Federal-aid Conversion Information (NEPA & Programming)
Typically, when developing a Federal-aid project, NEPA clearance is required prior to starting final design. (Final design is considered to begin at check plan stage.) However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) realizes that Swap projects did not begin project development as Federal-aid projects and that Swap projects did not require a NEPA clearance. They also recognize that some projects scheduled for letting both before and after February 2023 may have already begun the final design phase.
Because many of these projects will result in a Programmatic Categorical Exclusion (PCE), and because many of the projects only have the 2 alternatives of either the preferred alternative or a no-build alternative, FHWA has determined that, for these routine projects, and in only this situation of converting Swap projects to Federal-aid, obtaining NEPA clearance after check-plan submittal will not violate the NEPA requirement. However, if rare/unique changes occur that would require changes to the project based on any discoveries found during the NEPA process, appropriate actions will need to be taken, which could possibly result in re-design. If you have concerns that obtaining a NEPA clearance could significantly delay the project due to very unique or special circumstances, please reach out to our Local Systems Urban Engineer or Secondary Roads Engineer to discuss options. For general project development questions, please reach out to our Project Development Team, Christy VanBuskirk and Joe Albright.
Programming: Federal-aid projects must be properly programmed in the appropriate Regional Planning Affiliation (RPA) or Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) prior to final plan turn-in. All of the RPA and MPO TIPs are then combined with the Iowa DOT Federal-aid projects to form the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The LPA is responsible for working with the applicable RPA or MPO to ensure that their project is included in the TIP/STIP and is programmed with an adequate amount of funds for the correct Federal Fiscal Year (FFY). For additional information, please see Section 2 of the Federal-aid Guide.
The RPAs and MPOs are currently working on their draft TIPs. Draft TIPs are due June 15. Beginning July 1, the TIP will close for public comment and no changes can be made until October 1, 2022. This makes reaching out to your respective RPAs and MPOs sooner rather than later very important for any project converting from Federal-aid Swap to Federal-aid to ensure it is accurately programed in the STIP. If you are unsure who your RPA or MPO contact is, please see the interactive map on this website .
As a refresher, Federal-aid projects require the following submittals:
- Project Development Submittal Dates and Information (refer to I.M. 3.010)
- Concept Statement (refer to I.M. 3.020) - as a reminder, a Concept Statement is required in order to obtain NEPA Clearance.
- Preliminary Plans (refer to I.M. 3.400)
- NEPA Clearance (refer to I.M. 4.020)
- Cultural Resource Regulations (refer to I.M. 4.120)
- ROW Acquisition (refer to I.M. 3.600)
- Check Plans (refer to I.M. 3.700)
- Final Plans (refer to I.M. 3.700)
This is not an all-inclusive list, and we strongly recommend reading the Federal-aid Project Development Guide and Iowa DOT Instructional Memorandums for Local Public Agencies as a refresher for the additional steps needed in developing Federal-aid projects.