Improving transportation project delivery with NEPA assignment : lessons learned from California and Texas
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The Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, or NEPA Assignment, authorizes the delegation of federal powers under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) for project reviews, permitting, and approvals. This program builds on past legislative efforts to streamline environmental reviews and documentation for the purposes of expediting federally funded highway projects by state DOTs. This research provides an interpretation of key roles, responsibilities, and requirements following the state’s assumption of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) responsibilities for NEPA reviews, decision-making, and formal consultation with resource agencies. The report draws exclusively from the California and Texas’ NEPA Assignment programs and progress made to date. In doing so, the report highlights the checks and balances of the NEPA Assignment program through monitoring performance management by both the DOTs and the FHWA, and addresses key administrative challenges during implementation from the state’s perspective. The report concludes with recommendations and lessons learned from the both states.