Friday, September 29, 2017

USDOT streamlining environmental review for multimodal projects

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The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to streamline the environmental review process for multimodal projects, to speed development while removing bureaucratic obstacles.

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“The Department of Transportation is committed to identifying ways to eliminate unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy that will save states time, money and reduce burdensome compliance costs.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. “Important new regulatory and policy changes are underway at the Department to help deliver infrastructure projects faster, and in a more cost effective manner.”

Her comments came during an address to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) annual meeting this week in Phoenix.

Chao said that DOT has proposed a regulatory change, already sent to the Federal Register, which will harmonize the agency’s environmental review process with those of the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. This would ensure that multi-modal projects have to follow only one process, rather than multiple agency processes. It would also exempt most concrete and steel bridges built after 1945 from historic sites review.

The Department issued updated guidance regarding the application of categorical exclusions for multimodal projects. One DOT agency can now use the categorical exclusions of another DOT agency for certain multimodal projects to expedite the environmental review process for these projects and speed infrastructure planning and construction.

Chao said DOT has also changed its highway reimbursement policy to allow states to buy safety equipment directly, rather than just lease.

DOT, said Chao, will shortly publish a Federal Register notice soliciting a new round of applications for the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program.

The changes come one month after President Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at streamlining the permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects.

 

 

 

 

 

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