State Oversight of CE Projects Provides Savings to Nebraskans
Nebraskans will benefit from improved customer service and project delivery as a result of the September 5, 2018, signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The MOU allows NDOT to assume federal environmental approval responsibility for transportation projects with a Categorical Exclusion (CE) classification.
CE projects are the most common level of review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 for infrastructure projects in Nebraska. Such projects comprise about 95 percent of all infrastructure work in the state.
The biggest benefits produced by state oversight of CE projects include the potential for a reduction in review times, allowing projects to be delivered more expeditiously and resulting in savings for taxpayers. NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis noted that this common-sense approach to business is right-sized for Nebraska. It gives power back to the states, allowing them to make common-sense decisions in their own backyard.
Governor Pete Ricketts touted the CE assignment as the fruit of a continuing effort to create efficiencies that deliver infrastructure benefits to the state more quickly and economically. FHWA Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson noted that customer service will be heightened by taking administrative duties from Washington, D.C. and giving them back to the people of Nebraska.
FHWA Nebraska Division Administrator Joe Werning summed up the partnership between NDOT and the FHWA: “Over the years, we’ve worked together for innovative ways to improve customer service and project delivery,” he said. “The technical teams from both departments performed at a superhuman level.”
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