Don't blame them

News AASHTO Journal May 28, 2002
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In a joint statement on environmental streamlining, 10 environmental organizations have taken aim at "shortchanging the environ

In a joint statement on environmental streamlining, 10 environmental organizations have taken aim at "shortchanging the environmental review process" to accelerate transportation project delivery, maintaining that current laws should be better administered, not amended.


The widely circulated document alleges "some" parties are proposing to eliminate public participation and to set deadlines on participating agencies to accelerate project delivery. It states well over half of delayed projects are stalled due to lack of funding, local support and project complexity, and maintains that better planning and administration of current laws are needed.


The organizations specifically propose:


* Planning--Integrate "existing resource protection efforts into transportation planning to ensure future projects will avert impacts;"


* Involvement--Promote more public involvement in transportation plans;


* Coordination--"Direct state DOTs to work collaboratively with state and federal resource agencies, municipalities and other interested parties to develop environmentally sound transportation projects and plans;"


* Classification--"Properly classify projects for environmental review." Projects are delayed, the groups maintain, because critics must take legal action to "challenge a flawed administrative process;" and


* Alternatives and impacts--"Effectively consider a wide variety of alternatives, as well as secondary, induced and cumulative impacts on project planning." Many delays occur, the groups assert, because agencies have failed to "effectively consider" impacts of transportation projects.


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