Environmental Planning

Guidance for Federal-Aid Projects

NEPA Guidance

Categorical Exclusions

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines Categorical Exclusions (CE) as actions that based on past agency experience with similar actions, do not involve significant environmental impacts. 

Actions that meet the criteria for CEs in 40 CFR 1508.4 and 23 CFR 771.117(a) and (b) and are listed in 23 CFR 771.177(c) generally do not require any further NEPA approvals by FHWA. Eligibility for a CE is documented using the CE Checklist.

Actions that are eligible for a CE, but are not specifically listed in 23 CFR 771.117(d) are processed as individual CEs. An Individual CE is prepared to document that no major environmental impacts are expected from the proposed action. FHWA must approve Individual CEs.

Both (c)-list and (d)-list categorical exclusions may be approved by ADOT if the project impacts do not exceed the threshold criteria listed in the FHWA-ADOT Programmatic Categorical Exclusion (PCE) Agreement.

These projects are exempt from the requirements to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment (EA).

NEPA Flowchart

Environmental Assessments

FHWA's implementing regulations for NEPA are contained in 23 CFR 771, "Environmental Impact and Related Procedures." Regulations concerning Environmental Assessments (EA) are found at 23 CFR 771.119. An EA is prepared for an action that is not a Categorical Exclusion (CE) and does not clearly require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), o where FHWA believes an EA would assist in determining the need for an EIS.

  • Environmental Overview Outline
    • This outline will guide the practitioner in preparing environmental overviews, which often precede the preparation of Environmental Assessments.
  • Environmental Assessment Guidance
    • This guidance is to be used on preparing Environmental Assessments. For additional guidance please call EPG at 602.712.7767 and ask to speak with a NEPA Planner.
  • Sample Cooperating Agency Letters
    • These two sample letters contain wording to invite federal agencies to participate as cooperating agencies in upcoming environmental investigations. One letter is for the US Army Corps of Engineers and the other is for the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest.
NEPA Regulations and Processes

The Arizona Ombudsman – Citizens Aide helps you resolve ongoing issues with State Agencies.

Civil Rights

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad. Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.