Federal Transportation Agencies Issue Interim NEPA Guidance

On January 14, 2013, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued joint guidance for implementing Section 1319 of the new Transportation Bill to streamline the final steps in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process regarding producing a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and issuing the Record of Decision (ROD). Streamlining of the NEPA process for road and rail projects was an essential component of the October 1, 2012 transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) (Pub. L. No. 112-141) (to be codified at 42 U.S.C. § 4332(a)).

This new statute amends NEPA, and therefore the law will apply to all federal agencies and any federal action subject to NEPA. The recently issued transportation guidance will be of special interest to transportation agencies and private clients relying upon new or upgraded roads and transit. This new guidance encourages abbreviated FEIS documents, using simple errata sheets and the draft EIS, rather than producing another lengthy document. The guidance also provides criteria for merging the FEIS and the ROD into a single document. Each of these provisions is described within.

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