The National Academies

NCHRP 25-43 [Final]

Navigating Multi-Agency NEPA Processes to Advance Multimodal Transportation Projects

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Principal Investigator: Don Emerson
Effective Date: 6/3/2013
Completion Date: 2/2/2016


The revised final report has been published as NCHRP Report 827 and is available HERE.

A PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the research is available HEREIt can be downloaded and modified as needed.

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 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 were 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 are documented in a final report that also includes case studies to illustrate the best practices, findings, and conclusions of the research that can be used by state DOTs, their local partners, and federal agencies when fulfilling the requirements of the NEPA for multimodal transportation projects. 

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