USDOT to accelerate project delivery

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced a final rule to amend regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that will accelerate project delivery.

The new rule is to increase efficiency with new tools for federal road, bridge and rail projects. USDOT said it is one of the department’s most expansive regulatory realignments of federal environmental transportation policy.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said: “As directed by Congress, this much-needed rule will accelerate the delivery of new railroad, transit and highway projects by rationalizing and streamlining the environmental review process across all three modes.”

The new rule implements changes made by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Acts.

By modifying 23 CFR 771 and 774 to specifically include the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the new rule allows the FRA to follow the same flexible environmental procedures as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which will eliminate confusion and increase efficiency.

The rule also helps FHWA and FTA further implement the statutory changes in 23 USC 139 and formalizes all three agencies’ roles by maintaining consistency in surface transportation policy across multiple federal agencies.

The new rule also reiterates states’ ability to produce a single environmental document and combine the Final Environmental Impact Statement with the Record of Decision document. The rule is also to provide for greater flexibility on projects that take place entirely within the operational right-of-way.

It will take effect on November 28, 2018 and is available here.  

Meanwhile, FHWA has confirmed Michigan’s I-75 road P3 will be financed with $600m in PABs, a $50m letter of credit and $75m in private equity. Advisors to the concessionaire include BMO Capital Markets, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, Louis Berger, WT Partnership and Marsh. 

KPMG, Nossaman and WSP are advising Michigan DOT.