U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Proposed Planning and Environmental Rules
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced two proposed rules to strengthen the transportation planning process and promote environmentally sound investment choices. The rules would govern the process for distributing more than $30 billion worth of highway and transit projects annually.
"President Clinton and Vice President Gore are committed to protecting the environment while providing leadership and tools to states and communities to strengthen their planning processes," Secretary Slater said. "The proposed rules will accomplish this by providing flexibility along with increased emphasis on the economic, social, and environmental consequences of transportation investments."
The rules, one for metropolitan and statewide planning and the other for highway and transit project development and implementation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), incorporate key provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the landmark surface transportation law that President Clinton signed on June 9, 1998.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), both agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation, issued the proposed rules jointly.
"These rules will help to streamline transportation decison making enabling states and MPOs (metropolitan planning organizations) to advance environmentally sound projects more expeditiously," FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said. "We developed these rules through an open and inclusive process, and we listened to our stakeholders."
The proposed rules eliminate the stand-alone Major Investment Study (MIS) requirement and provide for closer linkages between planning and project development under NEPA. State and local agencies would be encouraged to better integrate planning and project development decisions to achieve a streamlined environmental process. The rules provide opportunities to link planning with project development through a flexible framework that can be tailored to state and local conditions. In addition, the rules support state and local transportation plans to make safety enhancements a priority for the nation's transportation system.
"These rules would help ensure that transportation investment decisions are environmentally sound and reflect the needs of the entire community, including low-income and minority persons and the transportation disadvantaged," FTA Acting Administrator Nuria Fernandez said.
The FHWA and the FTA invite comments on the proposed rules until August 23. The proposed rules and collateral information are available through the FHWA and FTA websites at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov and http://www.fta.dot.gov.
Comments on the proposed rulemaking, "Statewide Transportation Planning: Metropolitan Transportation Planning" should be marked Docket No. FHWA-99-5933; Comments on the proposed rulemaking "NEPA and Related Procedures for Transportation Decisionmaking, Protection of Public Parks, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges and Historic Sites" should be marked Docket No. FHWA 99-5989. Comments on both should be sent to the Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.
Federal Register Notices for the Proposed Rules