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Feasibility of protecting corridors through the National Environmental Policy Act.
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    Final report.
  • Abstract:
    This study investigated the feasibility of using the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to make adding direct access points to a corridor more difficult. The findings were that under some circumstances, NEPA can help protect the mobility and safety of a corridor through making it more difficult, but not impossible, to add access points. Specifically, NEPA can be used to help protect a corridor through four administrative mechanisms: (1) including the limited access requirement as a condition in the record of decision; (2) effecting a contract between VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, known as the Federal-Aid Project Agreement, that stipulates limiting access as a requirement; (3) implementing a supplemental agreement between VDOT and interested parties that indicates how the character of the corridor shall be maintained; and (4) documenting the corridor-preservation conditions that remove the requirement that a project have an Environmental Impact Statement. Factors that limit the effectiveness of these techniques include the source of funds for the project, the extent to which the situation addressed during the NEPA process remains constant as time passes after the process is completed, the willingness of agencies to exercise the authority they are accorded through NEPA-related agreements, and the passage of legislation that enhances or restricts the scope of NEPA. Case studies of Virginia projects where the NEPA process has helped preserve corridor characteristics show that the process serves to raise barriers to adding access points but is not irrevocable. Because NEPA is inherently a consensus-building process that involves federal, state, local, and regional entities, a six-step blueprint for applying NEPA as part of a comprehensive corridor planning process is provided in the Appendix.

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