Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Successes in Stewardship
Monthly Newsletter
August 2002

Interagency Funding Agreements Foster Streamlining:
FHWA's Guidance on Use of TEA-21 Funds to Expedite Reviews


Cathy Brittingham, a NC Division of Coastal Management 	staff member whose position is funded by NCDOT, working closely with Charles Bruton of NCDOT at a Mitigation Process Improvement Workshop. (NCDOT image)
Cathy Brittingham, a NC Division of Coastal Management staff member whose position is funded by NCDOT, working closely with Charles Bruton of NCDOT at a Mitigation Process Improvement Workshop.
(NCDOT image)


Interagency Funding Agreements Foster Streamlining

Implementing environmental streamlining initiatives and meeting time limits for reviews requires Federal, state, and local transportation and resource agencies to coordinate early and regularly. However, many state and Federal resource agencies do not have enough staff to participate in activities to expedite the transportation process. To help overcome this obstacle, many state departments of transportation (DOTs) are using interagency funding agreements to hire additional staff at state and Federal resource agencies. The work of funded staff must have a measurable impact in reducing the time it takes to complete environmental reviews on specific projects. Dedicated to reviewing transportation projects and making permit decisions, funded staff help state DOTs develop quality transportation and environmental solutions earlier and at less cost.

Section 1309(e) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) allows states to use Federal-aid funds to provide additional resources to Federal agencies. To help guide the development of interagency funding agreements, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finalized its "Interagency Guidance: Transportation Funding for Federal Agency Coordination Associated with Environmental Streamlining Activities" in February 2002. FHWA developed the guidance with input from the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and state DOTs. The guidance includes the following:

  • Instructions for developing interagency funding agreements, including what key elements to include.
  • A recommended template for interagency funding agreements.
  • Examples of current interagency funding agreements.
  • A summary of lessons learned and best practices used by states to expedite reviews.
  • Descriptions of eligible activities and other funding mechanisms.

Tips for Developing Funding Agreements

  • Include job descriptions and performance measures to set expectations and ensure involvement in the transportation process by funded staff.
  • Include dispute resolution procedures for participating agencies.
  • Establish agreements for at least two to three years to allow for recruitment and training of qualified staff.
  • Designate one state DOT staff person to administer funding agreements.
  • Work closely with resource agencies to interview and select candidates.
  • Train new hires in the transportation project development and NEPA processes.
  • Meet often with funded staff and resource agencies to discuss what is and is not working.

Where to Find FHWA's Interagency Guidance

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/strmlng/igdocs/index.asp

Environmental Streamlining section of the Re: NEPA website.

Over half of all state DOTs fund or provide over 160 dedicated transportation positions nationwide. Here are a few examples of states with existing funding agreements.

State Positions Funded Purpose Benefits
Maryland 3 positions (USACE, FWS, EPA) since 2000
  • Assure resource agency involvement in planning and project development.

  • Expedite permitting and project reviews.
  • Improved interagency communication and understanding of other agencies' missions.
North Carolina 22 positions (FWS, EPA, state agencies) since early 1990s
  • Expedite the project development process as the number of projects and the complexity of environmental regulations continue to grow.

  • Identify and resolve problems early.

  • Help implement a NEPA/404 merger.
  • Improved interagency communication, program delivery, and project quality.
Pennsylvania 18 positions (EPA, FWS, USACE, state agencies) since 1993
  • Expedite the review of documents.

  • Foster early coordination.
  • Improved quality of the project development process due to early identification of sensitive areas and issues.

  • Next step — Improved and earlier coordination with Metropolitan Planning Organizations and resource agencies.
South Carolina 4 positions (FWS, state agencies) since 2001
  • Provide staff for quick reviews necessitated by an accelerated state bonding program.
  • Reduced 401 permit time by 30 percent.

  • Reduced State Historic Preservation Office review time from 30 to 7 days.
Washington 32 liaisons (USACE, NMFS, FWS, EPA, state agencies) since late 1990s
  • Provide adequate staff for participation in pilot projects and streamlining activities.
  • Allowed quick processing of backlog of reviews and permitting work.

  • Next step — Develop performance measures and Memoranda of Agreements for positions.


FHWA-AASHTO Environmental Stewardship Demonstration Projects

Twenty-two states have registered environmental stewardship demonstrations, including MD, NC, PA, and SC. To learn more about these projects, visit:

http://www.itre.ncsu.edu/AASHTO/stewardship/projects.asp


Contact Information

Ruth Rentch
FHWA Office of NEPA Facilitation
400 7th St, SW
Room 3222
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: (202) 366-2034
Fax: (202) 366-7660
Email: ruth.rentch@fhwa.dot.gov

"Successes in Stewardship" is a Federal Highway Administration newsletter highlighting current environmental streamlining practices from around the country.

To subscribe, contact Cassandra Allwell at (617) 494-3997 or allwell@volpe.dot.gov

For more information on environmental streamlining, please visit: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/strmlng/index.asp.

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