Below are some updates from the VDOT Environmental Division that impact Locally Administered Projects.

Second in a Series of Required Environmental Certification

Modules Now Available

In June 2022, the VDOT Local Assistance Division and Environmental Division released the second in a series of certification modules for consultants working on VDOT projects and/or locally administered projects. These modules review policies, practices, and guidance for completing environmental tasks, and highlight VDOT’s expectations of consultants in order to have an efficient and defensible statewide program. The second set of modules to be released cover cultural resources. The first set of modules covered the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and was released in September 2021.
The modules are focused on pertinent information for trained cultural resources practitioners to more effectively work with VDOT. They also include key terms, practices, and expectations for the Section 106 process. Beginning on December 15th, VDOT and locality staff issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that include services for the review of cultural resources will require the proposed cultural resources practitioners to provide a copy of the certificate they receive upon completing all of the cultural resources certification modules. In addition, VDOT staff who are reviewing cultural resources products will only accept and coordinate cultural resources products with individuals who have completed all of the cultural resources certification modules. For questions or issues related to the environmental certification modules, please contact environmental.certification@vdot.virginia.gov.
Both environmental certification modules (cultural resources and NEPA) are available to the public via VDOT University which can be accessed at https://VirtualCampus.VDOT.Virginia.gov. From this location, users can log-in with an existing account or create an account. Once logged in, search for the applicable module (cultural resources or NEPA), and a link to the curriculum will come up. A list of Frequently Asked Questions is posted with the curriculum on VDOT University. For questions or issues related to VDOT University, please contact VDOTUniversity@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

Environmental Justice Update

 Environmental Justice (EJ) Analysis to Support NEPA Documents: the threshold-based “EJ math” that is prescribed in EM-NEPA-714, dated 6/25/2020, is no longer acceptable to the federal agencies. The below hyperlink is meant to provide consistent statewide guidance as we await further direction from FHWA. Interim EJ Guidance

Northern Long-Eared Bat Up listing

Northern Long-Eared Bat Up listing: In the March 23 2022 Federal Register notice, USFWS stated they will be reclassifying NLEB from federally threatened to endangered. In doing so, NLEB would lose its protections under the 4d Rule. The final rulemaking on NLEB is tied to a court order and the final listing decision effective date is December 22, 2022. After 12/22/22, the 4d rule will no longer exist and tree removal will no longer be a covered activity under the 4d rule. The USFWS has said that for projects that have relied on the 4d Rule and if tree removal is not complete by 12/22/22, additional consultation under ESA Section 7 may be required. VDOT plans to send LAP 4d Rule guidance within the next few weeks as more information becomes available.

 

Check out the webpage at
.http://www.virginiadot.org/business/local-assistance.asp