U.S. Department of Transportation Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and state officials joined the Federal Highway Administration’s Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson and other FHWA officials to sign a “Memorandum of Understanding,” giving the Nebraska Department of Transportation greater control over certain federal environmental compliance reviews.
“This is part of our ongoing effort to reduce the federal burden on states,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “Giving states a greater say in environmental reviews will help reduce important project delivery times.”
By signing the agreement, Nebraska becomes the latest in a growing list of states to join the Surface Transportation Project Delivery program. Under conditions set forth in the agreement, Nebraska can conduct environmental reviews and make approvals for projects under environmental laws and regulations consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This agreement applies to decisions related to projects without significant environmental impacts, known as “categorical exclusion” projects. Most federally funded highway projects in Nebraska are considered categorical exclusions.
“The NDOT team has worked hand in hand with FHWA to streamline the project delivery process to improve reliability while upholding our commitment to the environment and the citizens of Nebraska,” said NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis. “It’s an honor to have Deputy Administrator Hendrickson with us to highlight the strong partnership that enables us to take ownership of the review authority for approximately 95 percent of the state’s transportation projects.”
Created by Congress in the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU) and later modified in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act, FHWA’s programs for NEPA assignment allow states to enter into agreements with the U.S. Department of Transportation to assume responsibilities for conducting environmental reviews under NEPA and other applicable environmental laws.
This three-year-long agreement can be renewed by NDOT and FHWA.