Interagency Guidance: Transportation Funding
for Federal Agency Coordination
Associated with Environmental Streamlining Activities
II. KEY POINTS
Several funding mechanisms and relevant activities associated with developing Federal cost-reimbursement agreements are identified. The information reflects common elements contained in interagency agreements where the Federal resource agencies, FHWA Division offices, and State DOTs are accomplishing environmental streamlining goals. SAFETEA-LU identifies activities that are eligible for funding to include transportation planning activities that precede the initiation of the environmental review process, dedicated staffing, training of agency personnel, information gathering and mapping, and development of programmatic agreements. Interagency agreements should include an explanation of how the funded activity will expedite time limits for environmental reviews that are less than the customary time necessary for such review. Where a proposal is to fund activities that are not project-specific, such as process improvement or programmatic agreements, the criteria relating to environmental review time limits will be deemed satisfied so long as the efforts are designated to produce a reduction in the customary time for environmental reviews. A baseline of current activities and the associated times would be very helpful in this explanation. The approvals for the additional funding may only be for amounts that are necessary for the Federal agencies, the State agencies, or Federally recognized Indian tribes to meet the shorter time limits for the environmental review and related activities, or to complete the additional planning or program activities that result in expedited reviews.
In addition to the funding efforts described in this guidance, FHWA and FTA field offices should continue to work with State DOTs and Federal resource agencies to explore ways to collectively "work smarter" through informal cooperative and programmatic approaches. The use of other communication techniques (e.g., the respective environmental streamlining and RE: NEPA websites, and videoconferencing) that can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of interagency coordination is also encouraged. The following information is included in the appendices:
- Appendix A: Template for interagency agreements involving additional personnel;
- Appendix B: Examples of interagency agreements currently being used by several State DOTs, including a summary of lessons learned/best practices used to expedite reviews;
- Appendix C: A report by the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence on DOT funded positions (May 2005). This report presents the results of an effort to survey fifty State DOTs regarding their funding and/or staff support to resource agencies to facilitate consultation and expedite permit processing; and
- Appendix D: FHWA specific guidance for using Section 139(j) funds.
Please refer to FHWA's website: http://environment.fhwa.dot.gov/index.asp for additional information regarding current environmental streamlining activities, references, and best practices.