Title 23

SECTION 778.107

778.107 Application review and approval.

§ 778.107 Application review and approval.

(a) The Operating Administration must solicit public comments on the application and must consider comments received before making a decision to approve or disapprove the application. Materials made available for this public review must include the State's application and supporting materials.

(b) After receiving an application the Operating Administration deems complete, the Operating Administration must make a decision on whether to approve or disapprove the application within 120 calendar days. The Operating Administration must transmit the decision in writing to the State with a statement explaining the decision.

(c) The Operating Administration will approve an application only if it determines the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The State is party to an agreement with the Operating Administration under 23 U.S.C. 327;

(2) The Operating Administration has determined, after considering any public comments received, the State has the capacity, including financial and personnel, to undertake the alternative environmental review and approval procedures; and

(3) The Operating Administration, in consultation with the Office of the Secretary, with the concurrence of the Chair of CEQ, and after considering public comments received, has determined that the State environmental laws and regulations described in the State's application are at least as stringent as the Federal requirements for which they substitute.

(d) The State must enter into a written agreement with the Operating Administration.

(e) The written agreement must:

(1) Be executed by the Governor (or in the case of the District of Columbia, the Mayor) or top-ranking transportation official in the State charged with responsibility for highway construction;

(2) Provide that the State agrees to assume the responsibilities of the Pilot Program, as identified by the Operating Administration;

(3) Provide that the State, in accordance with the sovereign immunity waiver process required by State law, expressly consents to and accepts Federal court jurisdiction with respect to compliance, discharge, and enforcement of any responsibility undertaken as part of the Pilot Program;

(4) Certify that State laws and regulations exist that authorize the State to carry out the responsibilities of the Pilot Program;

(5) Certify that State laws and regulations exist that are comparable to FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552), including a provision that any decision regarding the public availability of a document under the State laws and regulations is reviewable by a court of competent jurisdiction;

(6) Contain a commitment that the State will maintain the personnel and financial resources necessary to carry out its responsibilities under the Pilot Program;

(7) Have a term of not more than 5 years, the term of a State's agreement with the Operating Administration in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 327, or a term ending on December 4, 2027, whichever is sooner; and

(8) Be renewable.

(f) The State must execute the agreement before the Operating Administration executes the agreement. The Operating Administration's execution of the agreement and transmittal to the State will constitute approval of the application.

(g) The agreement may be renewed at the end of its term, but may not extend beyond December 4, 2027.

(h) A State approved to participate in the Pilot Program may apply the approved alternative environmental review and approval procedures to locally administered projects, for up to 25 local governments at the request of those local governments. For such locally administered projects, the State shall be responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the approved alternative State procedures are met.