Environmental Review Toolkit
NEPA and Project Development

NEPA and Transportation Decisionmaking

Elements of Purpose and Need

The purpose and need of a project is essential in establishing a basis for the development of the range of reasonable alternatives required in an EIS and assists with the identification and eventual selection of a preferred alternative.

The following items may be listed and described in the purpose and need statement for a proposed action. These are by no means all-inclusive or applicable in every situation. They are intended as a guide.

  • Project Status — Briefly describe the action's history, including measures taken to date, other agencies and governmental units involved, action spending, schedules, etc.
  • Capacity — Discuss the capacity of the present facility and its ability to meet present and projected traffic demands. Discuss what capacity and levels of service for existing and proposed facilities are needed.
  • System Linkage — Discuss if the proposed action is a "connecting link" and how it fits into the transportation system.
  • Transportation Demand — Discuss the action's relationship to any statewide plan or adopted urban transportation plan. In addition, explain any related traffic forecasts that are substantially different from those estimates of the 23 U.S.C. 134 (Section 134) planning process.
  • Legislation — Explain if there is a Federal, state, or local governmental mandate for the action.
  • Social Demands or Economic Development — Describe how the action will foster new employment and benefit schools, land use plans, recreation facilities, etc. In addition, describe projected economic development/land use changes that indicate the need to improve or add to the highway capacity.
  • Modal Interrelationships — Explain how the proposed action will interface with and serve to complement airports, rail and port facilities, mass transit services, etc.
  • Safety — Explain if the proposed action is necessary to correct an existing or potential safety hazard. In addition, explain if the existing accident rate is excessively high and why, and how the proposed action will improve safety.
  • Roadway Deficiencies — Explain if and how the proposed action is necessary to correct existing roadway deficiencies (e.g., substandard geometrics, load limits on structures, inadequate cross-section, high maintenance costs, etc.) In addition, explain how the proposed action will correct these deficiencies.

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