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Subject: INFORMATION: Additional Flexibilities In Categorical Exclusions Date: June 12, 2018
From: Gloria M. Shepherd
Associate Administrator For Planning, Environment, and Realty
In Reply Refer To: HEP-1
To: Director of Field Services
Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway
Division Engineers

The FHWA has compiled a list of activities that may be undergoing more detailed NEPA processing than required by law.  This memo identifies additional flexibilities for accelerating project delivery without negatively impacting the human and natural environment.  The FHWA wishes to ensure its division offices and grantees are aware that the actions described below normally should qualify as categorical exclusions (CE) under
23 CFR 771.117(c) (known as (c)-list CEs), resulting in less extensive processing than is presently performed.

Division office staff should share the information below with their State DOT partners and promote this flexibility related to CE actions that routinely can be processed as (c)-list CEs without further NEPA review or the approval of the FHWA division office.

The following provides examples of activities currently processed as CEs under 23 CFR 771.117(d) that may be considered a CE under 771.117(c)(22) when the project is located within the existing operational right-of-way or a CE under 771.117(c)(23) if the project utilizes less than $5,403,484.88 of Federal funding (adjusted annually by the Secretary to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index)1 :

  1. Transportation corridor fringe parking facilities (d)(4)
  2. Construction of new truck weigh stations or rest areas (d)(5)
  3. Approvals for joint or limited use of right-of-way (d)(6), when the use is within the existing operational right-of-way.

Division office staff should remind their State DOT partners of the need to consider unusual circumstances (i.e., significant environmental impacts or substantial controversy on environmental grounds), consistent with 23 CFR 771.117(b), in making these CE determinations, as well as the potential applicability of other environmental requirements such as Section 4(f) (23 U.S.C. 138), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

The FHWA may designate additional (c)-list CEs in the future through rulemaking or the individual State programmatic categorical exclusion agreements.

Any questions or requests for assistance should be directed to Dr. Owen Lindauer, HEPE, at (202) 366-2655) or