Environmental Review Toolkit
Planning and Environment Linkages

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Planning and Environment Linkages: Overview and Examples

Slide 1
Planning and Environment Linkages: Overview and Examples

TRB Workshop on Environmental Analysis, January 13, 2008
Michael Culp and Rob Ritter
FHWA Office of Environment and Planning
Washington, DC

Slide 2
Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL): What is it?

  • An APPROACH to transportation decision-making
  • A PROGRAM promoting tools and resources
  • Supports FHWA Planning Regulations

Slide 3
Planning and Environment Linkages: An Integrated, System Perspective

This slide shows a graphic depicting an integrated planning approach, where multiple types of resources, including the land use system, transportation system, water resources system and other natural and cultural resource systems are integrated and planned for collaboratively.

Slide 4

This slide shows a graphic of the interplay of Transportation and Resource agencies in both system-level planning and project-level decision.

Slide 5
Expected Benefits of PEL

  • Relationship-building
  • Process efficiency
  • On-the-ground outcomes

Slide 6
Important Elements of PEL

  • Intra-Agency Coordination
  • Inter-Agency Coordination
  • Data Sharing and Analysis

Slide 7
Intra-Agency Coordination

  • Obtain executive level commitment to a more comprehensive process
  • Increase coordination among planning, environment, GIS and IT staff
  • Sample Actions:
    • Conduct inter-disciplinary meetings
    • Host cross-training sessions
    • Develop agency-wide guidance

Slide 8
Inter-Agency Coordination

  • Involve resource agencies early in transportation planning
  • Sample Actions:
    • Establish interagency work groups or committees
    • Host workshops (e.g., Linking Conservation and Transportation Planning)
    • Establish MOU's/MOA's

Slide 9
Data Sharing and Analysis

  • Share data/analyses among agencies
  • Overlay proposed transportation projects on identified sensitive resources
  • Data and Analysis Tools:
    • Geographic Information Systems
    • Project Screening Tools

Slide 10
Some PEL Examples

California: Riverside County Integrated Project (RCIP)

  • Incorporate 3 formerly distinct plans:
    • General Plan for land use and housing
    • Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan for plant and animal conservation
    • Community and Environmental Transportation Acceptability Process (CETAP) for highways and transit systems
  • CETAP transportation corridor planning project identified as priority project under EO 13274

Slide 11
Some PEL Examples

Colorado: Strategic Transportation, Environmental, and Planning Process for Urban Places (STEP-UP)

  • Improved process and methodology for addressing environmental impacts of transportation projects at earliest possible stage
  • GIS-based tools for identifying impacts early
  • Regional Cumulative Effects Assessment process to understand effects of transportation development on land use and environment
  • Creation of environmental screening GIS web-based application

Slide 12
Some PEL Examples

North Carolina: Environmental Stewardship Policy Integrated planning strategy of NCDOT

  • Merger 101 process - streamlined project development and permitting
  • Ecosystem Enhancement Program - integrates watershed and transportation planning
  • Integrated Transportation Planning and Project Development Process - identified 8 linkages between planning and NEPA

Slide 13
Some PEL Examples

North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)

  • Created "Transportation Resource Agency Consultation and Environmental Streamlining" (TRACES) Program
  • Established working group to advise long range plan update/planning activities
  • Hosted Linking Conservation and Transportation Planning Workshop
  • Receiving FHWA Grant to implement Regional Ecosystem Framework
  • Website: http://www.nctcog.org/traces/restrict/

Slide 14
PEL and Related FHWA Activities

This slide shows a graphic of the FHWA activities that connect transportation planning and the environment. The activities include Eco-Logical, Integrated Planning Work Group, Linking Conservation & Transportation Planning, and Context Sensitive Solutions.

Slide 15
FHWA PEL Website


  • Overview of approach and concepts
  • Tips on identifying activities to implement approach
  • Descriptions of effective practices
  • Links to other related information resources
  • Related guidance, regulations, and SAFETEA-LU provisions

Help us build the knowledge base! Send comments, info to Diane Turchetta, diane.turchetta@dot.gov or Michael Culp, Michael.culp@dot.gov.

Slide 16

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

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