ADOT given environmental-review authority for some projects

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently entered into an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration that gives the agency environmental-review authority for projects that do not have significant environmental impacts.

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These types of projects are called categorical exclusions (CE) and include activities such as renovating rest areas and installing fencing.

Congress established the CE Assignment program to expedite environmental review and gave states the decision-making and legal authority to meet federal environmental laws and the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

To qualify, projects must not relocate a significant number of people and must not significantly affect air, noise or water quality. The projects also cannot significantly affect travel patterns, planned growth or land use, culture, recreation, historic sites or other resources.

Projects may require coordination to confirm whether the designation categorical exclusion is appropriate and also may require additional environmental analysis.

“Gov. (Doug) Ducey has challenged state agencies to eliminate red tape and work at the speed of business, and this agreement allows ADOT to accomplish both,” Dallas Hammit, ADOT state engineer and deputy director for transportation, said. “We can manage projects more efficiently while continuing to meet strict environmental requirements.”

Seven other states – Alaska, California, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, and Utah – have signed similar agreements.