A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making
It is important for government officials to carefully evaluate the choices available to them when making transportation decisions. This is why FHWA and FTA (along with your state DOT) always document their work and decisions for the public and for government agencies to review and provide input. We prepare documents before and after decisions are made so everyone can see why the decisions were made and can also provide input.
In addition to the documentation just mentioned, FHWA and FTA also prepare documents to meet NEPA requirements. Since every transportation project is different, and some are more complex than others, FHWA and FTA prepare one or more of the following documents for a proposed project to conform with NEPA requirements:
In preparing an EIS, CE or EA for projects, FHWA and FTA must consider all of the relevant SEE impacts and pursue public involvement. In considering the potential SEE impacts of a project or activity, FHWA and FTA work with other federal, state and local agencies to consider their interests.
Although the size and complexity of the three levels of NEPA documentation are different, they all serve the same purposeto achieve better decisions by making the impact of choices known and by involving you, the public, in making transportation decisions.
- Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are prepared for federal actions that have a significant effect on the human and natural environment.
- Draft EIS (DEIS) and Final EIS (FEIS) are disclosure documents that provide a full description of the proposed project, the existing environment, and analysis of the anticipated beneficial and adverse environmental effects of all reasonable alternatives.
- Categorical Exclusions (CE) are prepared for federal actions that do not have a significant human and natural environmental effect.
- Environmental Assessments (EA) are prepared for federal actions where it is not clearly known how significant the environmental impact might be. If, after preparing an Environmental Assessment, it is determined that the project's impact is significant, an Environmental Impact Statement is then prepared. If not, a finding of "no significant impact" is documented.
- Record of Decision (ROD) is a concise decision document for an environmental impact statement that states the decision (selected alternative or choice), other alternatives considered, and mitigation adopted for the selected alternative or choice.
- Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is a statement indicating that a project was found to have no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which an environmental statement will therefore not be prepared.