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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT announces new environmental review rule for transit, highway projects

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration jointly issued a final rule this week to speed up the delivery of certain transit and highway projects.

The new rule was designed to "significantly cut red tape while achieving better environmental outcomes" for certain projects under the National Environmental Policy Act process, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials said in a press release.

The projects include those to be built within an existing right of way where transportation already exists or projects that receive less than $5 million of federal funding.

The new rule encourages project sponsors and state and regional transportation authorities to build highway and transit projects with fewer impacts to reap the benefits of the quicker, simpler process, which requires less documentation for qualified projects, USDOT officials said.

“Every transportation project is unique, and not all projects require the same rigorous environmental review process that is necessary for much larger projects," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "These common-sense changes will help balance responsible environmental stewardship with delivering transportation solutions to communities more quickly — in some cases shaving more than a year off of the environmental review process.”

The final rule on "Environmental Impact and Related Procedures" has been published in the Federal Register. The rulemaking was required as part of MAP-21.

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More News from 1/16/2014