Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Successes in Stewardship
Monthly Newsletter
September 2002

FHWA Resource Center Environmental Conferences:
Talking Face-to-Face to Advance Regional Efforts

Dennis Scovill (Assistant Division Administrator, FHWA New Mexico Division), Pete K. Rahn (Secretary, New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department), and Gene Cleckley (Director of Field Services, FHWA Southern Resource Center) at the 2002 Southern Resource Center Environmental Conference  (SRC image).
Dennis Scovill (Assistant Division Administrator, FHWA New Mexico Division), Pete K. Rahn (Secretary, New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department), and Gene Cleckley (Director of Field Services, FHWA Southern Resource Center) at the 2002 Southern Resource Center Environmental Conference (SRC image).

Environmental and Transportation Professionals Come Together to Discuss Solutions and Improve Relationships

Most of the direct and tangible results associated with environmental streamlining are realized at the project level through practical, on-the-ground streamlining products and solutions. By sharing solutions and integrating efforts, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Division Offices and Resource Centers, state departments of transportation (DOTs), Federal and state resource and regulatory agencies, non-profit organizations, communities, and other stakeholders can advance streamlining through process improvements. Regional and field offices play a critical role in shaping and implementing the national streamlining agenda. FHWA Headquarters supports these regional and field efforts through technical assistance, information sharing, guidance, and best practices.

To discuss relevant issues and identify opportunities for improvement, the FHWA Eastern, Southern, and Western Resource Centers recently brought together representatives from Federal, state, and local transportation, planning, and resource agencies, local governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), transportation and environmental organizations, tribes, and consultants in three regional conferences. The conferences allowed states with similar natural and human environmental issues to discuss regional solutions, such as watershed based mitigation, habitat connectivity, and airshed quality. Participants shared best practices, learned about successful deployments of environmental stewardship principles, and identified means for achieving the FHWA Vital Few goals of environmental streamlining and stewardship. Over the course of the meetings, working relationships were improved and opportunities for process integration were identified.

Benefits of Regional Interagency Conferences

  • Build relationships with colleagues from neighboring states through face-to-face meetings.
  • Exchange ideas and best practices.
  • Solve problems with state and Federal counterparts.
  • Share the latest information.
  • Apply lessons learned quickly.
  • Generate enthusiasm and ideas for innovation.
  • Increase understanding of different perspectives and build trust.

Joint Mid-Atlantic/New England Planning and Environment Caucus

FHWA's Eastern Resource Center hosted the Joint Mid-Atlantic/New England Planning and Environment Caucus from April 30 to May 1, 2002, in Providence, Rhode Island. The Caucus convened nearly 100 transportation, planning, and environmental representatives from state and Federal transportation and resource agencies, MPOs, and transportation organizations. The goals of the Caucus were to explore how transportation planning and the NEPA processes can be better integrated, including what tools and information are needed. Participants also discussed how resource agencies can and currently do contribute to planning and NEPA integration, and how resource agency involvement in the planning process can expedite project development and improve decision making. Identified best practices include:

  • Communicating early and frequently with resource agencies and communities.
  • Developing concurrence points in the planning and NEPA processes.
  • Integrating transportation and land use planning.
  • Using planning level analyses and decisions to inform the NEPA process.
  • Using the planning Purpose and Need statement as the initial NEPA effort.
  • Funding resource agency positions.
  • Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other data to drive processes.

2002 Southern Resource Center Environmental Conference

FHWA's Southern Resource Center and the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department (NMSHTD) hosted the 2002 Southern Resource Center Environmental Conference from June 17 to 19, 2002, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over 200 representatives from Federal and state transportation and resource agencies, county and local governments, tribes, and consultant organizations discussed issues such as environmental oversight during construction, public involvement challenges, performance measures, secondary and cumulative impacts, context sensitive design, and Native American consultation. Identified best practices include:

  • Considering Environmental Justice issues and Community Impact Assessments to identify public involvement needs.
  • Using non-traditional public involvement techniques, such as face-to-face interviews and attendance at local functions.
  • Implementing tracking systems to ensure compliance with environmental and mitigation commitments in environmental documents, construction plans, and regulatory permits.
  • Developing cultural resources displays, archeology site visits, brochures, and curricula for schools and communities.
  • Conducting National Quality Initiative (NQI) Workshops to identify streamlining problems and solutions. NQI is a national effort launched in 1991 by FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and industry to promote a national emphasis on producing quality highway products, systems, and innovations.
  • Using upfront mitigation techniques such as North Carolina's Ecological Enhancement Program and Florida's Key Deer Habitat Conservation Plan.

2002 Western Resource Center Environmental Conference

FHWA's Western Resource Center and the FHWA California Division hosted the "Environmental Streamlining: A Work in Progress" Conference from July 16 to 18, 2002, in San Diego, California. Over 120 representatives from Federal and state transportation and resource agencies, local governments, environmental organizations, and consultant organizations discussed innovative techniques to expedite the environmental process, integrate environmental considerations into the transportation planning process, involve the public, and partner on streamlining initiatives. Identified best practices include:

  • Developing interagency and consultant NEPA and streamlining training and guidance.
  • Implementing Context Sensitive Solutions techniques.
  • Forming interagency partnerships on projects and streamlining initiatives.
  • Improving information management and distribution.
  • Developing quality and environmental performance measures.

FHWA-AASHTO Environmental Stewardship Demonstration Projects

Twenty-two states have registered environmental stewardship demonstrations.
To learn more about these projects, visit:
http://www.itre.ncsu.edu/aashto/stewardship/projects.asp

Contact Information

Joe Werning
FHWA Eastern Resource Center
10 S. Howard St.
Suite 4000
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: (410) 962-0048
Fax: (410) 962-3655
Email: joseph.werning@fhwa.dot.gov
Greg Rawlings
FHWA NM Division
604 W. San Mateo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone: (505) 820-2027
Fax: (505) 820-2040
Email: gregory.rawlings@fhwa.dot.gov
Carol Adkins
FHWA Western Resource Center
555 Zang Street, Rm. 401
Lakewood, CO 80228
Phone: (303) 716-2296
Fax: (303) 969-6727
Email: carol.adkins@fhwa.dot.gov

"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

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

HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000