127.15 Reevaluation of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents

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127.15.1 Overview

Once completed and approved, a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document has a limited shelf life. When a NEPA document needs to be updated, MoDOT’s design division environmental staff conducts a reevaluation and prepares documentation. Factors that can create the need to reevaluate a NEPA document include the age of the document, whether the project is active or inactive, noteworthy changes in the scope and/or location of the project (including those that arise from value engineering proposals), and changes in environmental laws or regulations. In most cases, the reevaluation is submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for review and approval.

127.15.2 Process

Documentation for reevaluations is based on the original NEPA document type. If the original NEPA document was an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), then design division environmental staff prepares a letter to document the reevaluation and submit it to FHWA for approval. A reevaluation in the form of a supplemental EA or EIS is rare and not routinely required by FHWA. More detailed discussion of supplemental NEPA documents can be found on FHWA’s web site at:

www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/projdev/imp771pream.asp
http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/4f/impTA6640.asp

If the original NEPA documentation was a programmatic CE, a CE letter, or CE2 and the project now meets the criteria for a programmatic CE, the programmatic CE may be used for the reevaluation and the project file documented with a summary of why its use is appropriate. If the programmatic CE cannot be used, then environmental staff prepares a reevaluation letter and submits it to FHWA.

127.15.3 Document Age

The Missouri Division of the FHWA has issued guidance that requires reevaluations for all NEPA approvals more than five years old. This applies even when portions of the project are under construction or have already been constructed, as is often the case for lengthy corridor projects.

127.15.4 Inactive/Dormant Projects

MoDOT often has projects that have completed the project development process but are not immediately scheduled for letting, e.g., “plans on the shelf.” To keep these inactive projects up-to-date and compliant with NEPA and other environmental approvals, the district will submit a Request for Environmental Services (RES) to the design division at least once a year for every MoDOT project.

127.15.5 Changes in Environmental Laws and Regulations

Laws and regulations are subject to change as are resource agency interpretation and guidance related to laws and regulations. The districts will submit an RES to the design division for every MoDOT project at least annually, so that environmental and historic preservation staff can review projects relative to the latest regulatory guidance.

127.15.6 Changes in Project Scope or Location

Whenever the project scope or location changes, the district will submit an RES describing and showing the changes to the design division. Based on that information, environmental and historic preservation staff will reexamine the project to determine whether the proposed changes require submitting a reevaluation to FHWA.

127.15.7 Changes Due to Value Engineering

Although MoDOT attempts to conduct Value Engineering (VE) studies during the preparation of draft NEPA documents, sometimes VE studies are done after the NEPA process has taken place. Project changes resulting from VE proposals are considered in a manner similar to other project scope or location changes, as previously described. When VE studies are conducted post-NEPA, caution must be exercised to ensure that commitments made in standing, approved NEPA documents are not contradicted. This also applies to assumptions made for post-NEPA approvals, such as Section 404 permits, approvals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as others.

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