Guidance for Federal-Aid Projects

Guidance for Federal-Aid Projects

As an integral part of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Environmental Planning (EP) coordinates, prepares, and provides the environmental compliance for ADOT projects. The EP oversees the preparation of environmental documents in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These interdisciplinary documents ensure that project associated environmental impacts and subsequent mitigation measures are addressed and implemented appropriately through construction.

In the absence of a federal action that would require NEPA, ADOT projects require a similar, state-level environmental evaluation process. Unless otherwise noted, this guidance refers to the federal NEPA process for projects that are funded by FHWA, but many steps are applicable to the state-level environmental evaluation.


ADOT Project Development

EP works with ADOT staff through all phases of transportation project development, from planning through operations. Through the Multimodal Planning Division, ADOT employs a multi-phased project development process that integrates environmental requirements with engineering design. Adhering to the NEPA process, EP conducts environmental analyses to determine if a project will have an impact on the environment.  This determination is used as a guide for how a project should be developed to avoid, minimize, or off-set impacts to the environment.

Planning, Engineering Scoping, Design, Construction, Operations


NEPA Documentation

The NEPA process consists of an evaluation of the potential environmental effects of a proposed federal action. There are three classes of actions, which stipulate the level of documentation required during the FHWA implementation of the NEPA process (23 CFR § 771.115):

  • Class I – EIS. Actions that significantly affect the environment require an EIS. An EIS results in a Record of Decision (ROD).
  • Class II – Categorical Exclusion - CE. Actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant environmental effect are excluded from the requirement to prepare an EA or EIS.
  • Class III – EA. Actions in which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established. All actions that are not Class I or II are Class III. All actions in this class require the preparation of an EA to determine if an EIS is required due to significant impacts or if a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is to be issued.

In the development of the  appropriate NEPA document, EP coordinates and consults with local, state, and federal agencies. Ultimately, the type of document developed is at the discretion of the federal agencies involved.