Environmental Review Toolkit
Planning and Environment Linkages

Data and Analysis Resources

The resources listed below provide information on data and analytical tools that transportation professionals can use to achieve stronger linkages between planning and the environment.

PEL encourages agencies to adopt an integrated approach that addresses multiple community goals, including transportation, environment and quality of life.
PEL encourages agencies to adopt an integrated approach that addresses multiple community goals, including transportation, environment and quality of life.

Federal Resources

The Sustainable Highways Initiative supports programs and activities conducted across the Federal Highway Administration to facilitate balanced decisionmaking among environmental, economic, and social values – the triple bottom line of sustainability. The site contains resources that can assist practitioners in achieving Planning and Environment Linkages. The site also includes a link to the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST 1.0), an online self-evaluation tool intended to help transportation agencies incorporate sustainability in decisionmaking. INVEST provides agencies with performance metrics to evaluate progress and chart goals in many areas, including integrated planning and linking planning and NEPA.

A Guide to Measuring Progress in Linking Transportation Planning and Environmental Analysis (2009) — FHWA has published this guide to assist transportation agencies in developing their own programs to measure the successes of PEL-related activities. The guide provides a measurement framework, an overall PEL goal, four sample objectives, and an array of example metrics to track progress toward achieving the goals and objectives.

Projecting Land-Use Change: A Summary of Models for Assessing the Effects of Community Growth and Change on Land Use Patterns, U.S. EPA by Schock, Susan; 2000.

Scenario Planning is an analytical tool for developing a shared vision for the future by analyzing various forces (e.g., health, transportation, economic, environmental, land use, etc.) that affect growth. This tool can compare various future alternatives with regard to transportation and community needs to educate stakeholders about growth trends and trade-offs, enabling them to offer targeted feedback that can be incorporated into plans. Scenario planning is an analysis tool that can help achieve the stronger linkages between planning and environment described here.

The FHWA's GIS in Transportation program has documented noteworthy uses of GIS for transportation and GIS-related events and resources. GIS is a key data analysis and sharing tool that can be used to strengthen planning and environment linkages. The link above brings you directly to a database of case studies on how agencies are using GIS for transportation analysis, including how GIS can be used to share and analyze environmental data, as well as additional resources for applying this key tool.

Eco-Logical: Funding and Partnerships describes available funding and partnering programs and financial tools to help implement integrated planning programs and projects, including activities that might be conceived under Planning and Environment Linkages.

The FHWA's Tool Kit for Integrating Land Use and Transportation Decision-Making provides a user-friendly source of methods, strategies, and procedures for integrating land use and transportation planning, decision-making, and project implementation. Much of the approach discussed here is about such integration, so these tools, if applied, would achieve stronger Planning and Environment Linkages as well.

Community Impact Assessment allows for a community's concerns (mobility, safety, employment effects, relocation, isolation, etc.) to be addressed in transportation decision-making. The information-gathering activities promoted by CIA represent the human environment side to the environmental factors to be incorporated into the planning process as described here.

The National Geospatial Program Office (NGPO) serves as a clearinghouse of information on how to obtain and share geographic data. Sharing and analyzing geographic data will be a key component of any effort to strengthen planning and environment linkages, and the NGPO can be a valuable source of information for developing data capabilities. The NGPO houses the National Map, Geospatial One-Stop, and the Federal Geographic Data Committee, links to which are provided on its website.

State Resources

Regional Transportation and Land Use Decision Making: A Multistate Analysis. In 2010, an interdisciplinary team from the National Policy Consensus Center (NPCC) and the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon conducted a study examining the arrangements and mechanisms for integrating land use and transportation in metropolitan regions and assessing these arrangements based on current practice and future potential. The four case study regions were: Portland, Oregon; Puget Sound, WA; San Diego, CA; and Denver, CO. The methods used in this study included a research forum held in September, 2010 in Portland, Oregon to share findings, discuss implications, identify lessons learned, and develop best practices. The Forum was funded by the Federal Highway Administration STEP Research Program, the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), the Oregon Department of Transportation, the University of Oregon, and Portland State University.

Wildlife Action Plans have recently been completed by each state and are valuable data and information resources for agencies wishing to strengthen planning and environment linkages by considering habitat and conservation issues more systemically in planning. Plans for most US States and territories can be found through the above link above. In addition, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has conducted a review of these plans. See the report.

Other Resources

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) lists geospatial activities and information, and a contact person for each state. If a data repository exists, it can be accessed by a link in the geographic information site listed for the individual state.
(Suggestion: hover mouse over the appropriate state graphic and click for the link to resources).

Highlights of tools aimed at watershed protection and additional information can be found at the following websites:

Decision support systems for ecosystem management: an evaluation of existing systems by Mowrer, H. Todd, Barber, Klaus; et. al. 1997, Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-296. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station.

The Green Infrastructure approach to conservation provides a way to plan and implementing interconnected green space systems (such as parks, trails, and other green spaces) in conjunction with existing and planned gray infrastructure (such as roads and buildings). Green infrastructure planning efforts can provide geographic resource information and conservation priorities that can be used as inputs in the transportation planning process. See the Events section of the website to learn about The Conservation Fund's Green Infrastructure Course, or contact Kris Hoellen at khoellen@conservationfund.org.

Environmental Geospatial Information for Transportation documents a Peer Exchange workshop attended by the transportation and resource management communities that focused on sharing experiences of successful collaboration, data sharing, and applications of environmental GIS data and technologies in transportation planning.

NCHRP 25-22: Technologies to Improve Consideration of Environmental Concerns in Transportation Decisions (September 2000) presents existing and emerging technologies for achieving improved transportation decisions. Many of these technologies are tools that enable and facilitate better planning and environment linkages.

AASHTO's Environmental Considerations in Planning webpage provides an overview of environmental considerations in transportation planning, as well as research documents, case studies and training opportunities.

For questions or feedback on this subject matter content, please contact Jody McCullough or Marisel Lopez-Cruz.

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