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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AASHTO: USDOT to streamline environmental rules to speed up project delivery


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is expected to issue a final rule today that would streamline environmental requirements in order to speed up the permitting of rail and other surface transportation projects.

In a conference call held last week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noted that the 131-page final rule would modify certain regulations to include the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), giving it the same flexibility that the FHWA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have when it comes to environmental procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to a report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The change should "eliminate confusion and increase efficiency" in terms of documentation requirements, AASHTO officials said.

The new rule would reduce duplication of environmental reporting efforts between the FHWA, FRA and FTA. It also would reiterate the ability of state agencies to produce a single environmental document, as well as combine a final environmental impact statement with a record of decision document, AASHTO reported.

Moreover, the rule would allow for greater flexibility on projects that occur within the operational right-of-way through the use of "categorial exclusions."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/29/2018