The goal of this seminar is to support the efficient and effective management of environmental processes in the development and construction of transit projects by providing current information on federal requirements, identifying best practices, and facilitating the sharing of information and insight among advanced practitioners. For each topic covered, special emphasis will be provided as to how MAP-21, which contains a number of new environmental provisions, will affect the environmental review process. FTA expectations regarding how MAP-21 provisions should be addressed will also be reviewed.
This course is intended for transportation professionals from transit agencies and metropolitan planning organizations with a minimum of two-year’s experience in the environmental process relative to project development.
Seminar topics include:
FTA Expectations in Environmental Review
FTA is undertaking a number of initiatives to go "back to basics" and to streamline environmental review process and expedite project delivery. This session will review recent changes related to proactive FTA management of the environmental review process and FTA expectations during the environmental review process under MAP-21. Topics to be covered will include latest developments as a result of MAP-21, a renewed focus on statutory requirements, the relationship of the Scoping process to streamlining, and other recent changes in regulatory requirements and guidance.
Organizing for a Successful Project
This session will focus on tips and techniques related to project management during environmental review, including developing realistic schedules, budgets and staffing plans. Considerations relating to the use of consultants will also be discussed. The influence of MAP-21 on project set-up and coordination will also be addressed.
Understanding Class of Action and Applying FTA’s New List of Categorical Exclusions
Review how FTA assesses what Class of Action is right to support project decision-making, and the factors that influence the FTA determination. Special emphasis will be placed on deciding between using Categorical Exclusions or Environmental Assessments. A focus of the session will be exploring FTA’s new Categorical Exclusions (issued in February 2013) and MAP-21 provisions concerning Categorical Exclusions. Coordination and documentation appropriate to Categorical Exclusions will be addressed. The use of Re-evaluations and Supplemental documents will also be discussed. As a follow up to the lecture, a class exercise will be used to illustrate determination of Class of Action, including use of Categorical Exclusions.
Effective Project Definition, Purpose and Need and Alternatives Development
Understand the critical elements in developing a clear and concise project definition, and the essential elements of a solid statement of Purpose & Need. The role of Purpose & Need in streamlining what constitutes a "reasonable" range of alternatives will also be discussed. The session will help participants to understand the federal perspective on what works, and what does not when it comes to defining these foundations of the NEPA review process. Linking planning and NEPA and how MAP-21 provisions including the incorporation of prior planning documents and grandfathering provisions will also be covered.
Streamlined Environmental Documents
This session will focus on improving the quality of environmental documentation and streamlining environmental documentation. The “dos” and “don’ts” of documentation will also be addressed, including the importance of developing annotated outlines as a foundation for success.
Addressing Community Impacts
During this session, a wide array of typical community impacts and how to manage these considerations will be addressed focusing on projects typically requiring a categorical exclusion or environmental assessment. Topics will include neighborhood impacts, property acquisition, relocations and displacements, noise impacts, air quality and Phase I site assessments. Each of these areas will be explored in terms of applicable regulations and guidance, key issues, technical approaches to assess impacts, how to mitigate identified impacts, and the appropriate documentation to aid decision-making. In addition, the associated agency coordination and public involvement will also be discussed. The session will use real project examples and project scenarios to illustrate managing the scale and level of detail needed to address both short term construction and longer term impacts.
Based on the latest guidance, this session will focus on environmental justice considerations during project development and environmental review. Basic elements of environmental justice analysis and review will be discussed. Participants will also learn the differences among environmental justice, Title VI, and community impact assessment.
Coordinating, But Not Confusing, Section 106 and Section 4(f)
Review the differences and similarities between Section 4(f) and Section 106, the relationships between the two processes and related content, and how to avoid duplication of effort while making sure all requirements are met. The different statutory bases for Section 4(f) and Section 106, the types of resources regulated, commonalities and differences in the analyses required to comply with both regulations, and public involvement and agency coordination requirements will be discussed.
Recap of MAP-21 Environmental Streamlining and New Program Opportunities
Drawing on the materials covered throughout the course, this session will summarize the influence of Map-21 on the environmental review process and emphasize the areas where MAP-21 provides increased flexibility and streamlining. Other program developments such as changes to CMAQ may also be discussed.