Environmental Review Toolkit

Transportation agencies need to partner with natural, cultural, and historic resource agencies to establish realistic timeframes for the environmental review of transportation projects. These partners need to work cooperatively to adhere to those timeframes while protecting and enhancing the environment.

The efficient and effective coordination of multiple environmental reviews, analyses, and permitting actions is essential to meeting the mandates for highway and transit projects under:

  • Federal statutes, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
  • Federal transportation authorizations, such as the Fixing America’s Transportation Act; and
  • Federal regulations, such as 23 CFR 771.

This section of the Toolkit provides information and guidance on how State and local transportation agencies can address and comply with environmental laws. Categories in this section include:

  • Federal Transportation Authorizations - This section covers environmental provisions established in current and past Federal transportation authorizations, including the FAST Act, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU) and provides guidance and resources for meeting their requirements.
  • NEPA Implementation - To the fullest extent possible, NEPA requires that the policies, regulations, and laws of the Federal Government be interpreted and administered in accordance with its environmental protection goals. NEPA also requires Federal agencies to use an interdisciplinary approach in planning and decisionmaking for any action that adversely impacts the environment. This section includes information on NEPA implementation, decisionmaking, documentation, and assignment.
  • Other Federal Legislation - Beyond NEPA and Federal transportation authorizations, transportation agencies also need to be aware of requirements established by other acts, regulations, and executive orders. This section provides information on other Federal legislation pertaining to the human and natural environments, for example the Civil Rights Act and the Endangered Species Act.
  • Section 4(f) - The Department of Transportation Act (DOT Act) of 1966 includes a special provision - Section 4(f) - which stipulates that FHWA and other DOT agencies cannot approve the use of land from publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or public and private historical sites unless the following conditions apply:
    There is no feasible and prudent avoidance alternative to the use of land; and the action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use; OR The Administration determines that the use of the property will have a de minimis impact.

For additional resources beyond those included on the Environmental Review Toolkit, visit the FHWA Policy and Guidance Center (PGC). The PGC provides a central location of laws, policies, and guidance about the Federal-aid Highway Program (FAHP), including legal documents, links to relevant legislation, memos, directives, and guidance to support FHWA’s mission and goals.