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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 8:42 AM
Steve from Pittsburgh, PA

Utilities and NEPA

Is there a Federal requirement for NEPA documentation of impacts of the new location of overhead and underground utilities which are being relocated as part of a Streetscape project in an historic district using 100% Federal Funds?  The utilities are required to vacate the existing location within the public ROW due to vehicle safety.
2012-01-30 14:38:06
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:42 AM
Mary Ann Rondinella
I think your best bet is to ask the lead Federal agency's field office and/or contracting agency for the streetscape project.  It's not clear to me why underground utilities would need to be relocated for vehicle safety if they are already underground.  It could be that the city and/or utility companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to get utility maintenance/relocations done concurrently with the streetscape project?  That would be optimal to avoid digging up the same area and possibly disrupting service more than once.  Moreover, the streetscape project may be categorically exempt from preparing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. (But it would still need to comply with any other applicable environmental laws and regulations.) Any interested person can view the environmental documentation file if you contact the contracting agency or the nearest field office of the lead Federal agency (i.e. the funding agency).  They would be in the best position to let you know the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the utility relocation work.  I'd also like to remind all of our loyal readers that this forum really isn't well-suited or intended to address project-level issues and decision making:  the best source of information is the lead Federal agency's field office (e.g. FHWA Division Office/FTA Region or Metro Office) or the project sponsor/applicant/grantee. Having said that, if you need assistance finding the local points of contact, let us know and we'll do our best to get you that information.
2/9/2012 9:41 PM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:42 AM
Steve from Pittsburgh
2/9/2012 4:10 PM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:42 AM
Laura Hilden
Which state?
2/9/2012 9:39 AM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:42 AM
In at least one state I am aware of the State assumes responsible for complying with NEPA and other federal regulations on utility relocations only when the utilities move into R/W purchased by the state for that purpose (which they typically provide for in their design).  If the utility elects not to use the R/W provided by the state and reroutes the line elsewhere, it is their opinion the utility incurs primary responsibility of regulatory compliance.
2/8/2012 12:04 PM
Posted: 4/24/2012 8:42 AM
I think you answered your own question. A 100% Federally funded project (or any other Federal action or approval for that matter that triggers NEPA) requires the Federal agency take into account possible direct, indirect and cumulative impacts in their NEPA analysis. I would think that utility relocations due to the project certainly would be considered. However it depends on state law/policies as to whether or not the utilities located in the ROW are compensated for the move costs. More details/info is really necessary to respond in depth.
2/7/2012 5:04 PM