Environmental Review Toolkit
Section 4(f)

Back to SAFETEA-LU Section 6009 Implementation Study

Appendix F. Pre-interview Questionnaire for Transportation Agencies and Interview Guides

Pre-Interview Questionnaire

Instructions: Prior to your scheduled telephone interview, please complete and return to Gina Filosa (email: gina.filosa@dot.gov or fax: 617.494.3260) at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center.

I. Contact Information:
Name:
Title:
Agency:
State:

II. Please check one answer for each question.

Yes No Unsure
1. Does your agency currently define milestones for the Section 4(f) process, e.g. start date, end date, other milestones (please identify)?
Comments:
2. Prior to SAFETEA-LU, did your agency collect data on the total time elapsed from start to end of the Section 4(f) process?
Comments:
3. Prior to SAFETEA-LU, did your agency collect data on the costs associated with conducting Section 4(f) activities?
Comments:
4. Since the passage of SAFETEA-LU, has your agency collected data on the total time elapsed from start to end of the Section 4(f) process?
Comments:
5. Since the passage of SAFETEA-LU, has your agency collected data on the costs associated with the Section 4(f) process?
Comments:
6. Has your agency analyzed data trends related to use of the new de minimis impact provision?
Comments:
7. Does your agency have data on the number of programmatic Section 4(f) evaluations completed between 2002 and 2008?

If Yes:
A. Number of Programmatic Evaluations from 2002-2005: ____________
B. Number of Programmatic Evaluations from 2005-2008: ____________

Comments:

8. How has Section 4f processing times changed with the de minimis impact provision?
_____ Processing times are now Shorter
_____ No Change
_____ Processing times are now longer
_____ Not Sure/Unclear

Comments:

9. How has Section 4f processing costs changed with the de minimis impact provision?
_____ Costs less
_____ No Change
_____ Costs More
_____ Not Sure/Unclear

Comments:

10. Based on your experience with the de minimis impact provision thus far, how has the de minimis impact provision affected the following (Please check one answer for each question):
Improved No
Change
Negatively
Affected
Unsure N/A
Transportation project's outcome(s)
Protection of the Section 4(f) resource(s)
Timeliness for complying with Section 4(f) requirements
Cost of complying with the Section 4(f) process

Comments:

11. On a scale of 1- 5, please rate how the following de minimis impact provision factors have played a role (if any) in changing the time/cost of complying with the Section 4(f) process. The scale definitions are as follows:

1 — Significantly reduced the time/cost associated with completing the Section 4(f) process, compared with procedures prior to the enactment of the de minimis impact provision.

2 — Somewhat reduced the time/cost associated with completing the Section 4(f) process, compared with procedures prior to the enactment of the de minimis impact provision.

3 — No impact on the time/cost associated with completing the Section 4(f) process.

4 — Somewhat increased the time/cost associated with completing the Section 4(f) process, compared with procedures prior to the enactment of the de minimis impact provision.

5 — Significantly increased the time/cost associated with completing the Section 4(f) process, compared with procedures prior to the enactment of the de minimis impact provision.

Elimination of the requirement to obtain DOI comments 1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
Elimination of the FHWA/FTA legal sufficiency review process 1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
Elimination of the requirement to design and evaluate alternatives 1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
Addition of the public comment and review requirements
(for parks, recreation areas, and refuges)
1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
Being able to rely on a Section 106 determination to reach a
4(f) determination (for historic properties)
1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
Other — Please specify: _____________________________ 1 2 3 4 5 Unsure N/A
12. Please provide any additional comments below:

 

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Interview Guide — Transportation Agency with at Least One de minimis Impact Finding

BACKGROUND

1.

How long have you worked at the Transportation Agency?

2.

How long have you worked in the Section 4(f) arena? Do you have pre- and post- SAFETEA-LU experience?

3.

What is your role in the Section 4(f) process?

KNOWLEDGE

4.

Did you receive training on the new de minimis impact provision?

5.

Do you believe you have sufficient understanding of the de minimis impact provision to implement it correctly?

6.

Where do you go for guidance on the de minimis impact process?

7.

Are there specific types of guidance or trainings that you believe would be helpful in implementing the de minimis impact provision?

PROCESS

8.

Describe your process for determining if a project has a de minimis impact on a Section 4(f) resource.

  • Who defines the “activities, features, and attributes” of the 4(f) property?
  • What criteria do you use to determine if the project has an adverse effect on those activities, features, and attributes?
  • Do the criteria differ by the type of Section 4(f) resource impacted? (i.e. historic vs parks).

9.

Since SAFETEA-LU has your state developed new 4(f) and/or de minimis impact guidance?

Coordination with the Official with Jurisdiction

10.

Describe the process for obtaining concurrence from the official with jurisdiction.

  • Is there a template or standard language used?

11.

Has your relationship or the way you interact with the officials with jurisdiction changed as a result of the de minimis impact provision?

12.

Have stakeholders been reluctant to engage in the de minimis impact provision?

13.

How many (if any) de minimis impact requests been rejected by the official with jurisdiction?

  • What happens when agencies refuse to concur? Does this add time?

14.

How many de minimis impact requests have been rejected by FHWA?

Public Involvement

15.

Describe your public notice and public involvement process for the de minimis impact provision.

  • What are the time and costs associated with conducting the public notice and comment review process?

TRANSPORTATION PROJECT IMPACTS

16.

For project X, did the original design of the project change in order to achieve a de minimis impact level?

  • In your opinion, did the new design change the transportation outcome?
  • What was the relative cost of these new design measures to the overall project cost?

17.

For project X, were any mitigation measures included for the purpose of minimizing impacts on the Section 4(f) property in order to achieve a de minimis impact finding?

  • Follow up: What was the impetus for including those mitigation measures? (i.e. were mitigation measures including in order to secure a de minimis impact finding?)
  • What amount of time is needed to securing/agreeing on those mitigation measures?

18.

(FOR CONSTRUCTED PROJECTS) Were the mitigation commitments implemented? If no, why?

19.

For project X, was any feedback/input received during the public review process? What types of comments were received? Who commented? Were “they” the users of the 4(f) resource?

  • Did the public comments result in any changes in the project?

EFFECTS OF THE DE MINIMIS IMPACT PROVISION

20.

How do you define “efficiency” as related to the de minimis impact process?

  • Do you measure efficiency? If so, how?

21.

How do you define “effectiveness” as related to the de minimis impact process?

  • Do you measure effectiveness? If so, how?

RESOURCE OUTCOMES

22.

For completed projects where a de minimis impact finding was made — did the “activities, features, and attributes” of the property change as a result of the transportation project? If so, how?

TIME/COST SAVINGS

23.

Prior to SAFETEA-LU and de minimis impact how would you have processed 4(f) for project X? (individual or programmatic?)

24.

How would that have changed the time required to complete the 4(f) process (e.g. shorter, longer, same timeframe)? (Please identify where specific time impacts occurred).

25.

How would that have changed the time required to complete the environmental compliance process (NEPA, other permitting requirements)?

26.

How would that have changed the cost required to complete the 4(f) process? (Please identify where specific cost impacts occurred).

27.

In your opinion, were there any unanticipated positive or negative impacts from using the de minimis impact process compared with having followed the 4(f) process?

28.

Are there state laws protecting the resource that affect the time and cost of making a de minimis impact determination? If so, what are they?

Other comments:

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INTERVIEW GUIDE — State Historic Preservation Office

BACKGROUND

1.

How long have you worked in your positions? From which year to which year?

2.

Describe your role in the Section 4(f) process.

3.

Did you have any Section 4(f) experience prior to your current position? Please describe that role — where and when

4.

Does your state have a programmatic agreement in place that allows the State DOT to undertake activities under Section 106 on behalf of FHWA? (If there is an MOU, did you have to amend the MOU to address the de minimis impact provision?)

5.

How would you describe your relationship with the transportation agency? With the FHWA DOT/FTA Region (as relevant)?

KNOWLEDGE

6.

Did you receive training on the new de minimis impact provision? (Please describe when you received the training, who conducted the training, and the length and format of the training.)

7.

Do you believe you have sufficient understanding of the de minimis impact provision? Describe why or why not.

8.

Where do you go (or whom do you approach) for guidance on the de minimis impact process?

9.

Are there specific types of guidance or trainings that you believe would be helpful in implementing the de minimis impact provision? Please describe.

PROCESS

10.

Describe your concurrence process for a de minimis impact finding.

  • How and when does the transportation agency inform the SHPO of its intention to make a de minimis impact finding? Is this done on a case by case basis or through an MOA?
  • How do you provide concurrence with a “no adverse effect” or “no historic properties affected” finding — by formal letter, email, etc? Do you use a template or standard language used?
  • Have you experienced any changes in your role or in the consultation process due to the de minimis impact provision? For example, in developing options to mitigate or minimize harm to historic properties?

11.

Has your relationship or the way you interact with the transportation agency changed as a result of the de minimis impact provision? If yes, please describe how.

12.

Have you ever/Has your office ever felt pressure to concur with the de minimis impact finding? How so?

13.

Has there been an instance when you have not concurred with the de minimis impact finding? If so, please describe the process for moving forward.

EFFECTS OF THE DE MINIMIS IMPACT PROVISION

14.

How do you define “efficiency” as related to the Section 4(f) and de minimis impact processes?

  • Do you measure efficiency? If so, how?

15.

How do you define “effectiveness” as related to the Section 4(f) and de minimis impact processes?

  • Do you measure effectiveness? If so, how?

RESOURCE OUTCOMES

16.

On the basis of your experience thus far, how do you feel the use of the de minimis impact provision has generally affected the protection of Section 4(f) resources?

17.

For project X — did the “activities, features, and attributes” of the property change as a result of the transportation project? If so, how?

18.

In your opinion, were there any unanticipated effects (positive or negative) to the 4(f) resource from using the de minimis impact process? Please describe what those effects were.

TIME/COST SAVINGS

19.

For project X, did you face any time/cost burdens due to the new de minimis impact process? Describe. How were these documented?

20.

For project X, did you experience any time/costs savings due to the de minimis impact finding process being coupled with the Section 106 process?

21.

Are there state laws that you are aware of, that protect the resource and may have an effect on the time and costs associated with making a de minimis impact determination? If so, what are they?

Other comments:

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INTERVIEW GUIDE — Park, Recreation Area and Wildlife & Waterfowl Refuge Officials

BACKGROUND

1.

How long have you worked in your current position)? From which year to which year?

2.

Describe your role in the Section 4(f) process.

3.

Did you have any Section 4(f) experience prior to your current positions? Please describe that role — where and when

4.

How would you describe your relationship with the transportation agency? With the FHWA DOT/FTA Region (as relevant)?

KNOWLEDGE

5.

Did you receive training on the new de minimis impact provision? (Please describe when you received the training, who conducted the training, and the length and format of the training.)

6.

Do you believe you have sufficient understanding of the de minimis impact provision? Describe why or why not.

7.

Where do you go (or whom do you approach) for guidance on the de minimis impact process?

8.

Are there specific types of guidance or trainings that you believe would be helpful in implementing the de minimis impact provision? Please describe.

PROCESS

9.

Describe your concurrence process for a de minimis impact finding.

  • How and when does the transportation agency inform you of its intention to make a de minimis impact finding?
  • How do you provide concurrence that a project will have “no adverse effect” on the Section 4(f) property — by formal letter, email, etc? Do you use a template or is standard language used?
  • Have you experienced any changes in your role or in the consultation process due to the de minimis impact provision? For example, in developing options to mitigate or minimize harm to the 4(f) properties?

10.

Has your relationship or the way you interact with the transportation agency changed as a result of the de minimis impact provision? If yes, please describe how.

11.

Have you ever/Has your office ever felt pressure to concur with the de minimis impact finding? How so?

12.

Has there been an instance when you have not concurred with the de minimis impact finding? If so, please describe the process for moving forward.

EFFECTS OF THE DE MINIMIS IMPACT PROVISION

13.

How do you define “efficiency” as related to the Section 4(f) and de minimis impact processes?

  • Do you measure efficiency? If so, how?

14.

How do you define “effectiveness” as related to the Section 4(f) and de minimis impact processes?

  • Do you measure effectiveness? If so, how?

RESOURCE OUTCOMES

15.

On the basis of your experience thus far, how do you feel the use of the de minimis impact provision has generally affected the protection of Section 4(f) resources?

16.

For project X — did the “activities, features, and attributes” of the property change as a result of the transportation project? If so, how?

17.

For project X — where the planned mitigation measures actually implemented?

18.

For project X — has user satisfaction with the property changed as a result of the project?

19.

In your opinion, were there any unanticipated effects (positive or negative) to the 4(f) resource from using the de minimis impact process? Please describe what those effects were.

TIME/COST SAVINGS

20.

For project X, did you face any time/cost burdens due to the new de minimis impact process? Describe. How were these documented?

21.

Are there state laws that you are aware of that protect the resource and may have an effect on the time and costs associated with making a de minimis impact determination? If so, what are they?

Other comments:

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