Wednesday, April 12, 2023
RFI seeks public input on ways to improve the environmental review process, reduce delays for surface transportation projects including intercity rail and public transportation
- FHWA seeks public input on the implementation of section 60505: Environmental Review Implementation Funds, of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
WASHINGTON – As part of an ongoing effort to help deliver surface transportation projects faster, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on environmental review processes that can be improved under the Inflation Reduction Act.
FHWA will consider ideas and recommendations from public and private stakeholders on how to reduce project delays through the development of more efficient and effective environmental reviews.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, we now have historic funding to bring better roads, bridges, railways, highways and transit to the American people,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “To make the most of that funding, we are stepping up efforts to help communities deliver their transportation projects on time, on task, and on budget.”
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides guidance and resources to several Federal agencies to facilitate efficient and effective reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act and other Federal processes. This could include identifying new strategies that would mitigate environmental impacts and thereby reduce timeframes for environmental reviews.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is providing the nation with historic investments and new opportunities to build an economy that works for working families,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Our goal with this request for information is to identify new strategies and evidence-based solutions that can both increase the efficiency of environmental reviews and reduce delays when it comes to delivering projects.”
The IRA includes Environmental Review Implementation Program funds to be administered by FHWA to support environmental reviews of surface transportation projects, including intercity rail projects funded by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and public transportation projects funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The funds may also be used by FHWA to develop guidance, technical assistance, templates, training, or other tools to facilitate an efficient and effective environmental review process for surface transportation projects. In order to use the Environmental Review Implementation Funds optimally, FHWA is seeking information through the RFI on what the agency should consider while implementing the funds.
“Like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the IRA provides unprecedented investment opportunities for America’s transportation system,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose. “Delivering great projects on time and budget requires careful planning and strong execution. Like the Capital Project Guidance FRA recently issued, this RFI will enhance project delivery across the board.”
“Building great projects quickly is important to realizing the promise of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “Collecting feedback from transit project leaders will help us support the industry in advancing expeditious project delivery while aligning with our intent for an efficient environmental review process.”
FHWA is also seeking information on:
- the types of assistance that would be most beneficial to recipients of direct funding and facilitate an efficient and effective environmental review process for surface transportation projects;
- what program areas would most benefit from new or continued research; and,
- ways in which FHWA can make resources available to the eligible entities while promoting equity and maximizing the opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the environmental review process.
FHWA also hopes to learn of additional opportunities to make improvements or accelerate the environmental review process for existing surface transportation programs, in addition to other State, local, and tribal programs.
The Environmental Review Implementation Program builds on FHWA’s ongoing efforts to implement efficiencies in project delivery and environmental review. These efforts include consulting with other federal agencies on program-level actions; considering benefits and impacts to the environment during the transportation planning process; providing transportation liaisons in resource and regulatory agencies, such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Army Corps of Engineers; and integrating NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and environmental permitting.
Comments in response to FHWA’s RFI, “Inflation Reduction Act, Request for Information,” can be submitted at regulations.gov. The RFI is expected be published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2023. For more information on the IRA, please visit www.CleanEnergy.gov.
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