Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Successes in Stewardship
Monthly Newsletter
February 2003

Environmental Stewardship: The Right Way to Do Business

Meeting Transportation Needs While Demonstrating Environmental Commitment

When transportation agencies adopt environmental stewardship as the way they do business, they can move from a reactive and regulatory-driven role to a proactive and innovative role that demonstrates their environmental commitment. Environmental stewardship empowers agencies and stakeholders to take advantage of opportunities to incorporate environmental features into the entire transportation development process. These opportunities can only be successful through internal and external communication with agency staff and the public. By partnering with resource and regulatory agencies, local municipalities, communities, non-profit organizations, and industry, transportation agencies can develop high quality transportation projects and efficient and effective environmental enhancements.

Sidewalk enhancements on George Street in New Brunswick, NJ  (NJDOT Image)
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) actively promotes environmental stewardship through its Vital Few Environmental Stewardship and Streamlining Goal (Environment VFG). Environmental stewardship and streamlining promote improved and more efficient environmental review processes that benefit both the environment and transportation projects. The Environment VFG encourages transportation agencies to implement initiatives that protect ecosystems through broad mitigation strategies, partnerships that promote conservation, and other strategies.
Fish ladder on Spooner Creek (NYSDOT Image)

Benefits of Environmental Stewardship

  • Expands environmental and community benefits.
  • Helps the public view transportation projects and agencies as environmentally friendly.
  • Improves relationships with resource and regulatory agencies.
  • Expedites permit approval and project review.
  • Saves project development and mitigation costs.
  • Improves project quality.
  • Maximizes regulatory flexibility.

Effective Practices for Implementing Stewardship

  • Integration of stewardship activities into planning, design, construction, and maintenance.
  • Outreach to determine stakeholder needs.
  • Communication and partnerships with resource agencies and other stakeholders to achieve common goals and pool resources.
  • Monitoring of environmental commitments.
  • Environmental management systems that promote environmental consciousness in agency projects and processes.
  • Support from upper management.
  • Performance measures, continuous evaluation, and process improvements.
  • Recognition of staff effectively implementing stewardship.
  • Staff training and support.
  • Adequate budget to meet goals.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) are currently integrating innovative environmental stewardship practices into their daily business. NYSDOT's former environmental manager is now its maintenance manager. This position helps to foster environmental considerations throughout the entire transportation process. The following table describes the goals, features, and implementation strategies used by NYSDOT and NJDOT in their environmental stewardship initiatives. These initiatives can be tailored by other states to meet their own unique needs.

New York (NYSDOT)
www.dot.state.ny.us/eab/envinit.html
New Jersey (NJDOT)
www.state.nj.us/transportation/works/environment/overview.htm
Background NYSDOT began implementing its Environmental Initiative in 1998. The initiative has dramatically changed NYSDOT's operations, processes, and relationships with partners and stakeholders. As environmental concerns in communities grew, NJDOT began promoting stewardship in 2001.
Goals
  • Promote and strengthen an environmental ethic throughout NYSDOT.
  • Advance state environmental policies and objectives with NYSDOT resources.
  • Partner with resource and regulatory agencies, local municipalities, non-profit organizations, industry, and others to construct environmental enhancements.
  • Develop environmentally sound transportation projects that meet community needs with little disruption.
  • Strengthen relationships with environmental agencies, organizations, and local municipalities.
  • Pilot new environmental protection and enhancement methods.
  • Increase public outreach and involvement in the transportation process and stewardship activities.
  • Promote the use of context sensitive design principles.
  • Improve New Jersey's environment and the quality of life of its citizens.
  • Promote environmental practices in construction.
  • Promote environmental stewardship among employees.
Features of State Environmental Stewardship
  • Incorporation of stewardship activities (wetlands creation and restoration, stormwater retrofits, transportation corridor enhancements, etc.) from planning to maintenance.
  • Incorporation of environmental enhancements supported by other agencies, municipalities, or groups into projects.
  • Incorporation into construction and maintenance specific elements and design features to prevent or mitigate adverse effects:
    • Checklist to track environmental practices performed by maintenance staff and crews.
    • Senior environmental staff in all regional construction and maintenance units.
    • Use of context sensitive design principles.
  • Pilots to research methods to reduce toxins, improve air quality, increase the use of recycled materials, etc.
  • Information sharing and training with environmental agencies, organizations, and local municipalities.
  • Promotion of context sensitive solutions.
  • Consideration of the environment in construction and maintenance.
  • Environmental Management Practices field guide to assist construction crews.
  • Permits online and accessible to contractors to foster compliance.
  • Environmental plan sheets included in construction plans.
  • Construction Authorization Environmental Inventory Form to track impacts and mitigation.
  • Regular erosion, sediment control, and hazardous waste project inspections.
  • Compliance reviews of projects under construction.
Implementation Steps
  • Revision of NYSDOT mission, procedures, and guidelines to incorporate environmental stewardship goals.
  • Incorporation of an environmental ethic throughout the entire transportation process.
  • Development and implementation of action plans.
  • Formation of multi-disciplinary teams that investigate innovative environmental elements.
  • Tracking of activities by project and activity type.
  • Regular meetings and partnerships with stakeholders.
  • Staff training and handbooks.
  • Appointment of Stewardship Action Group and environmental coordinators.
  • Review of existing programs to identify opportunities for enhancements and stakeholder consultation.
  • Recommendation to management of stewardship elements to implement.
  • Expanded public outreach and involvement.
  • Reports and information sharing.

Contact Information

Jeanette Mar
FHWA New Jersey Division
840 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 310W
Trenton, NJ 08628
Phone: (609) 637-4203
Fax: (609) 538-4913
Email: jeanette.mar@fhwa.dot.gov
Jeffrey Firmin
FHWA New York Division
Leo O'Brien Federal Building, 7th Floor
Albany, NY 12207
Phone: (518) 431-4125 X220
Fax: (518) 431-4140
Email: jeffrey.firmin@fhwa.dot.gov

FHWA-AASHTO Environmental Stewardship Demonstration Projects

Twenty-two states have registered environmental stewardship demonstrations, including NY and NJ. To learn more about these projects, visit:
www.stewardship.transportation.org

For more information on environmental streamlining, please visit: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/strmlng/index.asp.

"Successes in Stewardship" is a Federal Highway Administration newsletter highlighting current environmental streamlining practices from around the country. To subscribe, contact Cassandra Allwell at (617) 494-3997 or allwell@volpe.dot.gov.

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