The National Academies

NCHRP 25-25/Task 103 [Final]

Administration of Categorical Exclusions by State Departments of Transportation under NEPA
[ NCHRP 25-25 (Research for the AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $60,000
Research Agency: WSP USA Inc.
Principal Investigator: Douglas J. Delaney
Effective Date: 3/5/2018
Completion Date: 4/1/2019

Status: Research is complete. The Final Report is available HERE (PDF; 34.7 MB). The database of programmatic agreements is available for download HERE (XLSX format; 24.8 MB). A recorded presentation of the project is available HERE (runtime 32:05).

Since 1989, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and State DOTs have employed programmatic agreements that establish procedures for expeditious and efficient approval of Categorical Exclusions (CEs). President Obama signed Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) into law on July 6, 2012. Section 1318(d) of MAP-21 puts forward a permanent program that allows State DOTs to assume CE approval authority on the behalf of FHWA. The content, structure, and approach of existing programmatic agreements between FHWA Division Offices and State DOTs vary widely, as FHWA affords State DOTs the flexibility to adopt programmatic agreements best suited to each state’s individual circumstances.

On October 6, 2014, FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a Final Rule1 in the Federal Register that amends the NEPA regulations for FHWA and FTA, 23 CFR Part 771,2 to authorize the establishment of programmatic agreements between FHWA and State DOTs to allow State DOTs to make a CE approval on FHWA’s behalf. In accordance with the regulation, State DOTs should establish new or revised existing programmatic agreements before November 6, 2019. In undertaking the required re-establishment of new programmatic agreements with FHWA, in accordance with 23 CFR Part 771.117(g), State DOTs need to understand how CEs are currently administered and how programmatic agreements are structured.

Research Objective:

The purpose of this research is to produce a report characterizing the state of Categorical Exclusion (CE) programmatic agreements (PA) between FHWA and State DOTs, including PAs that are already compliant with 23 CFR Part 771.117(g), as modified in accordance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act.

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