23 CFR § 636.109 - How does the NEPA process relate to the design-build procurement process?
The purpose of this section is to ensure that there is an objective NEPA process, that public officials and citizens have the necessary environmental impact information for federally funded actions before actions are taken, and that design-build proposers do not assume an unnecessary amount of risk in the event the NEPA process results in a significant change in the proposal, and that the amount payable by the contracting agency to the design-builder does not include significant contingency as the result of risk placed on the design-builder associated with significant changes in the project definition arising out of the NEPA process. Therefore, with respect to the design-build procurement process:
(a) The contracting agency may:
(2) Issue an RFP after the conclusion of the NEPA process;
(3) Issue an RFP prior to the conclusion of the NEPA process as long as the RFP informs proposers of the general status of the NEPA process and that no commitment will be made as to any alternative under evaluation in the NEPA process, including the no-build alternative;
(4) Proceed with the award of a design-build contract prior to the conclusion of the NEPA process;
(2) The contracting agency may permit any design and engineering activities to be undertaken for the purposes of defining the project alternatives and completing the NEPA alternatives analysis and review process; complying with other related environmental laws and regulations; supporting agency coordination, public involvement, permit applications, or development of mitigation plans; or developing the design of the preferred alternative to a higher level of detail when the lead agencies agree that it is warranted in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 139(f)(4)(D);
(3) The design-build contract must include appropriate provisions preventing the design-builder from proceeding with final design activities and physical construction prior to the completion of the NEPA process (contract hold points or another method of issuing multi-step approvals must be used);
(4) The design-build contract must include appropriate provisions ensuring that no commitments are made to any alternative being evaluated in the NEPA process and that the comparative merits of all alternatives presented in the NEPA document, including the no-build alternative, will be evaluated and fairly considered;
(5) The design-build contract must include appropriate provisions ensuring that all environmental and mitigation measures identified in the NEPA document will be implemented;
(6) The design-builder must not prepare the NEPA document or have any decisionmaking responsibility with respect to the NEPA process;
(7) Any consultants who prepare the NEPA document must be selected by and subject to the exclusive direction and control of the contracting agency;
(8) The design-builder may be requested to provide information about the project and possible mitigation actions, and its work product may be considered in the NEPA analysis and included in the record; and
(9) The design-build contract must include termination provisions in the event that the no-build alternative is selected.
(c) The contracting agency must receive prior FHWA concurrence before issuing the RFP, awarding a design-build contract and proceeding with preliminary design work under the design-build contract. Should the contracting agency proceed with any of the activities specified in this section before the completion of the NEPA process (with the exception of preliminary design, as provided in paragraph (d) of this section), the FHWA's concurrence merely constitutes the FHWA approval that any such activities complies with Federal requirements and does not constitute project authorization or obligate Federal funds.
(d) The FHWA's authorization and obligation of preliminary engineering and other preconstruction funds prior to the completion of the NEPA process is limited to preliminary design and such additional activities as may be necessary to complete the NEPA process. After the completion of the NEPA process, the FHWA may issue an authorization to proceed with final design and construction and obligate Federal funds for such purposes.
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