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ODOT NEPA Assignment Categorical Exclusion Guidance

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How to Use This Manual

Welcome to the online version of ODOT NEPA Assignment Categorical Exclusion Guidance. This is the official and most up-to-date version of documentation that accompanies the Categorical Exclusion (CE) process. This online version supersedes any printed documentation to date. Significant and important updates to the manual will be posted here.

Last updated May 2021 (no process changes)

A PDF version is available, but is not the official version.

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The collapsible menu below operates as the Table of Contents.

Introduction

This guidance serves as ODOT’s process for completing environmental documents that meet criteria to be processed as a Categorical Exclusion (CE) under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program. Under NEPA Assignment, ODOT assumed the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities.  It is now ODOT’s responsibility to determine all classes of action and approve all environmental documents with the exception for projects that cross state lines. Since ODOT is serving as the federal agency for projects conducted under NEPA Assignment, this guidance is utilized in lieu of the Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement (CE PA) executed in 2015 (Agreement No. 18769).

Project documentation shall be developed by ODOT that demonstrates CE actions meet the criteria established in this guidance and that individual actions meet the definition of a CE defined in 23 CFR 771.117(a) (see Council on Environmental Quality [CEQ] definition below) and have no unusual circumstances defined in 23 CFR 771.117(b) that would require the preparation of either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). ODOT shall complete the task of analyzing environmental impacts and preparing environmental documentation for NEPA compliance pursuant to 23 CFR 771.109, 771.113, and 771.117(b). CE determinations will be used as considerations of notices to proceed to final design, right-of-way (ROW) purchases, or construction.

In accordance with FHWA regulations (23 CFR 771, “Environmental Impact and Related Procedures”), CEs are actions which meet the CEQ definition at 40 CFR 1508.4 and based on previous experience with similar actions do not involve significant environmental impacts. They are actions which:

  • Do not induce significant impacts to planned growth or land use for the area
  • Do not require the relocation of significant numbers of people
  • Do not have a significant impact on any natural, cultural, recreational, historic, or other resource
  • Do not involve significant air, noise or water quality impacts
  • Do not have significant impacts on travel patterns
  • Do not either individually or cumulatively, have any significant environmental impacts, and are, therefore, categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an EA or EIS

The term “Significant” as used in NEPA is defined at 40 CFR 1508.27 and requires consideration of both context and intensity.

CE Actions

All projects that meet CE criteria will be classified as “C” or “D” listed CEs in accordance with 23 CFR 771.117 and this guidance. The appropriate determination of a CE is based upon the type of action and project impacts. The documentation and approval process are discussed on the following pages and all actions will be processed and documented with EnviroNet (ODOT’s Environmental Documentation System).

In accordance with this guidance, C1 projects do not require additional documentation beyond what is listed in the Minimum Documentation Requirements for Environmental Documents and that they meet the criteria presented in Appendix A. Projects defined as C2 require minimum documentation and that they meet the criteria presented in Appendix B.

Projects identified as meeting the criteria of 23 CFR 771.117(d) are processed according to context and intensity of impacts to environmental resources and must meet the criteria presented in Appendix C. Pursuant to 23 CFR 771.117(d), projects may qualify as a CE if appropriately analyzed and are documented to meet CE criteria.   These “documented” or “D” project actions can include projects with impacts or scopes other than listed as C1 or C2 actions.  Projects in this category must meet the intent of 23 CFR 771.117(d) in that they must satisfy the criteria for CE classification, cannot involve significant environmental impacts, and require environmental analysis and documentation that serves as a basis for making a CE determination.

  • The District Environmental Coordinator (DEC), the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) Environmental Coordinator (EC), or their designee shall make CE determinations of C1 or C2 actions
  • The DEC or ORDC EC will make CE determinations of D1 actions
  • ODOT’s Office of Environmental Services (OES) will make CE determinations of D2 and D3 actions

Environmental impact thresholds are defined in Appendices A through C. It is the responsibility of ODOT to ensure that each project processed under this guidance will be documented in accordance with the thresholds specified in Appendices A through C.

Class of Action Higher than a Categorical Exclusion

When the significance of impacts of a transportation project proposed is uncertain or an action does not meet any of the classifications for a “C” or “D” listed CE, as outlined in this guidance, ODOT-OES will determine a class of action in accordance with 23 CFR 771.

Re-Evaluations

It may become necessary for ODOT to re-evaluate the CE classification for projects prior to further approvals being granted. The re-evaluation of a CE shall be conducted by ODOT for the following circumstances:

  • If the project scope has changed since the last CE determination
  • If the project impacts have changed since the last CE determination

If the project has not commenced within five years of the project’s CE determination and the environmental studies have not been re-examined during that time, those studies shall be evaluated and ODOT will determine if additional agency coordination is required. This may prompt re-evaluation of the CE determination to document any changes to the project as a result of agency coordination. In these cases, a re-evaluation will be completed by ODOT if there are substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns or if there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed actions or its impacts. 

The signature authority for re-evaluations will be the same as for the original CE document unless the re-evaluation indicates a change in the level of document is needed.  Prior to filing the plan package with Central Office, District Environmental Staff will complete the Environmental Consultation Form (ECF) or its successor.  It is the responsibility of ODOT to ensure that the conditions of the project have not changed and the NEPA determination remains valid for the action.

Appendix A - C1 Categorical Exclusions

Due to the limited scope of work for certain projects and based on ODOT’s past experience with similar actions, these actions meet the intent of CEQ and FHWA regulations. These projects must have independent utility and logical termini and must not exceed any of the listed C1 project impact thresholds. Based on past experience, projects listed below will not result in any significant impacts to the human and/or natural environment. If environmental resources will be impacted, the level of documentation will need to be elevated. 

A C1 CE will be completed and approved by the DEC, the ORDC EC, or their designee. The DEC or ORDC EC shall be ultimately responsible for ensuring that projects meet the criteria of a C1 action and do not require any further NEPA approvals. Minimum documentation requirements must be met. The following project actions have been determined to meet the criteria of a C1 action as defined by ODOT:

(1)    Activities which do not involve or lead directly to construction, such as planning and technical studies; grants for training; engineering to define the elements of a proposed action or alternatives so that social, economic, and environmental effects can be assessed; and Federal-aid system revisions which establish classes of highways on the Federal-aid highway system.  Examples include:

  • Study type projects (e.g. feasibility studies, etc.)
  • Land donations to ODOT associated with ROW permits (Regulated Materials Review issues will require coordination with ODOT-OES)
  • Early ROW acquisition in accordance with 23 CFR 710.501(e)

(2)    Approval of utility installations along or across a transportation facility. Examples include:

  • Utility tower lighting and street lighting projects

(3)    Construction of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths, and facilities. Examples include:

  • Walkways, sidewalks, shared-use paths, and facilities, small passenger shelters (e.g. construction of a bike path on an existing railroad bed, designations of certain highways as bike routes, painting of existing paved shoulders as bike lanes, ADA ramps, etc.) provided that no new disturbance will occur

 (4)    Activities included in the State's "highway safety plan" under 23 U.S.C. 402.

(5)    Transfer of Federal lands pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 107(d) and/or 23 U.S.C. 317 when the land transfer is in support of an action that is not otherwise subject to FHWA review under NEPA.

(6)    The installation of noise barriers or alterations to existing publicly owned buildings to provide for noise reduction.  Examples include:

  • Maintenance and/or replacement of existing noise wall panels and/or posts

(7)    Landscaping.  Examples include:

  • Herbicidal spraying
  • Mowing or brush removal/trimming projects
  • Beautification or facility improvement projects (e.g. landscaping, curb and gutter replacement, installation of park benches, decorative lighting, etc.)

(8)    Installation of fencing, signs, pavement markings, small passenger shelters, traffic signals, and railroad warning devices where no substantial land acquisition or traffic disruption will occur. Examples include:

  • The installation or maintenance of signs, pavement markings/raised pavement markers/sensors, traffic calming activities, and/or new or replacement fencing (e.g. right-of-way, vandal, etc.)
  • General pavement marking or "line painting" projects

(9)    The following actions for transportation facilities damaged by an incident resulting in an emergency declared by the Governor of the State and concurred in by the Secretary, or a disaster or emergency declared by the President pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. 5121):

(i) Emergency repairs under 23 U.S.C. 125; and

(ii) The repair, reconstruction, restoration, retrofitting, or replacement of any road, highway, bridge, tunnel, or transit facility (such as a ferry dock or bus transfer station), including ancillary transportation facilities (such as pedestrian/bicycle paths and bike lanes), that is in operation or under construction when damaged and the action:

(A) Occurs within the existing right-of-way and in a manner that substantially conforms to the preexisting design, function, and location as the original (which may include upgrades to meet existing codes and standards as well as upgrades warranted to address conditions that have changed since the original construction); and

(B) Is commenced within a 2-year period beginning on the date of the declaration

(10) Acquisition of scenic easements. Examples include:

  • Conservation/mitigation easements and fee simple
  • Land acquisition by a public agency/public park entity for passive recreational use

(11) Determination of payback under 23 U.S.C. 156 for property previously acquired with Federal-aid participation.

(12) Improvements to existing rest areas and truck weigh stations. Examples include:

  • Improvements to existing rest areas and weigh stations for minor maintenance (mill and resurfacing of existing parking areas) (Projects involving major construction may require a higher level of documentation)
  • Truck stop electrification and construction/installation of alternative energy facilities (e.g. CNG, solar, etc.)  at existing facilities

(13) Ridesharing activities. Examples include:

  • Transportation corridor fringe parking facilities, park-and-ride lots and ridesharing activities

(14) Bus and rail car rehabilitation.

(15) Alterations to facilities or vehicles in order to make them accessible for elderly and handicapped persons.

(16) Program administration, technical assistance activities, and operating assistance to transit authorities to continue existing service or increase service to meet routine changes in demand.

(17) The purchase of vehicles by the applicant where the use of these vehicles can be accommodated by existing facilities or by new facilities which themselves are within a CE. Examples include:

  • Purchase or conversion of vehicles to alternative fuel uses (e.g. CNG, E-85, etc.)

(18) Track and railbed maintenance and improvements when carried out within the existing right-of-way. Examples include:

  • Track and railbed acquisition

(19) Purchase and installation of operating or maintenance equipment to be located within the transit facility and with no significant impacts off the site.

(20) (Not applicable to ODOT)

(21) Deployment of electronics, photonics, communications, or information processing used singly or in combination, or as components of a fully integrated system, to improve the efficiency or safety of a surface transportation system or to enhance security or passenger convenience. Examples include, but are not limited to, traffic control and detector devices, lane management systems, electronic payment equipment, automatic vehicle locaters, automated passenger counters, computer-aided dispatching systems, radio communications systems, dynamic message signs, and security equipment including surveillance and detection cameras on roadways and in transit facilities and on buses.  Examples include:

  • Replacement of existing or installation of new traffic signals, flashing beacons, railroad warning devices and the installation of ITS system components
  • Upgrade of existing tower lighting to new technologies that ensure a lesser impact than the current system
  • Implementation of other new safety or operations technologies (must be approved by OES)

(22) Projects, as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101, that would take place entirely within the existing operational right-of-way. Existing operational right-of-way means all real property interests acquired for the construction, operation, or mitigation of a project. This area includes the features associated with the physical footprint of the project including but not limited to, the roadway, bridges, interchanges, culverts, drainage, clear zone, traffic control signage, landscaping, and any rest areas with direct access to a controlled access highway. This also includes fixed guideways, mitigation areas, areas maintained or used for safety and security of a transportation facility, parking facilities with direct access to an existing transportation facility, transportation power substations, transportation venting structures, and transportation maintenance facilities. Portions of the right-of-way that have not been disturbed or that are not maintained for transportation purposes are not considered part of the existing operational right-of-way.

Examples of projects within the existing operational right-of-way include:

  • Tower lighting
  • Guardrail installation and replacement (including median cable barriers) where roadway ditches and backslopes will not be relocated outside the existing ROW
  • Improvements to existing ODOT/County maintenance facilities
  • Construction of new ODOT/County maintenance facilities
  • Environmental mitigation activities
  • Work on pedestrian and vehicle transfer structures and associated utilities, buildings, and terminals
  • Construction of alternative energy facilities (fuel tank farms, wind turbines, etc.)

(23) Projects that receive federal funds that are less than the monetary values indicated by FHWA. These monetary values are adjusted annually by the Secretary to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index prepared by the Department of Labor (see www.fhwa.dot.gov or www.fta.dot.gov).  See the Help Tip Box in EnviroNet for current monetary limits.

(24) Localized geotechnical and other investigations to provide information for preliminary design and for environmental analyses and permitting purposes, such as drilling test bores for soil sampling; archeological investigations for archeology resources assessment or similar survey; and wetland surveys. (This only applies to stand alone projects, not for environmental surveys being conducted as part of a project with an environmental document)

(25) Environmental restoration and pollution abatement actions to minimize or mitigate the impacts of any existing transportation facility (including retrofitting and construction of stormwater treatment systems to meet Federal and State requirements under sections 401 and 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1341; 1342)) carried out to address water pollution or environmental degradation.  Examples include:

  • Related environmental mitigation activities (e.g. wetland, stream, upland, etc.)

(26) thru (28) Per 23 CFR 771(c) (26)-(28) and MAP-21, these items cannot be processed as a C1.

  • See Appendix B

(29) Purchase, construction, replacement, or rehabilitation of ferry vessels (including improvements to ferry vessel safety, navigation, and security systems) that would not require a change in the function of the ferry terminals and can be accommodated by existing facilities or by new facilities which themselves are within a CE.

(30) Rehabilitation or reconstruction of existing ferry facilities that occupy substantially the same geographic footprint, do not result in a change in their functional use, and do not result in a substantial increase in the existing facility’s capacity. Example actions include work on pedestrian and vehicle transfer structures and associated utilities, buildings, and terminals.

(31)  Activities that do not utilize federal monies or require federal actions.

C1 Project Impact Thresholds

Projects that include or exceed any of the following cannot be processed as a C1:

  • Acquisition of permanent ROW for construction* 
  • National Scenic River corridor impacts
  • Waterway Permits
  • Impacts to state or federally threatened or endangered species
  • Impacts to wetlands
  • Impacts to historic properties or historic districts**
  • Impacts to Section 4(f) and/or Section 6(f) properties
  • Substantial traffic disruptions, including temporary road, detour or ramp closures unless the use of such facilities satisfy the following conditions:
    • Provisions are made for access by local traffic and so posted
    • Through-traffic dependent businesses will not be adversely affected
    • The detour or ramp closure, to the extent possible, will not interfere with any local special event or festival
    • The temporary road, detour or ramp closure does not substantially change the environmental consequences of the action
    • There is no substantial controversy associated with the temporary road, detour, or ramp closure
  • Minor public or agency controversy on environmental grounds (no opposition from any organized groups or agencies and no unresolved environmental coordination).  

*    With the exception for early ROW acquisition conducted in accordance with 23 CFR 710.501(e) (see Item #1) and when an environmental document is being prepared for the project for which the early acquisition is being performed. 

**   For most projects that use Appendix A of the Section 106 PA, a map showing the results of the SHPO GIS search is required to be included in the project file. However, for districtwide or countywide projects that involve numerous locations (e.g. culvert replacements, signal upgrades, road striping, etc.), the environmental document preparer must include a statement in the Cultural Resources Coordination sub-section of the Cultural Resources Tab in EnviroNet that reads: District environmental staff accessed the SHPO GIS database on XXXX (date) and in accordance with Appendix A of the Section 106 PA executed November 8, 2017, amended July 11, 2019, the project will not impact historic properties or historic districts. This completes the Section 106 review and no further cultural resource investigations are warranted.

Appendix B - C2 Categorical Exclusions

Due to the limited scope of work for certain projects and based on ODOT’s past experience with similar actions, these actions meet the intent of CEQ and FHWA regulations, in that they satisfy the criteria for CE Classification and do not involve significant environmental impacts. These projects must have independent utility and logical termini and must not exceed any of the listed C2 project impact thresholds. They require a minimum level of documentation to ensure that no unusual circumstances are present (for example but not limited to: significant environmental impacts; substantial controversy on environmental grounds; significant impact on properties protected by Section 4(f) of the DOT Act or Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; or inconsistencies with any Federal, State, or local law, requirement or administrative determination relating to the environmental aspects of the action) that would warrant a higher level of NEPA documentation. Certain C1 actions that exceed C1 impact thresholds can be processed as a C2 only if they meet the criteria of a C2 action and do not exceed C2 impact thresholds. Those C1 actions that do not meet the criteria for C2 shall be processed at the next appropriate higher level (D listed projects). A C2 CE will be completed and approved by the DEC, the ORDC EC, or their designee.

The following project actions have been determined to meet the criteria of a C2 action as defined by ODOT:

(26) Modernization of a highway by resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, adding shoulders, or adding auxiliary lanes (including parking, weaving, turning, and climbing lanes), if the actions meet the constraints in paragraph (e) of this section.  Examples include: 

  • Joint or limited use of right-of-way where the proposed use would have minimal or no adverse social (including highway safety), economic or environmental impacts
  • Installation of new noise walls and other new noise mitigation projects
  • Construction of highway safety and truck escape ramps
  • Construction of bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways, sidewalks, shared-use paths, or facilities and trailhead parking that do not otherwise qualify for C1 designation
  • Beautification or facility improvement project (e.g. landscaping, curb and gutter installation and replacement, ADA ramps/curb ramps, installation of park benches, decorative lighting, etc.)
  • Construction of alternative energy facilities (e.g. fuel tank farms, wind turbines, etc.)

(27) Highway safety or traffic operations improvement projects, including the installation of ramp metering control devices and lighting if the meet the constraints in paragraph (e) of this section. Examples include: 

  • Lane reduction (“road diet”) changes provided traffic analysis is completed
  • Railroad projects that close at-grade crossings to improve safety or traffic operations

(28) Bridge rehabilitation, reconstruction, or replacement or the construction of grade separation to replace existing at-grade railroad crossings if the meet the constraints in paragraph (e) of this section. Examples include:  

  • Railroad projects that close or relocate at-grade crossings

C2 Project Impact Thresholds

Minimum documentation is required to illustrate that no significant impacts will occur (see Appendix F). However, additional documentation beyond what is listed in Appendix F may be required based on existing coordination protocols for specific resource areas. The C2 classification cannot be applied to projects if any of the following occur or is needed:

  • Acquisition of more than a minor amount of ROW (exceeds strip takes) or an amount that would result in any residential or non-residential displacements
  • A U.S. Coast Guard permit or an Individual Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act
  • A finding of Adverse Effect to any historic property considered under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act**
  • Section 4(f) impacts greater than de minimis
  • A finding of “May Affect, Likely to Adversely Affect” threatened or endangered species or critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act***
  • Construction of temporary access, or the closure of existing road, bridge, or ramps, that would result in major traffic disruptions
  • Changes in access control
  • Floodplain encroachment other than functionally dependent uses (e.g. bridges, wetlands) or actions that facilitate open space use (e.g. recreational trails, bicycle and pedestrian paths)
  • Construction activities in, across, or adjacent to a river component designated or proposed for inclusion in the National System of Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • Minor public or agency controversy on environmental grounds (no opposition from any organized groups or agencies and no unresolved environmental coordination)
  • A full Underserved Populations Impact Analysis Report (UPIAR) is required (the project must be processed as a D-level CE or higher-level document). If a memo-to-file/letter/IOC-format UPIAR Short Report is determined to be the appropriate level of documentation, contact OES regarding NEPA document level.

ODOT will also consider the following resource areas for C2 projects. Documentation of these areas is only required if there is a potential for impacts.

  • Air Quality & Noise – Studies not required, or no impacts will occur based on the results of studies and/or coordination conducted
  • Hazardous Materials - Limited to solid wastes as defined in Ohio Administrative Code 3745-27-01(R)(23) and petroleum related Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and/or releases
  • Farmland – Not present or amount of ROW needed does not exceed criteria of the Farmland Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

**   For most projects that use Appendix A of the Section 106 PA, a map showing the results of the SHPO GIS search is required to be included in the project file. However, for districtwide or countywide projects that involve numerous locations (e.g. culvert replacements, signal upgrades, road striping, etc.), the environmental document preparer must include a statement in the Cultural Resources Coordination sub-section of the Cultural Resources Tab in EnviroNet that reads: District environmental staff accessed the SHPO GIS database on XXXX (date) and in accordance with Appendix A of the Section 106 PA executed November 8, 2017, amended July 11, 2019, the project will not impact historic properties or historic districts. This completes the Section 106 review and no further cultural resource investigations are warranted.

***  If the project is an ER project as defined in 23 CFR 771.117(c)(9) and will result in a finding of “May Affect, Likely to Adversely Affect” T&E species, the project may be cleared as a C2 level project providing all appropriate agency coordination has been completed.

Appendix C - D-listed Categorical Exclusions

ODOT agrees to process D-listed actions pursuant to 23 CFR 771.117(d).  Projects in this category must meet the intent of 23 CFR 771.117(d), have independent utility and logical termini, satisfy the criteria for CE Classification and do not involve significant environmental impacts.  The DEC or ORDC EC shall confirm and approve projects that meet the intent of D1 actions. The confirmation and approval of D2 and D3 actions will be made by ODOT-OES. Each project cannot exceed any of the impact thresholds listed for each level.

The following list of actions meet the criteria for a CE in CEQ and FHWA regulations. They require the submission of documentation demonstrating that the specific conditions or criteria are satisfied and that significant environmental effects will not result. 

(1)-(3) [Reserved]

(4)    Transportation corridor fringe parking facilities.

(5)    Construction of new truck weigh stations or rest areas.

(6)    Approvals for disposal of excess right-of-way or for joint or limited use of right-of-way, where the proposed use does not have significant adverse impacts.

  • Selecting this item as a Project Type in EnviroNet will activate the Disposal of Excess Right-of-Way (DExROW) Tab for documentation and approval purposes
  • As part of the DExROW process, Cultural Resources, Ecological, and Regulated Material Review (RMR) require documentation/coordination for compliance purposes
    • Upload a Section 106 Scoping Request Form to EnviroNet and notify OES Cultural Resource Staff Team Leaders through the Send User Notification; approval will be facilitated through the Cultural Resource Coordination sub-section of the Cultural Resource Tab
    • Contact the OES Ecological Program Manager via email to obtain confirmation that the parcel(s) to be disposed are not relevant for current/future mitigation purposes (e.g. credit bank)
    • Perform a screening for the parcel(s) to be disposed using the RMR Land Disposal Form Summary and upload to EnviroNet under ESA/Reports.
      • During upload, select Regulated Material Review Form from the Name dropdown and type in the word “Disposal” at the end (e.g. Regulated Material Review Form – Disposal)
      • See Chapter 5 of the RMR Manual for when coordination of the Disposal Form with OES would be required (if not available as of the date this updated CE Guidance is released, contact OES RMR Staff).

(7)    Approvals for changes in access control.

(8)    Construction of new bus storage and maintenance facilities in areas used predominantly for industrial or transportation purposes where such construction is not inconsistent with existing zoning and located on or near a street with adequate capacity to handle anticipated bus and support vehicle traffic.

(9)    Rehabilitation or reconstruction of existing rail and bus buildings and ancillary facilities where only minor amounts of additional land are required and there is not a substantial increase in the number of users.

(10) Construction of bus transfer facilities (an open area consisting of passenger shelters, boarding areas, kiosks and related street improvements) when located in a commercial area or other high activity center in which there is adequate street capacity for projected bus traffic.

(11) Construction of rail storage and maintenance facilities in areas used predominantly for industrial or transportation purposes where such construction is not inconsistent with existing zoning and where there is no significant noise impact on the surrounding community.

(12) Acquisition of land for hardship or protective purposes. Hardship and protective buying will be permitted only for a particular parcel or a limited number of parcels. These types of land acquisition qualify for a CE only where the acquisition will not limit the evaluation of alternatives, including shifts in alignment for planned construction projects, which may be required in the NEPA process. No project development on such land may proceed until the NEPA process has been completed.

(i) Hardship acquisition is early acquisition of property by the applicant at the property owner's request to alleviate particular hardship to the owner, in contrast to others, because of an inability to sell his property. This is justified when the property owner can document based on health, safety or financial reasons that remaining in the property poses an undue hardship compared to others.

(ii) Protective acquisition is done to prevent imminent development of a parcel which may be needed for a proposed transportation corridor or site. Documentation must clearly demonstrate that development of the land would preclude future transportation use and that such development is imminent. Advance acquisition is not permitted for the sole purpose of reducing the cost of property for a proposed project.

Examples include:

  • Right-of-way acquisition only for bikeway/pedestrian facility (no construction)

(13) Actions described in 23 CFR 771.117(c)(26), (c)(27), and (c)(28) that do not meet the constraints listed in 23 CFR 771.117(e).

  • Project types that exceed thresholds in Appendix A
  • Project types that exceed thresholds in Appendix B

D1 Project Impact Thresholds

For a project to remain a D1, the DEC or ORDC EC shall confirm the following thresholds are not exceeded:

  • Minor ROW acquisition involving a maximum of two relocations (the context and intensity of the impact may require confirmation by ODOT that the acquisition will not result in significant impacts to the community or environment that would exceed CE criteria)
  • Waterways – Individual permit is acceptable, but wetland impacts must be limited to less than 3 acres of Category 1 and 2 wetlands and/or up to 0.5 acres of Category 3 wetlands
  • No Section 106 impacts that would warrant the preparation of Archaeological Data Recovery recommendations
  • Section 4(f) de minimis or Programmatic Evaluation impacts
  • There is no public or agency controversy on environmental grounds (no opposition from organized groups or agencies and no unresolved environmental coordination)
  • Impacts to federally threatened or endangered species/critical habitat do not result in a Biological Opinion
  • No disproportionately high and adverse impacts to Underserved Populations or disparate impacts to Title VI populations
  • No substantial floodplain impacts
  • If a Coast Guard Permit is required contact ODOT-OES for additional guidance regarding applicability of the Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States Coast Guard and The Federal Highway Administration to Coordinate and Improve Bridge Planning and Permitting, executed January 14, 2014
  • The project does not propose the addition of a new interchange at an existing overpass/underpass

D2 Project Impact Thresholds

For a project to remain a D2, ODOT-OES shall confirm the following thresholds are not exceeded:

  • Right-of-way acquisition involving a maximum of eight relocations (the context and intensity of the impact may require confirmation by ODOT that the acquisition will not result in significant impacts to the community or environment that would exceed CE criteria)
  • Section 106 impacts provided necessary documentation of consultation is included in the project files as required by 36 CFR Part 800
  • Wetland impacts of 5 acres or less (A wetland finding is required)
  • Substantial public or agency controversy on environmental grounds (strong opposition from organized groups or agencies) (The CE must include documentation demonstrating that the public or agency concerns have been addressed)
  • Section 4(f) de minimis or Programmatic Evaluation impacts (documentation approved by OES)
  • Individual Section 4(f) impacts/use as long as a draft of the D2 CE is provided to OES for review along with the Individual 4(f) submittal

D2 projects cannot involve the following:

  • Disproportionately high and adverse impacts on Underserved Populations or disparate impacts to any Title VI populations
  • Quantitative PM 2.5 Hotspot Analysis
  • Quantitative MSAT Analysis
  • Unresolved substantial public or agency controversy on environmental grounds
  • Substantial/significant floodplain impact

D3 Project Impact Thresholds

If the project exceeds the thresholds listed for D2 actions but still meets the intent of 23 CFR 771.117(d), the CE will require the review and approval by OES.

Appendix D - General Clarifications

Project types not specifically listed in Appendix A, B, or C, such as construction of additional through lanes, minor new highway facility on new location, or construction of realignments on new location, can be processed as a C1 or C2 CE. If the proposed project exceeds established thresholds for a C1 or C2 CE or the type of project cannot be classified as a C1 or C2 CE, it will be processed as a D1 CE (Item #13).  If established thresholds for D1 are exceeded, the proposed project will be elevated to the next appropriate higher level of CE.

Approvals for Changes in Access Control (Last Updated 4/12/16)

Approvals for changes in access control is a D-listed CE (Item #7 under Appendix C) in accordance with 23 CFR 771.117(d)(7). The FHWA defines changes in access control as Interstate System Access actions that add access to an interstate system, temporarily close an interstate highway, and/or construct locked gate access points on interstate highways. For ODOT, this means that interstate projects that involve an Interchange Modification Study (IMS) or Interchange Justification Study (IJS), which require FHWA approval, would be classified as a D1 CE or higher.

Certain ODOT actions do not meet the FHWA definition of change in access control and therefore, would not require the preparation of a D-listed CE (D1 or higher). For example, actions requiring an Interchange Operations Study (IOS) for an interstate could be classified as a C1 or C2 CE if the environmental impacts do not exceed C1 or C2 project impact thresholds. Actions that involve changes in Limited Access (L/A) control may be classified as a C1 or C2 CE if the environmental impacts do not exceed C1 or C2 project impact thresholds. For all other changes in access control, no NEPA action is required.

Examples:

  • A hospital proposes to remove a section of the L/A fence to install a sign and landscaping partially within L/A and partially on hospital property. Fencing will be installed to connect to the L/A fence, but further back on the property. No land transfer or change in access will occur and all work will be conducted by the hospital’s contractor.
    • Not a NEPA action
  • Honda proposes to install a drop right turn from US 33, partially within L/A, into their existing entrance. All work will occur within existing ROW and no land transfer or change in access will occur. All work done by Honda’s contractor.
    • The turn lane will modify limited access and therefore is a NEPA action. The project will be processed at the appropriate CE level based on physical impacts.  Not a mandatory D1, as it does not involve interstate.
  • A school district proposes to install a center left turn lane on SR 41. All work will be conducted by the district’s contractor within non-L/A ROW and no land transfer will occur
    • Not a NEPA action
  • A township proposes to install pipe in an existing stream within L/A to install a sign.  Linear feet of impacts could trigger individual waterway permit.  No land transfer and no change in access.  All work done by the Township.
    • Not a NEPA action. At District Real Estate Office’s discretion whether to require documentation of secured waterway permits or permitting in process prior to issuing joint use permit.

Appendix E - Information to Include in Project Description

C1 Project Description

  • Proposed project activities
    • Concise statement about what the project is/proposes to do
      • Indicate if there is MPO/local government involvement
        • Example Statement:  “In collaboration with ODOT, the Newark City Engineer’s Office is proposing…”
      • If the project is a re-eval of a paper C1 or C2 determination form, insert the statement “This project is a re-evaluation of the…” (see EnviroNet Re-Evaluation Procedures 2018.01.22)
  • Geographical setting
    • Location of project

C2 Project Description

  • Proposed project activities
    • Concise statement about what the project is/proposes to do
      • If the project is a re-eval of a paper C1 or C2 determination form, insert the statement “This project is a re-evaluation of the…” (see EnviroNet Re-Evaluation Procedures 2018.01.22)
  • Include MOT - whether traffic will be maintained/detoured/etc.
    • Include detour specifics, if known, or if not, indicate accordingly
    • If detours or access restrictions are anticipated, include statement that PI activities during NEPA included initiation of MOT discussions with public and emergency services
  • Right-of-Way/Utility Impacts
    • Discuss anticipated involvement/impacts, including which utilities are impacted, what amount of ROW is needed, whether the impacts are temporary or permanent, or if unknown, indicate accordingly.
      • Discuss relocations associated with the project, if any
  • Geographical setting
    • Location of project
  • Insert statement “The environmental document and associated studies are being approved using [Insert PE, Stage 1, Stage 2, or Stage 3] Design.  A copy of the plans are included in the project file.”

D1 and Higher Project Description

  • Proposed project activities
    • Concise statement about what the project is/proposes to do
      • If the project is a re-eval of a paper C1 or C2 determination form, insert the statement “This project is a re-evaluation of the…” (see EnviroNet Re-Evaluation Procedures 2018.01.22)
  • Geographical setting
    • Location of project
  • Insert statement “The environmental document and associated studies are being approved using [Insert PE, Stage 1, Stage 2, or Stage 3] Design.  A copy of the plans are included in the project file.”

Appendix F - Minimum Documentation Requirements for Environmental Documents

This represents minimum documentation needed to illustrate impacts meet existing CE thresholds, agreements and requirements (e.g., Section 106 PA, CE Guidance, etc.). Additional resource specific documentation may be needed to confirm no impacts will occur. Upload corresponding documentation accordingly (e.g. Air, Noise, Section 4(f), Section 6(f), etc.)

C1

If project includes multiple locations where we may not know exact locations (striping, paving, spraying, etc.) no Records Check (SHPO Map) is needed.

Cultural Resources Records Check (SHPO GIS Map)
Ecological Eco Exempt Form
RMR Regulated Materials Review Form

C2

Upload resource specific documentation, if needed (Air, Noise, Section 4(f), Section 6(f), etc.)

Cultural Resources Records Check (SHPO GIS Map)
Section 106 Scoping Request Form
Ecological Ecological Survey Reports and associated review and coordination activites integrated into EnviroNet (includes Disposition of Agency Comments and Wetland Findings)
RMR Regulated Materials Review Form
General Map showing project location
Map/plans with work limits shown as evidence or indication of stage of design at which District based the NEPA decision
Feasibility Study, when applicable
Permits
Waterway Permits Items are not required for environmental document approval but must be uploaded if applicable
Permit Determination Request, if waterway impacts are anticipated
OES Permit Determination
Waterway Permits, when applicable
Coordination with Local Floodplain Administrator, when applicable
FEMA FIRM Mapping with project location indicated
Public Involvement PI materials, when applicable
Underserved Populations Underserved Populations Documentation Form for C2 projects
Census mapping
Farmlands TigerWEB Mapping with project location indicated

D1 & Higher

Upload resource specific documentation, if needed (Air, Noise, Section 4(f), Section 6(f), etc.)

Cultural Resources Section 106 Scoping Request form
Ecological Ecological Survey Reports and associated review and coordination activites integrated into EnviroNet (includes Disposition of Agency Comments and Wetland Findings)
RMR Regulated Materials Review Screening Form
General Map showing project location
  Map/plans with work limits shown as evidence or indication of stage of design at which District based the NEPA decision
Drinking Water OEPA Drinking Water Source Protection Area Map with project location indicated
Permits
Waterway Permits Items are not required for environmental document approval but must be uploaded if applicable
Permit Determination Request, if waterway impacts are anticipated
OES Permit Determination
Waterway permits, when applicable
Coordination with Local Floodplain Administrator, when applicable
FEMA FIRM Mapping with project location indicated
Public Involvement Public Engagement Plan, when applicable
PI Materials
Purpose and Need Existing and future conditions data
Alternatives Feasibility Study (FS) (AER, when applicable)
Underserved Populations Census mapping
Farmlands Mapping with project location indicated FCIR Form (if needed)

EA/EIS

Consult with OES regarding minimum documentation required.

Appendix G - Approval Cheat Sheet

Approval Cheat Sheet