The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was established with the purpose of encouraging productive and enjoyable harmony between humans and their environment while promoting efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and stimulate the health and welfare of people.
Title I, Section 102 of the Act states that a detailed statement by the responsible official on the environmental impact of the proposed action shall be included in every recommendation, reports on proposals for recommendation, reports on proposals for legislation and other major federal actions significantly affecting the human environment.
The Federal Highway Administration is the agency responsible for administering the Federal-Aid Highway program. Under this program, federal funds are allotted by Congress to the individual states. However, before these monies can be used for highway projects, the projects must be approved by FHWA, which can only grant its approval for projects that are developed in accordance with federal statutes and regulations. One of these regulations requires that a noise study be accomplished to determine what noise impact, if any, will result from the proposed highway improvement and what measures will be taken to lessen these noise impacts. If noise impacts are expected, noise reduction measures that are determined by the state highway agency and the FHWA to be practicable, reasonable and acceptable to the affected public, must be incorporated into the highway improvement and are eligible for federal funding in the same proportion as other aspects of the project. For more information, click here.