Questions and Answers about the Wizard
- Can resource and permitting agencies be involved in review timeframes if they are not cooperating agencies?
Permitting agencies certainly can, and often should be involved. Any other agency certainly can be involved, but with the limitations of resources (time and staff), it seems unlikely that many would.
- Will the data/results in the Wizard be viewable by the State DOT?
Yes, the Wizard will be a downloadable program on the FHWA streamlining website.
- Another emphasis in NEPA project development is to conduct a thorough public involvement effort and do Context Sensitive Design (which takes some time to pursue). These seem to be in conflict with the expedited time frames described under "negotiated time frames."
We are finding that the extra effort with public involvement and CSS upfront, actually reduces the time delays that often occur later on in the project development process.
- When is it appropriate to revise a negotiated timeframe, and when should we not (and admit that we failed to meet the timeframe)?
For EIS projects, the "lock-in" time is 30 days after the close of the DEIS comment period. After that date, there are to be no additional time revisions made to the schedule. For EA projects, the "lock-in" time is 30 days after the close of the comment period for the EA.
- Will the Wizard be developed to incorporate some of the year-end data calls, i.e., wetlands impacted/mitigated, T&E species expenditures, etc?
Certainly this could be a possibility-yet at this time, it is not being developed as such.
- What are the various acceptable forms of developing a negotiated time frame? consultation, e-mail, contract?
Whatever form is suitable and most convenient to the project situation and for the agencies and partners involved. Remember that the negotiated timeframe will become part of the project record, so it needs to be in some written form.
- To what extent has FHWA collaborated with other federal agencies in establishing this requirement for negotiated timeframes? Is there a commitment to providing sufficient resources for agencies to be able to negotiate timeframes and meet their commitments?
"Negotiation" implies that an agency has an ability to make commitments, in good faith.
FHWA has led discussions about negotiated timeframes at each of the 11 regional Collaborative Problem Solving workshops recently held. At these workshops, and involved in these discussions, were representatives from the federal resource and permitting agencies. Their input into these discussions has been noted and has been used to develop this guidance.
- How many EAs reported in the FHWA Environmental Document Tracking System (EDTS) have been converted to EISs? How "old" were these EAs when they were converted?
Neither of those things has been tracked by EDTS.
- How do you intend to deal with the planning requirements for fiscal constraint when it's uncertain what the funding will be in the 20 year plan? And you can't complete the FEIS until an air quality analysis is performed?
These are things that need to be documented as they occur, if they cause project delay into the project tracking system (Wizard or EDTS).
- If timeframes are to be "negotiated," how can the median timeframe EIS goal be set at 36 months without knowing the complexity of the specific project?
The goal to reach a national median time of 36 months for EIS projects is a different objective from the negotiated timeframes goal. It is not expected that all EIS projects will be completed in 36 months--some will be longer and some may be quicker.
We are hoping that with efficient project management, and use of negotiated timeframes, the environmental review process can be completed in a timelier manner.
- How will tribal governments be assumed into the negotiated timeframes that they often have their own priorities?
This is a good question, and an area that will be challenging. Getting tribal governments involved as early as possible to discuss theirs and ours expectations in the process should be a helpful start. Attempts should be made to include their time schedules into the project time frames.
- What tools are available now to help States implement negotiated timeframes? Has FHWA developed training, templates or best practices?
The guidance on negotiated timeframes that has been sent out to the Divisions, EDTS, and the Wizard, that is under development now are some of the tools available. We will be discussion any additional steps along this line as a follow-up on this web conference. Please feel free to offer suggestions.
For questions or feedback on this subject, please contact Gerry Flood at 617-494-3848. For general questions or web problems, please send feedback to the web administrator.
Back to top