TEA-21 - Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
Moving Americans into the 21st Century
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To coordinate Federal agency involvement in major highway projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to address concerns relating to delays in implementing projects, unnecessary duplication of effort, and added costs often associated with the conventional process for reviewing and approving surface transportation projects.
Key Elements 
Establishes a coordinated environmental review process by which USDOT would work with other Federal agencies to assure that major highway and transit [TRA 9004(c)] projects are advanced according to cooperatively determined time frames.
Emphasizes using concurrent, rather than sequential reviews to save time.
Establishes a dispute resolution process between the Department and other Federal agencies.
Allows States the option of including their environmental reviews in the coordinated environmental review process.
Authorizes the Secretary to approve State DOT requests to reimburse Federal agencies for expenses associated with meeting expedited time frames.
Other NEPA Related Provisions
In addition to Section 1309, a number of other sections contain provisions relating to the applicability and administration of NEPA. These are summarized below.
Planning Decisions [1203 & 1204]
Decisions by the Secretary concerning State or Metropolitan transportation plans and programs shall not be considered a Federal action subject to review under NEPA.
Planning Factors [1203 & 1204]
During the development of projects and strategies, one of seven planning factors a State or Metropolitan transportation planning process must consider is "to protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation and improve quality of life."
Contracting for Engineering and Design Services 
A State may procure under a single contract the services of a consultant to prepare environmental documents for a project as well as subsequent engineering and design work on the project if the State conducts a review assessing the objectivity of the environmental documentation prior to submission.
Design-Build Contracting 
A State or local transportation agency may award a design-build contract for a qualified project using any procurement process permitted by applicable State and local law, provided that final design shall not commence before compliance with section 102 of the NEPA Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332).
Major Investment Study Integration (1308)
The major investment study is no longer a separate requirement, but must be integrated, as appropriate, as part of the analyses required to be undertaken pursuant to the agencys planning provisions and NEPA.
Real Property Acquisition and Corridor Preservation 
The value of land acquired by a State or local government without Federal assistance can be credited to the State share of a Federally assisted project which uses that land, provided a number of conditions are met. One such condition is that the land acquisition will not influence the environmental assessment of the project, including the need for the project, the consideration of alternatives, and the selection of a specific location.
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation 
NEPA requirements apply to funds made available through innovative financing.
High Priority Projects 
Upon request by a State, the Secretary shall delegate responsibility for carrying out a project(s), with funds made available to carry out this section, to the State in which such project or projects are located. These projects of this section (as well as similar projects of ISTEA and the Surface Transportation and Uniform Reloaction Assistance Act of 1987) are included to establish eligibility for Federal-aid highway funds and are not intended to define the scope or limits of Federal action for those projects (for NEPA or other purposes).
September 14, 1998