CSS enabling federal legislation and connection to NEPA.
Beginning in 1969, NEPA required that agencies performing federally funded projects undergo a thorough analysis of their impacts to both natural and human environmental resources. Since that time, the U.S. Congress passed a series of policy acts and regulations to strengthen and increase the commitment to environmental quality. In 1991, Congress emphasized the federal commitment to preserve historic, scenic, and cultural resources as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. Section 1016(a) of that Act provides approval for transportation projects that affect historic facilities or are located in areas of historic or scenic value only if projects are designed to appropriate standards or if mitigation measures allow for the preservation of these resources.
In 1995, Congress passed the National Highway System Designation Act, emphasizing, among other things, flexibility in highway design to further promote preservation of historic, scenic, and aesthetic resources. This act provided funding capabilities for transportation enhancements and supported applications to modify design standards for the purpose of preserving important historic and scenic resources. Most importantly, the Act extended these considerations to federally funded transportation projects not on the National Highway System.
Thirty years of history in national environmental policy making has demonstrated a response to increasing public interest and concern about transportation projects' impacts. The public and local officials have begun to question not only the design or physical features of projects, but also the basic premise or assumptions behind them as put forth by the many agencies. Evidence of this trend is the great number of major projects around the country that have been significantly delayed or stopped, not for lack of fuding or even demonstrated transportation need, but for lack of satisfaction that the proposed solution met community and other non-transportation needs.