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Programmatic Agreements Library (PAL) Database

Programmatic Agreement Details

PA Category




PA Title

Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement

PA Overview

This Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement between the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) designates the Caltrans District Environmental Office Chief to determine if Federal-aid, on-State Highway System projects meet Programmatic Categorical Exclusion (PCE) criteria. The Caltrans District Environmental Office Chief in conjunction with the District Local Assistance Engineer determine if Federal aid, off-State Highway System projects meet the PCE criteria.

This 2003 PA supersedes the 1990 PA and among the changes from the 1990 PA, this PA expands the consideration of cumulative effects, accepts Section 4(f) programmatic agreement determinations, and expands the protection of agricultural land.


Federal Highway Administration
California Department of Transportation

Date of Original PA


Date of Latest PA


Expiration Date


Renewal Provisions/Process

The PA does not specify a renewal process or requirement; however, FHWA and Caltrans have been open to renegotiations as evidenced in the 2003 agreement, which reflects a broadening of provisions over the previous 1990 agreement.

Geographic Coverage Display



To determine if the PA can be used, a number of resources are available, including: geographic information systems (GIS) databases, video-logs of the State Highway System, and the Standard Environmental Reference (SER). The SER is an electronic reference ( created by Caltrans that has information on the environmental process, regulations, policies, and procedures. In addition, there is a table in November 19, 2003 memorandum that announced the PA that compares the 1990 and 2003 agreements. This table can also serve as a checklist to determine a project’s eligibility for a programmatic categorical exclusion determination.

Key Attributes

Actions identified on the c and d lists in 23 CFR 771.117 are included as part of the PA, subject to the “unusual circumstances” exception in 23 CFR 771.117. Since 2003, approximately 90 percent of Caltrans projects have been classified and processed as PCEs. Caltrans keeps track of the number of PCEs completed, along with other project data, and reports annually to FHWA.

Comments on Development/Use of PA


Estimated # of Projects Served or Processed Under Agreement (per year)

Up to 750 projects are processed each year under this agreement.


Kelly Dunlap (Primary Contact)
Richard Weaver (Secondary Contact)
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
Division of Environmental Analysis/Environmental Management Office
(916) 651-8164

Lisa Cathcart-Randall
Federal Highway Administration
(916) 498-5048

Web Address

File Attachments

California_NEPA Categorical Exclusion_2003.pdf (383 kb)

AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
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