ODOT programs develop nearly a 1000 projects each year; nearly 95% of NEPA documentation associated with the program is completed as a Categorical Exclusion -- actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant environmental impact. ODOT has been able to achieve this because of our partnership with the FHWA.
In 1998, ODOT and FHWA developed a Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement (aka CE Programmatic Agreement) that created four different levels of CEs based upon context and intensity of the environmental impacts. The programmatic agreement also identified project types that are exempt from environmental documentation. The Programmatic Agreement, last updated in September 2010, was developed using 23 CFR 771 as a guide.The Programmatic Agreement enables low impact projects to be documented and cleared by ODOT District Environmental Staff, medium level impacts by Office of Environmental Services staff, and higher impacts projects by FHWA.
Projects that do not fall within the CE criteria are either an
- Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - Actions that significantly affect the environment;
- Environmental Assessment (EA) - Actions in which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established.