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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT, FTA propose streamlining environmental reviews for some transit projects


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have proposed changes to the environmental review process for certain transit projects that could shave more than a year off project timelines.

The proposed changes would enable transit projects that “clearly do not have a significant impact on the local environment” — such as lines built within an existing right of way where transit or other transportation modes already operate — to undergo a less-intensive National Environmental Policy Act review, USDOT officials said in a press release.

For qualified projects, agencies would need to submit less documentation. Instead, project sponsors, and state and regional transportation authorities would be encouraged to consider environmental impacts sooner as part of the planning process. The FTA also would encourage agencies to post all environmental impact statements and environmental records of decision on its website.

Projects that have the potential for significant environmental impacts still would be subject to a more thorough review, USDOT and FTA officials said.

A notice of proposed rulemaking, “Environmental Impact and Related Procedures,” appeared in the Federal Register on March 15. A 60-day public comment period now is under way.

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More News from 3/19/2012