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INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT
FOR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR
REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS

This INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT is made this 14th of July, 2003, by and between the COLORADO DIVISION OF THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION( FHWA), and the REGION EIGHT OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION (FTA).

WHEREAS, it is the intent and goal of FHWA and FTA to cooperatively work together to seamlessly implement the United States Department of Transportation's (USDOT) statutes, regulations, guidelines, and administrative procedures that pertain to Project Development for regionally significant projects in a manner that embodies the streamlined intermodal approach; and

WHEREAS, for purposes of this Agreement, Project Development for regionally significant projects consists of planning, environmental review, right of way acquisition, FTA's New Starts approval process, design, and construction; and

WHEREAS, it is the intent and goal of FHWA and FTA to discuss and agree on issues and the allocation of responsibilities that involve combined highway and transit components prior to providing guidance and expertise to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the FTA Grantee; and

WHEREAS, it is the intent and goal of FHWA and FTA to coordinate and share information on issues that appear to exclusively involve highway and/or transit elements in an effort to consider multimodal relationships and foster the streamlined intermodal approach to Project Development for regionally significant projects.

NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby agreed that:

FHWA and FTA will pursue a streamlined intermodal approach to planning, environmental review, right of way acquisition, FTA's New Starts approval process, design, and construction for Project Development for regionally significant projects. The details of implementing this approach are described in attachments hereto. Attachments may be added or amended as jointly agreed by FHWA and FTA.

William C. Jones, Division Administrator Federal Highway Administration Colorado Division Lakewood, ColoradoLee O. Waddleton Regional Administrator Federal Transit Admnistration Region Eight Denver, Colorado

ATTACHMENT I
TO INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT
FOR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR
REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS

PLANNING AND PROJECT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

Planning   Project Development   Construction
FHWA LRTP (Feasibility Studies)     Begin NEPA
DEIS or EA
PE Authorization
PE Programmed in TIP
FEIS
EA
ROD/FONSI
Project in conforming LRTP/TIP*
Final Design
ROW Acquisition
Construction
FTA Alternatives Analysis (Major Investment Study)

May begin a DEIS or EA
Develop Project Management Plan (PMP) LPA selected Adopted by MPO

LPA in LRTP
Request to enter PE

PE Programmed in Tip
FTA evaluation
PE Approval DEIS or EA
Project in conforming LRTP/TIP*
Request to enter FD

PE, ROD/FONSI Complete
PMP Approved
FTA evaluation
FD Approval
ROW Acquisition
FFGA Construction


Glossary
LRTPLong Range Transportation Plan
DEISDraft Environmental Impact Statement
FEISFinal Environmental Impact Statement
EAEnvironmental Assessment
LPALocally Preferred Alternative
PEPreliminary Engineering
TIPTransportation Improvement Program
FDFinal Design
RODRecord of Decision
PMPProject Management Plan
ROWRight of Way
FFGAFull Funding Grant Agreement

* For non-attainment areas.


ATTACHMENT II
TO INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT FOR
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR
REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS

PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENTAL COORDINATION

FHWA and FTA will work together to ensure that environmental coordination follows each agency's specific requirements and proceeds in an efficient manner. Specific procedures to accomplish this task are as follows:

  1. The need for transportation improvements should be identified in the long range planning process (Either the fiscally constrained or unconstrained Long Range Transportation Plan) prior to proceeding into project development. Project development is illustrated in Attachment I.

  2. Coordination is triggered by the intent of FTA and/or FHWA to analyze a regionally significant transportation project. A regionally significant project is defined, at 23 CFR 450.204, as: "a project (other than projects that may be grouped in the STIP/TIP pursuant to §450.216 and §450.324) that is on a facility which serves regional transportation needs (such as access to and from the area outside of the region, major activity centers in the region, major planned developments such as new retail malls, sports complexes, etc., or transportation terminals as well as most terminals themselves) and would normally be included in the modeling of a metropolitan area's transportation network, including, as a minimum, all principal arterial highways and all fixed guideway transit facilities that offer a significant alternative to regional highway travel."

  3. FTA and FHWA will designate a task force to meet quarterly to coordinate strategy for cooperation on current and future projects.

  4. The task force will elect a liaison point-of-contact person for each project.

  5. FHWA and FTA will determine responsibility of Federal Lead Agency or Cooperating Agency for purposes of complying with Council on Environmental Quality(CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1501 et seq.) and for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related environmental statutes, regulations and guidance. Any joint FHWA/FTA environmental document will be developed in accordance with procedural requirements outlined in 23 CFR 771 et seq., Major Capital Investment (New Starts) regulation (49 CFR 611) and all applicable NEPA requirements.

  6. FTA and FHWA will create project specific memoranda of agreement for purposes of project specific environmental coordination.

  7. Subsequent to the publication of a joint DEIS, FTA and FHWA will consult regarding proceeding to a joint or separate FEIS/ROD.

ATTACHMENT III
TO INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT FOR
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR
REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS

NEPA GUIDELINES
(Distilled from a memorandum from
FHWA Chief Counsel Karen E. Skelton
dated August 23, 1999)

Guiding Principles

  1. Comprehensive outreach and early coordination with other Federal resource and regulatory agencies is central to the successful implementation of environmental streamlining.

  2. Integration of environmental considerations during transportation planning is desirable.

  3. The NEPA document must address all reasonable alternatives, including those that may have been rejected during the planning process. Local planning decisions are not subject to judicial review and approval and federal agencies cannot be bound by these decisions. The NEPA document may incorporate by reference previous studies done elsewhere, but shall be a self-contained review of environmental impacts, alternatives, and mode choices.

  4. FHWA Division Offices are tasked with identifying projects which are likely to be a source of substantial controversy or litigation and notifying FHWA headquarters. Prior concurrence may be required prior to proceeding with these projects.

  5. Purpose and need should fairly state what the project is intended to accomplish so that reasonable alternatives can be honestly weighed and options which legitimately meet that need are given full consideration.

  6. Alternatives Analysis (as defined in the Council on Environmental Quality regulations at 40 CFR 1502.14, not as defined in the FTA New Starts process at 49 CFR 611) has been called the heart of the environmental impact statement.
    1. Alternatives should be closely tied to the purpose and need of the project.
    2. Alternatives analysis should include a reasonable range of actions including multimodal and transit options when in an urban setting.
    3. Narrowing the range of alternatives before the NEPA document is prepared makes the process vulnerable to the charge that alternatives were not considered fairly in the NEPA document.
    4. The NEPA document must present all alternatives which might reasonably meet the purpose and need, including those that might be locally unpopular or were rejected early on.
    5. These rules are essentially the same for an Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision and Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact.

ATTACHMENT IV
TO INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT FOR
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR
REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS

FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION
MAJOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT PROJECTS
(NEW STARTS)
AND CORRESPONDING FHWA PROCESS

The FTA and FHWA share the same Planning (23 CFR 450) and Environmental (23 CFR 771) process. The perception that they do not comes largely from FTA's New Starts process (49 USC 5309 and 49 CFR 611) which runs concurrently with planning and NEPA and places some minor time constraints on certain actions. FTA and FHWA will work together to ensure that the requirements of the Planning, NEPA and New Starts regulations are met in a seamless manner.

To qualify for FTA funding of any kind, a transit project must emerge from the metropolitan and statewide planning process required by 49 USC §§5303-5306. FTA is required by law to determine that a local sponsor demonstrates the technical, legal and financial capacity to implement the project. There are three key steps in FTA's New Starts planning and project development process:

  1. Alternatives Analysis;
  2. Preliminary Engineering; and
  3. Final Design.

Alternatives Analysis

To qualify for New Starts funding, candidate projects must have resulted from a planning-level alternatives analysis study (formerly known as a major investment study or multimodal corridor analysis) which evaluates several modal and alignment options for addressing mobility needs in a broadly defined travel corridor. This planning-level Alternatives Analysis is intended to provide information to local officials on the benefits, costs, and impacts of alternative transportation investments. At local discretion, the Alternatives Analysis may be integrated into the metropolitan planning process or into the NEPA process. This includes the undertaking of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Alternatives Analysis is considered complete when a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is selected by local and regional decision makers, adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in its financially constrained long range metropolitan transportation plan, and the PE activity is programmed in the MPO's Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). At this point, the local project sponsor may submit the LPA's New Starts project justification, local financial commitment criteria, and a request for approval to enter preliminary engineering to FTA.

Recent guidance entitled "New Starts Rule Frequently Asked Questions" makes clear that the LPA is considered a preliminary locally preferred strategy that is still subject to final NEPA review. Following the selection of an LPA, project sponsors begin the development of the Project Management Plan (PMP).

Preliminary Engineering

Requirements for FTA approval to enter preliminary engineering:

Completed Alternatives Analysis;
Adopted Locally Preferred Alternative into Regional Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP);
FTA approval of baseline alternative;
FTA review of Project Management Plan;
Demonstrated technical, legal, and financial capacity; and
"Recommended" or higher rating for the project based on New Starts Criteria.

NEPA may begin for a project or corridor that is not included in the LRTP, but can only proceed to the publication of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Until a project is included in the LRTP and receives FTA permission to begin Preliminary Engineering (PE), work on a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) cannot begin. For projects already included in the LRTP, permission to begin PE can be granted prior to the beginning of NEPA, thus significantly reducing any procedural impact from the New Starts requirements.

During the preliminary engineering phase of project development, local project sponsors refine the design of the proposal, taking into consideration reasonable design alternatives. The proposed project's cost estimates and New Starts Criteria are also refined in the preliminary engineering phase of development. Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) must be met. Project Management Plans (PMP) are finalized and local funding sources are committed to the project.

FHWA can authorize PE if the PE portion of the project is in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). This authorization allows for Preliminary Design, (defined as a sufficient level of design to support the NEPA decision), and NEPA work. Following the completion of the NEPA process it can also include all activities necessary to implement the build alternative prior to award of construction. FHWA cannot approve the NEPA decision document (ROD/FONSI) unless the construction portion of the project is in the LRTP.

FTA and FHWA will work together to insure that any consultant contracts for the preparation of NEPA documents specify the level of engineering to be completed and contain the necessary options to terminate, delay, or continue work past the DEIS, dependent on receiving FTA permission to begin PE.

Preliminary Engineering for a New Starts project is considered complete when FTA has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) as required by NEPA, and when the local project sponsor has demonstrated to FTA its technical capability to advance the project into the next stage of development.

Final Design

Requirements for FTA approval to enter final design:

Completed NEPA process (ROD or FONSI);
Demonstrated technical, legal and financial capacity;
FTA approved Project Management Plan;
FTA approved Rail and Bus Fleet Management Programs;
Resolution of all railroad and right-of-way issues; and
"Recommended" or higher rating for the project based on New Starts Criteria.

Projects which have completed preliminary engineering must request FTA approval to enter into the final design stage of project development. The final design phase cannot be initiated until all applicable environmental reviews and evaluations have been satisfied. FTA's approval to enter final design is based upon its review of the project's New Starts criteria and completion of a Record of Decision or Finding of No Significant Impact. Consistent with 49 USC 5309(e)(6), FTA will approve entry into final design based on the results of the New Starts rating process. Final design may include right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, and the preparation of final construction plans (including construction management plans), construction cost estimates, detailed specifications and bid documents.

FHWA does not allow Final Design to begin until a ROD/FONSI has been issued. Approval of the build alternative in the ROD constitutes FHWA approval to proceed into final design. Right of way acquisition authorization is a required action and generally cannot be done until after the ROD/FONSI.

Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) and Construction

New Starts projects are funded through Full Funding Grant Agreements. Negotiation and approval of the FFGA may take place after the project has been approved for entry into Final Design and may even occur after the beginning of construction. This can be a time- consuming process that involves multiple reviews by FTA in order to ensure the accuracy of cost estimates, readiness of the grantee, and the financial health of the grantee. The timing of contracting actions will need to take into account this process.

FHWA authorizes construction following a thorough review and approval of Plans, Specifications, and Estimates (PS & E). Construction authorization cannot occur unless the construction portion of the project is in the STIP).


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