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  • Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed in the group area discussions are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government, the Department of Transportation, or the Federal Highway Administration.
Edited: 4/24/2012 8:36 AM
Jennifer Bassett-Hales

FHWA as Co-Lead or Cooperating Agency?

We are getting ready to begin a state DOT project that does not have federal funding and is not on a Long Range Transportation Plan. There is a lot of political support for the project and it is likely to receive federal funding at a future time. On one end the project connects to an Interstate highway at an existing interchange (where improvements may or may not be required) and at the other end the proposed alignment crosses BLM land and connects to US highway that has been delegated to the state.  FHWA has initially indicated that they would like to be a cooperating agency and BLM would be the lead agency.  If the project proceeds this way, can FHWA later issue a FONSI on the BLM's document?  Does SAFETEA-LU's requirement that the USDOT must serve as the Federal lead agency for a transportation mean that if FHWA was a COOPERATING AGENCY for a BLM document, FHWA would not be able to issue a FONSI at a later date if federal funding was obtained? Are there any examples of FHWA acting as a cooperating agency for a highway project? Part of the purpose and need of this project is economic development and it is likely to impact a historic site that would require an individual 4(f) analysis, in turn requiring FHWA legal sufficiency review of the EA. If FHWA acts as a cooperating agency will FHWA be willing to complete a legal sufficiency review? 
2011-09-23 14:37:28
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:36 AM
Where does it say that ownership of land is what determine the lead for NEPA? According to CEQ 1501.5 Lead Agencies,if more than one federal agency is involved in a project, the lead is first determined by the magnitude of agency involvement, then the project approval/disapproval authority. The department that owns the land may have to approve a permit,sell, or transfer ownership of land based on certain requirments. But correct me if I am mistaken, does not funding a project carry more weight in the involvment and approval of a project?
9/27/2011 3:29 PM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:36 AM
A couple of questions: Will there be a change of access approval needed for the Interstate reconstruction? Is the project entirely on BLM lands? (they only have NEPA authority for their lands, not others). How does the state DOT feel about someone else (non-trasportation agency) taking the lead for this transportation project? In my past experience, FHWA took the lead for all projects that had the potential for using federal-aid funds in the future.
9/26/2011 3:26 PM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:36 AM
Federal funds plus Interstate Access equals FHWA lead agency. 

Otherwise you'll get stuck with a BLM document that is cursory to our needs and or requirements.
9/26/2011 1:19 PM