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American Shipper

USDOT looks to streamline environmental review process for multimodal projects

Under a new proposed change from the U.S. Department of Transportation, multimodal projects would be required to follow only one process, rather than multiple agency processes, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a recent speech.

   The Deptartment of Transportation has issued revised guidelines that will act to streamline the environmental review process for multimodal projects, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao said in a recent speech.
   A “multimodal project” is defined as one that requires the approval of more than one DOT operating administration or secretarial office.
   In remarks made Sept. 27 at the annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ meeting in Phoenix, Chao revealed that the DOT proposal, which was sent to the Federal Register last week, would change regulations so that multimodal projects would be required to follow only one process rather than multiple agency processes.
   Specifically, the regulatory change would “harmonize” the Federal Railroad Administration’s environmental review process with those of the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.
   “One DOT agency can now use the categorical exclusions of another DOT agency for certain multimodal projects,” the Dept. of Transportation explained in a statement. “This change will expedite the environmental review process for these projects so infrastructure can be delivered more quickly.”
   The DOT said it expects this multimodal process to be used primarily for individual projects, although the statute provides the flexibility to apply it to a group or a program of multimodal projects.
   “The Department of Transportation is committed to identifying ways to eliminate unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy that will save states time, money and reduce burdensome compliance costs,” Chao said in her speech. “Important new regulatory and policy changes are underway at the Department to help deliver infrastructure projects faster, and in a more cost-effective manner.”
   The revised guidelines also state that most concrete and steel bridges built after 1945 are to be exempt from historic sites review.

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