Highway and Transit Projects: Better Data Needed to Assess Changes in the Duration of Environmental Reviews

Since 2005, the federal government has enacted various statutes aimed at accelerating the environmental review process for highway and transit projects. In addition, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act may require three federal agencies— the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)—to issue permits or perform consultations before a project can proceed. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is required by statute to assess the extent to which statutory provisions have accelerated and improved environmental permitting and consulting processes for highway and transit projects. This report examines, among other things: 1) the impact of streamlining provisions on consulting and permitting time frames, and (2) additional actions used by federal resource agencies to streamline their reviews. GAO analyzed permitting and consulting data from the 3 federal agencies and interviewed officials from the 3 agencies, 16 agency field offices, and 7 state departments of transportation (DOTs) for their perspectives on the effect of streamlining provisions and other efforts. GAO selected these offices to include a range of locations and those with a greater number of permits and consultations, among other factors. GAO is making two recommendations, one to FWS and one to NMFS, to develop plans and time frames for improving their tracking systems and to develop internal controls to improve data reliability. The Departments of Commerce and Interior concurred with our recommendations.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References;
  • Pagination: 42p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01675983
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-18-536
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 25 2018 9:21AM