Federal Environmental Process

NEPA Process - How decisions are made

As with every significant federally funded transportation project, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared for the Red Line Study. The purpose of the EIS document is to conduct a thorough and public study of potential human, cultural, and natural environmental impacts for each of the transit types (modes) and routes (alignments) under consideration.

Study Steps

Notice of Intent

The Notice of Intent (NOI) is an announcement to the public and to interested agencies that a project is being developed and that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared.

April 2003


The Scoping Report identifies the alternatives and impacts that will be examined in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An important part of this phase is to go out to the public for their ideas, comments and concerns. Scoping identifies the key resources and issues that the project needs to address.

October 2004

Alternatives Analysis

The information collected during the Scoping phase is used to identify, consider, and analyze types of transit (modes) and routes (alignments) that are reasonable, feasible, and practical from a technical and economic standpoint.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) includes examination of the natural, cultural and socioeconomic environmental impacts of various alternatives.

September 2008

Locally Preferred Alternative

The Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is the mode and general alignment selected from among those presented in the AA/DEIS. The LPA is further studied and is the basis of the Preferred Alternative.

August 2009

Final Environmental Impact Statement

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) identifies a preferred alternative, responds to comments received on the DEIS, demonstrates compliance with related environmental statutes such as the National Historic Preservation Act, and identifies commitments made to mitigate impacts of the project.

December 2012

Record of Decision

The Record of Decision (ROD) is the final step in the EIS process. The ROD is a concise report that states FTA's determination that NEPA has been completed for the proposed project. It describes the basis for the decision, identifies alternatives that were considered and summarizes specific mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. With a ROD, the project may proceed into final design and construction.

February 2013

Updated Section 4(f) Documentation

July 8, 2014

Section 4(f) of the US Department of Transportation Act of 1966, 49 USC 303(c) requires that the proposed use of land from any significant publicly-owned public park, recreation area, wildlife and/or waterfowl refuge, or any significant historic site may not be approved as part of a federally-funded or approved transportation project unless:   

  • FTA determines that there is no feasible and prudent avoidance alternative to the use of land from the property, and the action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use (23 CFR 774.3(a)); or
  • FTA determines that the use of the Section 4(f) properties, including any measures to minimize harm (such as avoidance, minimization, mitigation, or enhancements measures) committed to by the applicant, would have a de minimis impact on the property (23 CFR 774.3(b)).

The Red Line would use several properties protected under Section 4(f). The MTA and FTA documented the uses of Section 4(f) property in Chapter 6 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the basis for approving those uses, including several findings of de minimis impact. Chapter 6 of the FEIS also documented the basis for determining that the project would not result in a “use” of certain Section 4(f) properties, including several findings that the project qualifies for a “temporary occupancy exception”.

Since the FEIS was approved and the Record of Decision (ROD) was issued, the design for the Red Line has continued and the MTA has updated its understanding of the Red Line project’s impacts to Section 4(f) properties. FTA/MTA are currently coordinating with Baltimore City and Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks to provide these agencies with an update and to request their concurrence with the latest Section 4(f) resource impacts based on the current level of design.The information and data included in the table and figures outlines the current status of Section 4(f) impacts based on the current design, and compares the current impacts to what was presented at the FEIS/ROD phase. Based on this information, FTA and MTA are requesting the concurrence of the City and County in updated Section 4(f) findings as described in the attached documentation. These include: (1) updated findings of de minimis impact and (2) updated findings that the project qualifies for a temporary occupancy exception and/or for an exception that applies to mitigation activities. The MTA closed the public comment period on the updated Section 4(f) documentation on August 9, 2014.