Integrated Transportation Decision-making at Maine DOT
Annual Progress Report
goal of ITD is to create a transportation planning and project development
- protects the human and
- enhances public
- increases public and
regulatory agency support for transportation decisions by MDOT and its
- results in balanced
transportation infrastructure development; and
- saves time and money.
will meet its ITD goal through the following measures:
- adopt clear and
consistent environmental policies and operating guidance;
- include the broad range
of human and natural environment considerations in transportation decision making
by MDOT and its transportation partners;
- reshape MDOT into an
organization with an institutionalized environmental ethic that directly
influences daily decision making;
- integrate existing
project review processes [including the requirements of the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Maine's Sensible Transportation Policy Act (STPA), and the federal Clean Water Act (Section 404), otherwise
referred to as the US Army Corps of Engineers'
Highway Methodology, and
other federal and State environmental reviews] and eliminate duplication;
- expand the use of
collaboration and consensus building, both internally and externally,
through stakeholder cooperation and participation; and
- establish a system of
clear accountability throughout MDOT for actions that affect environmental
ITD process addresses planning, location, design, right-of-way,
construction, maintenance, and environmental considerations in a coordinated
ITD promotes early impact
identification and analysis, as well as upfront definition of project purpose
Those approaches and other
ITD components foster the broad, open, and objective analyses anticipated under
NEPA, STPA, the Highway Methodology, and most recently, TEA-21 Environmental
the June 15, 2000 Status Report of the ITD Implementation Team, members
developed and prioritized a list of ITD implementation tasks. The top four work
items selected were:
- merger documents for
NEPA and STPA analyses and procedures, with the long-
term goal of
incorporating the Section 404/Highway Methodology, Section 4(f) and
Section 106 provisions as well;
- definition of roles and
responsibilities under ITD (who does what, and when);
categorical exclusions tailored to MDOT's program and project needs; and
- an ITD-
database structure, to be incorporated into the ProjEx system, that will
facilitate consideration of environmental factors during both planning (6-
plan, BTIP) and project development activities.
ITD Implementation Team originally deferred the preparation of the roles and
responsibilities outline until the completion of the merger documentation.
However, as a result of the Office of
Environmental Services Unit Review and the resulting reorganization,
responsibility and oversight for ITD and NEPA have been transferred to the
further reorganized Bureau of Planning.
Detailed descriptions of the four work items follow:
merger of the STPA, NEPA, and USACOE Highway Methodology processes is at the
heart of the ITD effort.
parallel or sequential processes, their activities will be concurrent,
with consolidated documentation and record-
keeping that satisfy all of
The objective of the merger
documentation is to provide MDOT staff and others guidance on how to meet NEPA,
STPA, and Highway Methodology requirements and to avoid duplication.
the Mid-Atlantic Transportation & Environment (MATE) Streamlining Framework
as a model, a "
Environmental Streamlining process was drafted to
identify agency responsibilities, expectations, and pivotal decision points for
achieving process efficiencies.
currently working with numerous State and federal agencies at the monthly
interagency meetings to implement the following:
"Ten Steps" (from planning to project
- Transportation Planning Process
Purpose and Need
Detailed Alternatives Analysis and Draft NEPA Document
Identification of Preferred Alternative and Conceptual Mitigation
Final NEPA Document
Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision
Final Project Design, Minimization & Mitigation Coordination,
and Permit Decision
Project Implementation and Monitoring
development of the revised integrated environmental review process gives
participants an opportunity to share past experiences and to strengthen the
interagency relationships that were established during the development of the
Highway Methodology NEPA/404 process. These stronger interagency relationships will help to improve understanding and ultimately reduce project delays in the future. Trusting relationships, coupled with the
changes noted below, are the keys to fulfilling the goals of TEA-21 (and the
This process is
recommended as beneficial and applicable to transportation development
projects, regardless of the source of funding.
(Note: this guidance was written assuming that an
EA or EIS was prepared.
If a NEPA
document other than an EA/EIS is prepared, adjustments may be necessary.)
Ten Steps provide:
between transportation planning process and the project development process
through improved coordination
and concurrent involvement of all agencies in the NEPA decision-making process
coordination of NEPA, Section 404, Section 106, Endangered Species, Essential
Fish Habitat, Clean Air Act, Section 4(f), US Coast Guard, Environmental Justice,
ACOE concurrence on the preferred alternative and opportunity to obtain a
permit decision at the time of the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or
Record of Decision (ROD)
At major process
milestones, agencies will participate in a formal concurrence process.
After a formal concurrence, agencies will
not revisit a milestone unless there is substantive new information that
- Disseminate the merger
document and educate staff, consultants, and other stakeholders involved
in planning and project development activities.
- Prepare "
guidance documents that unify NEPA, STPA, and Highway Methodology
procedures and documentation, while helping users understand the
distinctions between the acts and the separate standards that project work
must meet under each.
- Disseminate the
guidance documents and provide user training and support.
- Attain the goal of a
comprehensive guide that will serve as an operating manual for those
working on project planning and development activities.
a result of the Office of Environmental Services Unit Review, responsibility
for ITD and oversight for NEPA were transferred to the further reorganized
Bureau of Planning.
of the Environmental Coordination &
Analysis and the BTIP & Major Projects units within the reorganized Plan
and Program Development Division, emphasize the Department'
s commitment to
early environmental planning, streamlining, and integrated transportation
With recently met
staffing needs, both units will be able to deliver on their mission to define
Departmental roles and educate staff regarding ITD responsibilities.
significant steps will strengthen MDOT's ability to incorporate environmental
issues into early planning activities, before major decisions are made
about a project.
In addition, the
- promote the
identification and resolution of potential "
- enhance the prospects
for developing an interagency process for early and concurrent
environmental reviews, which will help expedite project development and
save project costs.
Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement
May 30, 2001, MDOT Commissioner Melrose and FHWA Division Administrator
Lariviere signed a Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement, implementing
the efforts, begun in early 2000, of a multi-
bureau group and a
representative from FHWA.
Agreement establishes protocol to enable self-certifying and programmatic
approval by the Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT) of specified
actions that qualify under 40 CFR 1508.4 Categorical Exclusion.
This protocol will be used to determine
applicability of federally funded Maine DOT actions for categorical exclusions
(CE's) and allow most applicable actions to be certified earlier and more
Federally funded actions
not eligible under the terms of this Agreement will be processed as
Environmental Assessments (EA's) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS's).
this Agreement, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) delegates authority
and responsibility to Maine DOT for certifying specified actions as CE'
Maine DOT's Bureau of Planning is
administratively responsible for coordinating and processing information on
eligible actions, and assuring these actions comply with criteria set forth in
this Agreement between the FHWA and Maine DOT.
Maine DOT will screen actions to determine whether they are eligible to
be certified, and documentation will be available upon request to FHWA at any
time for review.
actions covered by this Agreement comply with 23 CFR 771.115 and .117.
In addition, all actions must conform to the
specified criteria that apply to the appropriate level of certification.
Records will be kept and updated
Information on actions
will be initially recorded and recertified at designated phases of project
Levels of CE certification
Self-certifying. These actions appear in 23 CFR 771.117(c), are certified by scope
of work, and do not require individual FHWA approval.
Programmatic. These actions comply with 23 CFR 771.117(d), include Maine
eligible actions and must meet Maine Checklist criteria before they can be
certified by Maine DOT.
They do not
require individual FHWA approval.
Individual. All other actions conforming to 40 CFR 1508.4 (Categorical
Exclusion) must be processed and submitted individually for FHWA approval.
a process is intended to ensure early, expedited review and approval of
projects that do not have the potential for significant adverse impacts upon
the human or natural environment.
goal is to define criteria that, when met by the scope of work and impacts of a
specific project, qualify the project for a CE with limited analysis and
This new approach to
s will streamline the environmental reviews of transportation projects where
NEPA interests are demonstrably protected.
steps for this effort include:
- Circulate Programmatic
CE Agreement to MDOT staff and consultants.
- Create handbook for
- Provide educational and
technical support to help MDOT personnel learn how to apply the new CE's
- Evaluate effectiveness
of process and revise CE lists and process as needed.
noted above, much progress has been made during the past year in developing
ITD, and many challenges remain.
a relatively short period of time, MDOT has achieved remarkable results with
its environmental "
Attitudes and actions relating to MDOT's treatment of the
environment in transportation decision-
making are evolving.
Opportunities exist to incorporate
initiatives such as Context Sensitive Design and Environmental
Relationships within MDOT,
with other State and federal agencies, and with the public, RTAC'
special interest groups, continue to improve.
Tools to assist in the application of ITD principles are coming on-
MDOT management at the highest levels is
committed to the ITD effort.
prospects for further success are bright.
on the implementation tasks, especially the "
tools and training needs,
Those tools will be crucial
to effectively institutionalizing the new environmental ethic.
While much remains to be done, with
continued top management support and adequate staff resources, MDOT can
complete the major milestones in ITD implementation and experience increasing
benefits from the new approach.
For further information, please contact:
Duane A. Scott
Coordination & Analysis
Department of Transportation
State House Station
 CE Work
Group members were: Carol Webb, James Leary, Brian Burne, Pam Hetherly, David
Bernhardt, Michael Vigue, Michael Hoover, Al Belz, Richard Bostwick, Duane
Scott, and Jim Linker (FHWA). Other participants in the development and review
process included Sylvia Michaud, Janet Myers, and Bill Reid.
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