Additional Information on Categorical Exclusions
FRA’s list of actions that typically qualify for a Categorical Exclusion (CE) are available at 23 CFR 771.116, and are also listed at the end of the FRA Categorical Exclusion Companion Guide.
To determine if a project meets the definition of a CE, project sponsors should review FRA’s list of CEs to see if their project may qualify, then evaluate if their project may include any extraordinary circumstances, may have a significant environmental impact, or require public or stakeholder engagement.
If a proposed project does not fit with one of FRA’s 22 CEs, found at 23 CFR 771.116, and has no significant impacts, FRA will look to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA, 771.117) or Federal Transit Administration (FTA, 771.118) to see if an FHWA or FTA CE is applicable.
Any proposed project qualifying as a CE under 23 CFR 771.117 or 118 may be approved by FRA when the applicable requirements of those sections have been met. FRA may consult with FHWA or FTA to ensure the CE is applicable to the proposed project. FRA, if the lead agency under NEPA, is ultimately responsible for determining the appropriate class of action (type of NEPA Document) for a project.
The FRA CE Companion Guide is intended to serve as a companion to FRA’s CE worksheet. The CE worksheet assists FRA in identifying if a proposed project fits a category of actions excluded from detailed environmental review.
Each FRA-funded project will be assigned an FRA Environmental Protection Specialist who will serve as the point of contact during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Throughout the NEPA process, FRA encourages project sponsors to consult with FRA to discuss the applicability of CEs to their proposed project and determine the appropriate level of environmental analysis.
- Study or project area maps showing the project footprint;
- Technical studies to support analysis and conclusions in the CE worksheet; and
- Written correspondence or consultation with resource agencies and/or project stakeholders if completed.
- Document the entire scope of work, including any temporary or construction-related impacts.
- Document all references, data sources, or methodologies used to support your analysis. This may include mapping tools, resources studies, or written correspondence.
- Document analysis and justification for why there is no impact to the resource under consideration.
- Several desktop review tools are available to assist with the identification of environmental resources in your project area and are found at the Environmental Weblinks section of FRA’s Recommended Trainings and Resources page.