Environmental Review Toolkit
Planning and Environment Linkages

Linking Planning and NEPA Managers Workshop

Little Rock, Arkansas

Draft Action Plan
June 10, 2004

Strengths of
Existing Process
Shortcomings of
Existing Process
Strategies/Actions Priority Benefits Responsible Person(s) Action Date
Planning decisions generally stand up over time — but not always. Planning studies can get stale due to time lag between planning and NEPA Corridor preservation ... try to get local commitment to projects and protect right of way. Champion and develop recommendations Low spacer David Blakeney
spacer No filtering process for low impact projects. Develop filtering mechanism to eliminate proposals that are unpromising with input from others High spacer spacer spacer
Develop filtering mechanism to identify simple, low impact projects for streamlined processing High
Planning is GPG (generally pretty good) at establishing Purpose & Need statements. Could do better job of defining problems in planning. Use FHWA Purpose and Need checklist to make sure everything is covered. Identify specific things that may hinder projects. High spacer spacer spacer
Planning and environmental sections should work together to identify what matters, using interdisciplinary teams. High
Develop purpose and need statements on longer segments — overarching P&N statement for whole corridor rather than individual segments of independent utility. Medium
AHTD is using corridor studies to eliminate corridor alternatives in planning — considering environmental factors. Not trying to select alignment in planning. No interdisciplinary approach to corridor selection. AHTD and MPOs have no mechanism to invite resource agency participation in planning studies. Lack of environmental analysis in planning — esp. cumulative impacts. Alternatives are dismissed too quickly. Environmental section and surveys should share GIS data sets with planners. Need agreements between AHTD sections on workload sharing. High spacer spacer spacer
Planning needs timely assistance from design and survey divisions to assess alternatives early. High
AHTD should give MPOs guidance/assistance on analysis needed to eliminate alternatives in planning. Medium
AHTD and MPOs should share plans with resource agencies. Medium
spacer No State or regional process for assessing cumulative impacts. Establish a QIP team to see what other states are doing and to start developing AHTD process Medium spacer spacer spacer
spacer Context sensitive design is an afterthought. No opportunity to rethink designs based on new information. Develop context sensitive design (CSD) process — screening to identify suitable projects for CSD. High spacer spacer spacer
AHTD & FHWA are developing one seamless PI process covering planning through project development. Lack of early public involvement at present time. PI is not done in planning studies to determine project feasibility. AHTD should proceed with QIP team developing Phase 2 of PI process improvement. Expand to include planning, project development and design. One integrated process. Bring in MPOs and development districts. High spacer spacer spacer
AHTD uses management team approach on selected high profile projects — teams include survey, environment, roadway and bridge design, R-O-W, construction. AHTD planning section and MPOs are not part of the teams. Teams do not start early enough in process. There is little feedback from design/construction to planning. AHTD should look at its organization structure and improve collaboration between the planning and environmental divisions. High spacer Convince Scott Bennett of need for structural change. spacer
This could include project management teams for appropriate projects. Teams should include all AHTD disciplines, and MPOs and resource/regulatory agencies when appropriate. High
Look into staff sharing across organizational units — "service center" concept. Medium
Planning needs timely assistance from design and survey divisions to assess proposals early. Specific staff should be designated for this function. High
Make sure all staff units have sufficient time to participate in teaming activities — give this priority. High
Look at staff utilization and cross training. Medium
Develop structured written procedures detailing each division's actions as projects move from concept to final. Medium
Consider AHTD orientation for planners and environmental staff — like engineers get now. High
AHTD held high level summit meeting with resource agencies 3 years ago, leading to MOAs. Other than project-specific actions, there have been no subsequent summit meetings to evaluate success of collaboration. Follow up on Summit Meeting with staff level coordination meetings. Low spacer spacer spacer
spacer AHTD planning branch has insufficiently trained staff — retention problem. Use Arkansas Assoc. of MPOs as vehicle for training and information sharing. High spacer spacer spacer
Obtain training in non-modeling travel demand forecasting. Medium
Obtain training in use of Census Transportation Planning Package. Medium
Look at workload and redistribute and/or hire more AHTD staff in planning, public involvement, GIS High
spacer External trip data are not available Look into developing statewide traffic projections Low spacer spacer spacer
spacer Employment Security Data (ESD) not available. Develop agreements for acquisition of ESD data. Medium spacer spacer spacer

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