Environmental Review Toolkit
Planning and Environment Linkages

Linking Planning and NEPA Workshops

FHWA's Linking Planning and NEPA Workshops are designed to foster fundamental change in the culture that underlies transportation planning and project development — leading to better planning and decisionmaking, improved environmental stewardship, and streamlined delivery of transportation projects. The Linking Planning and NEPA workshop series is aimed at the U.S. DOT modal administrations, State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, transit operators, and State and Federal resource agencies.

The workshops are provided in two parts: a one-day Executive Session for senior executives; and a three-day Managers Workshop for key managers who lead transportation planning and project development studies. Thus far, a total of 21 states have participated in the workshops, beginning in Fiscal Year 2003, and with more states scheduled each year. The following items provide more information on these previously held workshops.

State Action Plans

Participants developed Action Plans as a key workshop product. These Action Plans identify opportunities for better integration within the decisionmaking process and activities that the State DOT and its partners can take to achieve stronger linkages between planning and NEPA. State Action Plans are living documents; many State DOTs have re-evaluated and updated their Action Plans to reflect changing agency needs or requirements.

To view examples of State Actions Plans, click on the states listed below:

  • Arkansas — includes strategies to improve planning by developing interdisciplinary planning and environment teams, documenting procedures, training staff, and developing project screening mechanisms.
  • Georgia — includes strategies to improve internal state DOT communication, to improve collaboration with resource/regulatory agencies, and to better carry project information throughout the project development process (e.g. developing tools or a project clearinghouse).
  • Oregon — includes strategies to inform DOT staff of planning and environment requirements and processes, conduct analyses in planning that can be carried through the NEPA process, and develop an environmental data management system.
  • South Carolina — includes strategies to develop a web-based GIS, improve internal state DOT communication, and improve collaboration with resource/regulatory agencies.
  • Texas — includes an action plan for each of Texas' four large MPOs and a discussion on how to improve statewide data use and sharing.
  • Utah — includes strategies to enhance analysis in planning, improve intra- and inter-agency coordination, enhance resource agency, MPO, and local government participation in the planning process, and define a long range planning and pre-STIP process that moves NEPA considerations earlier.
  • Wisconsin — includes strategies that mostly focus on one large MPO in developing its long range transportation and land use plans, improving internal DOT communication, and enhancing resource agency participation. The MPO effort is considered a pilot for greater interagency involvement in statewide planning.

Workshop Progress Reports

To maintain momentum on Linking Planning and NEPA initiatives and identify further opportunities for FHWA assistance, the USDOT Volpe Center conducted three interviews with workshop participants. Common themes, innovative initiatives, and state recommendations for FHWA assistance have been summarized in the Progress Reports listed below. Note that some activities may have changed since these reports, so please contact individual states for more information related to their current efforts.

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

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