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.
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
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 a Documented Categorical Exclusion and an Environmental Assessment, and between an Environmental Assessment and an Environmental Impact Statement.
The lecture portion of this session will explore the use of 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 explored. As a follow up to the lecture, a class exercise will be used to illustrate when and how Categorical Exclusions may be appropriate for projects.
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.
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. Special emphasis will be placed on linking planning and NEPA, and how MAP-21 provisions including the incorporation of prior planning documents and grandfathering provisions will also be covered. Interfaces between the News Starts program and the environmental review process clarified by MAP-21 will also be addressed.
Managing Successful Agency Coordination Programs
Explore how effective agency coordination can make the difference in expediting environmental review. Elements of successful agency coordination plans will be reviewed. The influence of MAP-21 on agency coordination will be discussed. Based on real project examples, a panel will discuss how different agency coordination approaches can support efficient and effective, streamlined environmental review, successful mitigation planning, and how to tailor coordination needs based on the scale of the project, and the extent of the issues and concerns to be resolved.
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.
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.
Managing Risks during Environmental Review
This session is designed to assist project sponsors in anticipating and managing the risks associated with the various aspects of project development and environmental review. The session will focus resources and considerations that have the potential to shape project decisions, affect the project schedule, and impact the project budget. Following an introductory review of basic risk management principles and framework, risks will be discussed across a broad range of considerations in terms of source, likelihood and mitigation. Topics to be covered will include both specific resources such as wetlands and parklands, as well as coordination with major influencers such as airports, railroads and universities.