Environmental Planning

CE Assignment and NEPA Assignment

NEW! Draft Application for Assumption of Federal Highway Administration National Environmental Policy Act Responsibilities pursuant to the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, 23 U.S.C. § 327

The draft Application is now available for review and comment.


The 326 Categorical Exclusion (CE) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by FHWA and ADOT on January 3, 2018.  View the approved CE MOU.

Signed on August 10, 2005, the “Safe Affordable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act – Legacy of Users” (SAFETEA-LU) allowed states to assume federal responsibility for Categorical Exclusion (CE) determinations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and established a five-state pilot program allowing the United States Department of Transportation Secretary to delegate all environmental review responsibilities to those five states. Under the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) the pilot program was converted into a permanent Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program (NEPA Assignment).

To help implement the efficiencies incorporated into federal law, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) seeks to assume Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) responsibility for carrying out environmental approvals under both available programs concurrently: Responsibility for Categorical Exclusions (23 USC 326) and the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program (23 USC 327).  With this assignment of federal environmental review responsibility, ADOT will be responsible for complying with all applicable federal environmental laws, regulations, Executive Orders and policies, and will be solely legally responsible for environmental decisions made on all ADOT projects.

ADOT is going through a multi-year effort to assume the FHWA environmental review responsibility.  See the milestone calendar and requirements below for more details. Once assumed, this would apply to both ADOT highway projects and federally-funded local government agency projects.

ADOT Actions leading toward NEPA Assignment

ADOT is currently getting some new procedures and guidelines in place to assume federal environmental review responsibilities in addition to the certain actions that are required by each state entering into this program.

NEPA Assignment - 23 USC 327

  • Requires a formal Application, which includes a public review and comment period
  • Requires the state DOT and the FHWA to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) projects.
  • Requires Sovereign Immunity Waiver
    • On March 22, 2017, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Senate Bill 1211 which amended the Arizona Revised Statues Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 28-334 C. to allow ADOT to assume federal environmental review responsibility and to waive sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution for the limited purposes of addressing legal matters in carrying out federal environmental review responsibilities pursuant to 23 USC 326 and 23 USC 327.

View the presentation slides for the August 15, 2017, webinar held for Agencies and Tribal Governments. This presentation provides an overview of the NEPA Assignment process.

Anticipated Schedule

NEPA Assignment - Early 2019

CE Assignment Project Determinations
Quality Control

ADOT has procedures in place for ensuring quality in environmental decision-making, documentation and continuous improvement.  ADOT's Performance reports prepared pursuant to stipulation IV(F)(2) of the 326 MOU and FHWA performance monitoring reports prepared pursuant to stipulation IV(F)(5) of the 326 MOU are available upon requests to ADOT.

NEPA Assignment Contacts

Paul O’Brien, Environmental Planning Administrator, phone: 602.712.8669.

Steven Olmsted, NEPA Assignment Manager, phone: 602.712.6421.

The Arizona Ombudsman – Citizens Aide helps you resolve ongoing issues with State Agencies.

Civil Rights

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws and authorities, ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el Título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964, la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés) y otras normas y leyes antidiscriminatorias, el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT) no discrimina por motivos de raza, color, origen nacional, sexo, edad o discapacidad. Las personas que requieran asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles de ADOT en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más antes posible para asegurar que el Estado tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.