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Section 5: Environmental Clearance

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Overview

This section describes finalizing required environmental documentation and public involvement to obtain approval by the Environmental Affairs Division or FHWA needed for the project to advance to the next stage of project development.

This section includes the following comprehensive task:

3600. Obtain environmental clearance

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3600: Obtain environmental clearance

Description. Obtaining environmental clearance involves the following activities.

  • Prepare an environmental document that
    • incorporates the comments received on the draft environmental document from the public and regulatory/resource agencies during the public availability and review period
    • includes responses to those comments received on the draft environmental document
    • identifies the selected or preferred alternative if not already identified in the draft as the preferred alternative
    • identifies changes in the proposed project, or mitigation measures, resulting from the comments received.
  • Provide sufficient copies of the final environmental document to the Environmental Affairs Division (ENV) for review. The document is then circulated to ENV staff. Each discipline reviews coordination efforts, comments, and mitigation commitments to complete regulatory/resource agency coordination. Upon satisfactory completion, approval of the document can be requested; however, the document is not circulated to agencies and the public until it is approved. Approval of the document is a one or two step process
    • The one-step process is for state-funded projects. The district submits the document to ENV for approval.
    • The two-step process is for federally-funded projects. This process requires the district to submit the document to ENV for concurrence and forwarding to the FHWA for approval. FHWA approval is required for federally-funded projects.
  • Intergovernmental cooperation and coordination initiated at the beginning of project development continues throughout the process. As part of this effort, the local clearinghouse (usually the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)) is notified of the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or Record of Decision (ROD). To comply with the Texas Review and Comment System (TRACS) and to foster intergovernmental cooperation and coordination in project development, the governor’s office is notified of the FONSI or ROD.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring an EA or EIS.

Responsible Party. Environmental coordinator

Sub-tasks.

  • Prepare final environmental document. Revise draft environmental document, if appropriate, to incorporate changes, comments, and responses.
  • Submit a sufficient number of copies (see the Environmental Manual) of the final document to ENV.
  • ENV circulates the document to division staff.
  • Obtain approval of the document from ENV and FHWA.
  • ENV and FHWA distribute the document.
  • Publish notice of availability of the document (Final Environmental Impact Statement). (See the Environmental Manual)
  • Obtain approved ROD. (See the Environmental Manual).
  • Publish ROD in Federal Register or Texas Register.
  • District notifies the local clearinghouse. (See the Environmental Manual).
  • Approval of (usually by the MPO) FONSI or ROD
  • ENV notifies the Governor’s office of FONSI or ROD approval.

Critical Sequencing. Obtaining final environmental document approval follows the formal comment period of the draft environmental document.

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material.

FHWA Technical Advisory T 6640.8A; 10/30/87; Guidance for Preparing and Processing Environmental and Section 4(f) Documents

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