Agreement gives ADOT environmental review authority for certain projects

PHOENIX – When the Arizona Department of Transportation installs a digital message board, rehabilitates a bridge, renovates a rest area or takes on similar work that makes up nearly all of its projects requiring compliance with federal environmental regulations, the speed of completion can depend in part on coordination with and review by multiple federal agencies.

Recognizing that states can comply with federal environmental requirements on their own while streamlining processes, a new agreement assigns ADOT environmental review authority and responsibility for many projects found to not have significant environmental impacts. A Memorandum of Understanding signed Wednesday by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration applies to projects commonly referred to as Categorical Exclusions.

“Governor Ducey has challenged state agencies to eliminate red tape and work at the speed of business, and this agreement allows ADOT to accomplish both,” said Dallas Hammit, ADOT state engineer and deputy director for transportation. “We can manage projects more efficiently while continuing to meet strict environmental requirements.”

Congress recognized the benefits of such agreements with legislation creating a program known as CE Assignment to expedite environmental review. This allows a state to assume decision-making and legal responsibility for meeting requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws otherwise administered by the Federal Highway Administration for projects qualifying as Categorical Exclusions. Alaska, California, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas and Utah have taken or are pursuing similar action.

To qualify as Categorical Exclusions projects must not significantly affect air, noise or water quality, natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resources, planned growth or land use, or travel patterns. They also must not require the relocation of significant numbers of people. Categorical Exclusions may require additional environmental analysis and coordination to confirm whether the designation is appropriate.

Other examples of projects that can qualify as Categorical Exclusions include rehabilitating highways, installing ramp meters, adding landscaping, installing utilities along and across highways, and installing fencing, pavement markings, traffic signals and railroad warnings.

ADOT is developing a second Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Highway Administration under what’s known as the NEPA Assignment Program for highway projects that require either an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. That agreement is expected to be in place later this year.

Short closure of US 89 north of Page scheduled this week

PAGE – The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers around Page to expect delays in both directions on US 89 at Glen Canyon Bridge on Tuesday, January 9, between 1 and 1:30 p.m. This short closure is necessary for crews to repair roadway lighting fixtures on both sides of the road.

Drivers should proceed through the work zone with caution, slow down and watch for construction personnel and equipment.

Information needed for deer poaching near Kingman

KINGMAN – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking information about the recent illegal killing of a fawn mule deer doe near Kingman.

The fawn was found near Twin Hills Road in the Blake Ranch area of the Peacock Mountains located in Game Management Unit 15B. Only the head of the fawn was found at the scene with evidence that it had been removed by someone. The crime is believed to have been committed the night of December 30 or early morning of December 31, 2017.

Evidence was collected at the scene, but help from the public will play a critical role in finding those responsible, said Wildlife Manager Cody Johnston.

“This is not the act of a hunter, it’s the act of a poacher,” said Johnston. “The vast majority of hunters practice outdoor ethics, have a respect for our wildlife resources, and comply with wildlife laws. Poachers are simply individuals who steal a valuable and limited resource from the people of Arizona. It is important for anyone with information to come forward and help Game and Fish bring those responsible to justice.”

Johnston noted that the hunter community does a good job of policing itself, and most reports of wildlife law violations received through the Operation Game Thief (OGT) hotline are reported by hunters.

OGT rewards are paid from the Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund, which is funded largely by criminal fines and civil restitutions from wildlife violators. No reward money comes from the sale of hunting/fishing licenses.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the department’s OGT hotline at (800) 352-0700, or visit, and refer to case #17-005055. Callers may be eligible for a reward up to $500 in this case. Callers identities’ are confidential and can remain anonymous upon request.