and Texas have received this assigned authority. Since the provision was enacted, California applied for and received authority to participate in both delegation programs. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began operating on this assigned authority in July 2007 and this authority has been extended to January 2017. The delegation of authority allows Caltrans to assume FHWA responsibilities under NEPA and other Federal environmental laws for CE transportation projects as well as for those requiring Environmental Assessments (EA) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). The program has successfully reduced the time required to prepare EAs and EISs. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) amended this program to make it permanent and allow all state DOTs to assume federal DOT responsibilities under NEPA. Texas is finalizing its MOU with FHWA for NEPA assignment and several other states are interested in pursuing NEPA assignment. Because NEPA delegation is a technique that can help streamline the NEPA process, a number of state DOTs have expressed interest in understanding the risks and benefits of NEPA delegation as well as the process required to obtain NEPA responsibility from FHWA. Disseminating lessons learned would be beneficial to state DOTs that are considering NEPA assumption.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-25, Task

  • 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:


  • Principal Investigators:

    Dunlap, Kelly

  • Start Date: 20150721
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160721
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40134

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01571699
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-25, Task
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jul 29 2015 1:00AM