FHWA Memorandum - Categorical Exclusion (CE) Documentation and Approval
U. S. Department of
Federal Highway Administration
Date: March 30, 1989
From: Director, Office of Environmental Policy Washington, D.C. 20590
Reply to Attn. of: HEV-1
To: Regional Federal Highway Administrators Direct Federal Program Administrator
The attached programmatic
model provides what we believe is a workable framework which any Division
Office could employ or modify for its own purposes to more expeditiously
and efficiently document and approve CEs which qualify for a CE determination
under 23 CFR Part 771.117(d). For the projects which meet the conditions
stipulated, individual project-by-project review, documentation, and approval
are not required by the Division Office, since the programmatic would
constitute a one-time advance documentation and approval.
Consistent with the
Federal Highway administration's (FHWA's) program management policy, the
Division Offices would need to make periodic reviews of the States' procedures
and documentation to ensure that all potential environmental impacts are
being considered and compliance with all applicable laws, regulations,
executive orders, etc., is being properly documented. This should reduce
paperwork and effort yet maintain acceptable control over the projects.
model was developed from the several worthwhile approaches we noted in
analyzing information the field provided us on the processing of CEs under
the revised 23 CFR 771. We estimate that the use of the preapproval inherent
in 23 CFR 771.117(c) and this programmatic model for many of the projects
which qualify as CEs under 23 CFR 771.117(d) would obviate the need for
project specific review for 85 percent or more of CEs. As such, this approach
is consistent with the recently distributed Program Delivery Report.
To obtain FHWA approval
for those projects that do not satisfy the stipulated conditions 3-6 in
the programmatic, e.g., projects which use wetlands, Section 4(f) properties
or more than minor amounts of right-of-ways, etc., the State would need
to submit supporting information for each individual project which would
clearly establish that there is little or no potential for significant
A number of approaches
may be used by the Division Office and the State highway administration
to document the CE classification. For example, the annual 105 program
of projects or a periodic listing of projects which identifies those projects
which are pre-approved and those which meet the terms of the programmatic
could be submitted to the Division Office. Other CE classifications could
be individually approved using a "batch" process, whereby a number of
similar projects, e.g., bridge replacements, are reviewed, documented,
and approved at one time.
We strongly encourage
you to promote a more efficient CE approval process in those Division
Offices where efficiency can be improved. The attached is a recommended
approach which the Division Offices could explore with the States. It
is not the only approach, and possibly would need to be modified to meet
certain State or local conditions, but it does provide a good starting
/ Original signed
Ali F. Sevin
The State highway
administration (SHA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concur
in advance with the classification of those types of Categorical Exclusions
(CES), identified in 23 CFR Part 771.117(d) with no environmental impacts.
The SHA certifies that all the conditions indicated in this blanket classification
will be satisfied for all of the projects processed under this programmatic
classification and approval process.
which qualify as CEs under 23 CFR 771.117(d), that meet the criteria of
23 CFR 771.117(a) may be designated as CEs upon the submission of documentation
which demonstrates that the specific conditions or criteria for those
CEs are satisfied and that significant environmental impacts will not
The following conditions
will apply to those actions which qualify under 23 CFR 771.117(d) that
are processed by the SHA under this programmatic approach. If one or more
of the following conditions are not satisfied, separate environmental
documentation which demonstrates that the specific conditions or criteria
for the CEs are satisfied and that significant environmental impacts will
not result, will be submitted to the FHWA to support the classification.
- The action does
not have any significant environmental impacts as described in 23 CFR
action does not involve unusual circumstances as described in 23 CFR 771.117(b).
action does not involve the following:
- The acquisition
of more than minor amounts of temporary or permanent strips of right-of-way*
for construction of such items as clear vision corners and grading.
Such acquisitions will not require any commercial or residential displacements.
- The use of properties
protected by Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (49
- A determination
of adverse effect by the State Historic Preservation Officer.
- Any U.S. Coast
Guard construction permits or any US Army Corps of Engineers Section
* Note: Although
a precise definition is not required, one State has defined a minor
amount of right-of-way as not more than 10 percent of a parcel for parcels
under 10 acres in size, 1 acre for parcels 10 to 100 acres in size and
1 percent of the parcel for parcels greater than 100 acres in size.
- Any work in wetlands.
- Any work encroaching
on a regulatory floodway or any work affecting the base floodplain (100-year
flood) elevations of a water course or lake.
in, across or adjacent to a river designated as a component or proposed
for inclusion in the National System of Wild and Scenic Rivers published
by the US Department of the Interior/US Department of Agriculture.
- Any changes in
- The use of a
temporary road, detour or ramp closure unless the use of such facilities
satisfy the following conditions:
are made for access by local traffic and so posted.
- Through-traffic dependent business will not be adversely affected.
- The detour or ramp closure, to the extent possible, will not interfere
with any local special event or festival.
- The temporary road, detour or ramp closure does not substantially
change the environmental consequences of the action.
- There is no substantial controversy associated with the temporary
road, detour, or ramp closure.
- Any known hazardous
materials sites or previous land uses with potential for hazardous materials
remains within the right-of-way.
- The action conforms
to the Air Quality Implementation Plan which is approved or promulgated
by the Environmental Protection Agency in air quality non-attainment areas.
- The action is consistent
with the State's Coastal Zone Management Plan as determined by the appropriate
- The action occurs
in an area where there are no federally listed endangered or threatened
species or critical habitat.
made by the SHA under this blanket classification will be documented.
The documentation will be available for FHWA review upon request.
A list of the individual
projects classified under this blanket classification will be furnished
to the FHWA Division Office prior to final design activities, property
acquisition (with the exception of hardship and protective buying), or