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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has proposed regulatory change that would streamline the environmental review process for multimodal projects, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced yesterday at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) annual meeting in Phoenix.The proposal, sent to the Federal Register this week, would "harmonize" the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) environmental review process with the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration, according to a USDOT press release. The proposal is being made so that multimodal projects are required to follow only one process rather than multiple agency processes, USDOT officials said in a press release.In addition, the proposal would exempt most concrete and steel bridges built after 1945 from historic sites review, under section 4(f).In her speech to AASHTO, Chao mentioned the proposal as an example of the changes underway at the USDOT."The Department of Transportation is committed to identifying ways to eliminate unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy that will save states time, money and reduce burdensome compliance costs," Chao said. "Important new regulatory and policy changes are underway at the Department to help deliver infrastructure projects faster, and in a more cost effective manner."Among other reforms, the department has issued updated guidance for the application of categorical exclusions for multimodal projects, Chao said. The new guidance now allows one USDOT agency to use the categorical exclusions of another USDOT agency for certain multimodal projects.
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