By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs, ARTBA

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has unveiled two proposals to reduce delays in the environmental review and approval process for transportation construction projects. The measures are part of the agency’s continued efforts to implement the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act reauthorization law.

The first proposal, issued Sept. 28, creates a pilot program allowing states to substitute their own environmental laws for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during project reviews. This builds upon an existing FHWA program allowing states to assume federal responsibilities for NEPA during the review process.

The second proposal, released Sept. 29, covers a variety of areas and seeks to harmonize environmental procedures among the FHWA, Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration. It also would ease historic preservation requirements for certain “common concrete steel bridges and culverts  built after 1945” in order to reduce delays in repairing and maintaining these structures.

ARTBA is reviewing both proposals and intends to offer formal comments in the coming months.