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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 6, 2000
Contact: Lori Irving
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 46-00

U.S. Department of Transportation Grants Extension on Proposed Planning and Environmental Rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that it will extend the comment period for the proposed planning and environmental rules until Sept. 23, 2000.

The proposed 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 decision making enabling states and metropolitan planning organizations to advance environmentally sound projects more expeditiously," FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said. "We developed these proposals through an open and inclusive process, and we listened to our stakeholders."

The proposed rules would eliminate the stand-alone Major Investment Study 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 would 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 would 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 proposed rules can be viewed by searching for the docket numbers at USDOT's electronic docket management system web site, http://dms.dot.gov/. The proposed rules and collateral information also can be viewed via the FHWA and FTA web sites: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov and http://www.fta.dot.gov.

Comments on both rulemakings can be submitted electronically via USDOT's http://dms.dot.gov/. Written comments on the proposed rulemaking, "Statewide Transportation Planning: Metropolitan Transportation Planning" should be marked Docket No. FHWA-99-5933. Written 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. Written 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.

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