Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) C19 Product:  Expediting Project Delivery

The second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) is a national partnership among the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Transportation Research Board, to conduct research and deploy products that help the transportation community improve the Nation’s highway system. One such product is the Solution for Expediting Project Delivery.
Transportation agencies are being challenged to deliver projects with greater efficiency and speed at the same time that funding and staffing are decreasing and transportation needs are growing. Expediting Project Delivery (C19) is a second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Capacity solution for accelerating planning and environmental review of transportation projects. This product identifies 24 strategies for addressing or avoiding 16 common constraints to expedite project delivery. These strategies represent innovative approaches to improve transportation decision making that result in better projects and environmental outcomes. Applying these proven strategies also saves time by allowing agencies to anticipate and reduce project delays.

save lives

Save Lives

Minimizing delays during all phases of project development ensures faster delivery of roadway safety infrastructure improvements.

divider save money

Save Money

Predicting and preventing possible delays leads to expedited, cost-efficient project development and delivery.

divider save time

Save Time

Predicting and addressing possible issues early in the planning and project delivery process, reduces the occurrence of unforeseen delays throughout the project.

plus sign Strategies to Accelerate Project Delivery
minus sign Strategies to Accelerate Project Delivery

The Transportation Research Board Report S2-C19-RR-1, “Expedited Planning and Environmental Review of Highway Projects” identifies and describes 24 strategies that transportation agencies can use to address common constraints on project delivery. The report categorizes each strategy by a general group and lists the applicable project development implementation phase.

Click on the expand button to learn more about each strategy.

plus sign 1. Change-control practices
minus sign 1. Change-control practices

Definition: Change-control practices attempt to minimize the frequency and severity of changes to projects’ design following preliminary design and environmental documentation.

Strategy Group: Decision making

Phase: Final design

Benefits: Enhanced ability to honor delivery commitments; lower risk; established base for performance measures; enhanced ability to reduce rework and monitor impacts of rework; clearer direction for project development process; and more accurate workload estimating.

Related FHWA Every Day Counts Resource: Design-Build

plus sign 2. Consolidated decision council
minus sign 2. Consolidated decision council

Definition: A consolidated decision council can create a clear organization, structure, and process for efficient decision making. Councils identify the ability and scope of decision making explicitly and allow for issues or questions to be on the agenda, considered, and decided on effectively and efficiently.

Strategy Group: Decision making

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Improve internal communication, speed decision making, maintain agreements, and improve opportunities for making policy decisions. A clear, predictable, and efficient process for making informed and inclusive decisions can build transparency and trust among participants.

Related Toolkit Resource: The NEPA/Section 404 Permit Merger

plus sign 3. Context-sensitive design and solutions
minus sign 3. Context-sensitive design and solutions

Definition: CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintain safety and mobility.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Show agency’s willingness to listen and respond to a community’s interests, foster support for other projects in the community’s area, and reduce the risk of unanticipated permitting and mitigation costs and delay.

Related FHWA INVEST Resource: PD-03 Context Sensitive Project Development

plus sign 4. Coordinated and responsive agency involvement
minus sign 4. Coordinated and responsive agency involvement

Definition: Involving resource agencies early in a project, establishing clear and direct communications, promoting a culture of collaboration and understanding, clearly conveying project needs, and implementing the project in responsive ways can accelerate project delivery.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Improve relationships among agencies, which can benefit collaboration on other projects or programs.

Related FHWA and TRB SHRP-2 Resource: TCAPP and Integrated Ecological Framework Pilot Projects: Synthesis of Lessons Learned

plus sign 5. Dispute-resolution process
minus sign 5. Dispute-resolution process

Definition: Having a clear process and agreement for resolving disputes can help agencies to avoid an impasse, recognize when they are at an impasse, and help to expedite the elevation and resolution of an impasse if and when it cannot be readily resolved at a staff level.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Improve relationships among agencies, which can benefit collaboration on other projects or programs.

Related Toolkit Resource: Conflict Resolution

plus sign 6. Department of Transportation-funded resource agency liaisons
minus sign 6. Department of Transportation-funded resource agency liaisons

Definition: state DOTs have established partnerships with resource agencies and nongovernmental organizations, funding positions at these entities to perform environmental analysis and expedite project review.

Strategy Group: Commitments, external coordination, and communication

Phase: Primarily NEPA, final design

Benefits: Increased communication and dialogue among agencies, better link between planning and environmental reviews, conflict resolution between agencies, improved permitting processes, and better relationships between agencies.

Related Toolkit Resource: Transportation Liaison Community of Practice

plus sign 7. Early commitment to construction funding
minus sign 7. Early commitment to construction funding

Definition: Secure construction funding early in the project development process (e.g., during the planning or NEPA phases) in order to demonstrate the level of commitment and high priority of the project or program.

Strategy Group: Commitments

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Expediting benefits to project staffing, permitting, public input, design, and decision making.

Related FHWA INVEST Resource: SP-12 Financial Sustainability

plus sign 8. Expedited internal review and decision making
minus sign 8. Expedited internal review and decision making

Definition: Establishes and implements a process for efficient and timely internal reviews and decision making. Obtaining formal commitments from each division and department to make decisions efficiently and quickly will help to establish this strategy as an accepted routine.

Strategy Group: Internal communication and organization, decision making

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design

Benefits: Overcome agency opposition and concern regarding projects by clearly communicating the benefits of a change and emphasizing the importance of the change through leadership involvement.

plus sign 9. Facilitation to align expectations up front
minus sign 9. Facilitation to align expectations up front

Definition: Aligning expectations from agencies and stakeholders early in the planning or NEPA process (during scoping) sets a foundation for expediting many aspects of project delivery. Facilitators can lead structured decisions among agencies, reduce conflicts of interest, identify goals and constraints, and align agencies expectations from the project’s beginning.

Strategy Group: Decision making, external coordination, and communication

Phase: Planning, early NEPA

Benefits: Facilitation can create team building, improve communication, align interests–and greater willingness and readiness to act on aligned interests–and moving projects forward.

plus sign 10. Highly responsive public engagement
minus sign 10. Highly responsive public engagement

Definition: Effective involvement anticipates and provides direct ways for participants to contribute to decisions and for them to see the outcome and how it was influenced by their input, thereby reinforcing the value of their participation and the responsiveness of the sponsor agency or agencies. Developing a process that is explicit about how input will be used is necessary for public participants to perceive agencies as credible, effective, and worthy of their time.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA

Benefits: Meaningful engagement reduces the chance that stakeholders will cause delay later on by raising new issues or concerns. It can also generate good will and trust on the current project and future projects.

plus sign 11. Incentive payments to expedite relocations
minus sign 11. Incentive payments to expedite relocations

Definition: Property acquisition and the relocation of residents or businesses are often on the critical path to beginning construction, and relocation processes can delay construction. Payments made in addition to relocation assistance benefits can provide an incentive for tenants or property owners to complete their move quickly.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Final design

Benefits: Carefully publicized relocation incentive payment programs can defuse mistrust and antagonism from both the public and the press concerning the potentially disruptive nature of transportation projects and can contribute to on-going public good will for future transportation projects.

Related FHWA Every Day Counts Resource: Flexibilities in ROW

plus sign 12. Media relations manager
minus sign 12. Media relations manager

Definition: Employs a project-level staff person with significant career experience in journalism to effectively manage how the project communicates with the media and avoid some of the difficulties transportation agencies sometimes encounter when their projects are misrepresented or misunderstood by the press.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Any or all phases, though particularly COR and ENV

Benefits: Reduces the likelihood of poor media coverage, encourages a more productive public dialogue about a project, makes media more inclined to provide constructive insight about community resources, interests, and concerns that can ultimately allow for better design and evaluation of alternatives.

plus sign 13. Performance standards
minus sign 13. Performance standards

Definition: An outcome-based performance standard is a term or condition inserted into a permit or approval that describes a specific measurable outcome from a project activity. Successful performance standard development requires two key components: the performance standard outcome must be clearly measurable through an agreed-on method, and no performance standard should be agreed on without review by appropriate representatives from DOT design, construction, and maintenance staff.

Strategy Group: Analysis, external coordination, and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA, permitting

Benefits: Improved project communication, better relationships with regulators, and improved understanding between engineering and environmental staffs.

Related FHWA INVEST Resource: PD-08 Stormwater

Related FHWA and TRB SHRP-2 Resource: Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making

plus sign 14. Planning and environmental linkages
minus sign 14. Planning and environmental linkages

Definition: Planning studies often produce valuable data, analysis, and decisions that can be leveraged during the NEPA process to reduce the time and effort required to develop a range of alternatives, evaluate alternatives, and produce environmental documentation.

Strategy Group: Decision making

Phase: Planning, NEPA

Benefits: Avoiding redoing work or revisiting decisions can make the progression through planning and NEPA appear more responsive and efficient to the public and stakeholder groups as they are not asked to weigh in twice on the same issues.

Related Toolkit Resource: Planning and Environment Linkages

Related FHWA INVEST Resource: SP-17 Linking Planning and NEPA

plus sign 15. Planning-level environmental screening criteria
minus sign 15. Planning-level environmental screening criteria

Definition: Early consultation on resources and mitigation provides an opportunity to identify criteria and develop tools and understandings for project delivery. By developing statewide and/or regional data, transportation agencies can quickly evaluate and compare proposed projects and programs, identify potential environmental hurdles, and make better-informed decisions about how to develop future projects.

Strategy Group: Analysis

Phase: Planning

Benefits: Establishing screening criteria can make planning studies more meaningful for the DOT or MPO, resource agencies, stakeholder groups, and the general public. Evaluating environmental factors that interest these groups can make their members more willing to engage in planning studies, which often struggle to maintain active participation.

Related FHWA INVEST Resources: SP-01 Integrated Planning: Economic Development and Land Use, SP-02 Integrated Planning: Natural Environment, SP-03 Integrated Planning: Social, SP-13 Analysis Methods

plus sign 16. Programmatic agreement for Section 106
minus sign 16. Programmatic agreement for Section 106

Definition: Develop a programmatic agreement among the applicable federal lead agency (e.g., FHWA), the SHPO, the state DOT, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). the programmatic agreement can delegate some authority to the state DOT to conduct Section 106 reviews on behalf of FHWA. It can also identify certain classes of projects or types of activities that do not need to go through the traditional individual consultation process with SHPO.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication, and analysis

Phase: Planning, NEPA (the programmatic instrument must be developed before the NEPA phase, and often before the planning phase)

Benefits: Agencies to focus their time and resources on the projects most likely to affect Section 106 resources. Additionally, consultation on projects that may affect Section 106 resources can be improved with a programmatic agreement that specifies consultation approaches, analytical techniques, and data sources.

Related Toolkit Resource: Section 4(f)

Related Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Resource: FHWA Statewide Programmatic Agreements

plus sign 17. Programmatic or batched permitting
minus sign 17. Programmatic or batched permitting

Definition: Develop a single permit that can cover multiple, separate actions. Two basic approaches include (a) a batched permit or approval, which typically covers a set of specific actions that are identified in advance of the permit; and (b) a programmatic permit, which typically covers a collection of future actions that may or may not be specifically identified in advance of the permit.

Strategy Group: Analysis

Phase: Planning, NEPA, design (the programmatic instrument must be developed before the NEPA phase, and probably before the planning phase)

Benefits: Reduces permitting costs by reducing redundant efforts, making permitting individual projects more efficient, and reducing the timeline to permit projects.

Related Toolkit Resource: NEPA Documentation: FHWA Memorandum–Categorical Exclusion (CE) Documentation and Approval

plus sign 18. Real-time collaborative interagency reviews
minus sign 18. Real-time collaborative interagency reviews

Definition: Drafting and revising collaboratively can involve an iterative drafting process in which sections of the document are sent off separately for review instead of waiting for the entire document to be completed. The review and revision process can be further streamlined if the reviews by the multiple agencies involved are done concurrently.

Strategy Group: External coordination and communication

Phase: Primarily NEPA, though sometimes applicable for preparing planning documents

Benefits: Reduce the time spent working through a sequential review–revise process, and reconcile conflicting comments from different reviewers at the same time.

plus sign 19. Regional environmental analysis framework
minus sign 19. Regional environmental analysis framework

Definition: A regional environmental analysis framework establishes a standardized approach for evaluating impacts to resource types and is especially useful at streamlining cumulative impact analyses and project-related mitigation agreements. This approach typically identifies common data formats, analytical techniques, issues specific to certain resource types, important past actions, and any other considerations that may help to standardize impact assessments and facilitate a uniform approach for evaluating cumulative effects.

Strategy Group: Analysis

Phase: Planning, NEPA (but the regional environmental analysis framework typically needs to be developed well before the NEPA phase)

Benefits: As it is implemented, it can become progressively more useful because past actions implementing the same techniques and data provide a foundation that is easily integrated into future projects’ assessments of cumulative effects on resources.

Related FHWA INVEST Resources: PD-07 Habitat Restoration, PD-09 Ecological Connectivity

plus sign 20. Risk management
minus sign 20. Risk management

Definition: Risk management is the practice of actively dealing with project risk, including planning for risk, assessing risk, developing risk-response strategies, and monitoring risk throughout the project life cycle. It is more effective when started near the beginning of any process.

Strategy Group: All groups

Phase: All phases

Benefits: Contributes to predictability, which benefits relationships with other agencies, local jurisdictions, and other stakeholders, and avoids conflicts and risks, which builds trust among a project team and with stakeholders.

plus sign 21. Strategic oversight and readiness assessment
minus sign 21. Strategic oversight and readiness assessment

Definition: Developing interagency agreements entails assessing the capacity of each agency to provide resources and identifying if any additional resources are needed. These agreements provide a method for installing a common system of protocols and establishing a common oversight function for the interagency project or program that provides traditional project or program management functions. Environmental analysis, documentation, and review can be streamlined via these interagency agreements or through ancillary agreements or memoranda of understanding between the agencies.

Strategy Group: Decision making

Phase: Planning, NEPA

Benefits: Improves long-term interagency relationships and prevents existing relationships from deteriorating because of frustration over wait times and unanticipated demands.

plus sign 22. Team co-location
minus sign 22. Team co-location

Definition: When the project’s sponsor agency, NEPA lead, and key technical staff are just down the hall from each other, internal communication and coordination can happen faster. With a co-located team, meetings are easier to arrange, travel time became a nonfactor, and spontaneous working sessions became frequent. Internal reviews of documents can be performed and shared quickly with reviewing agencies.

Strategy Group: Internal communication and organization, decision making

Phase: All phases, though less applicable to planning

Benefits: Increases the commitment and focus of team members on the project; allows for a level of interaction not otherwise possible in projects with large, diverse teams; enhances sense of teamwork among the various agencies and firms working on the project; provides a natural forum for identifying, debating, and resolving conflicts; contributes to a can-do, problem-solving environment.

plus sign 23. Tiered National Environmental Policy process
minus sign 23. Tiered National Environmental Policy process

Definition: A tiered NEPA process allows agencies to perform planning studies under NEPA via a Tier 1 EA or EIS. This first-tier study typically looks at a large problem or series of related problems programmatically, with the intent that project-level studies will follow in the second tier, either as a direct continuation of the first-tier study or as multiple separate projects reliant on the analyses and findings from the first tier. By initiating NEPA at the planning phase, the state or local transportation agency will ensure more formal engagement by the federal lead agency than would otherwise occur during a planning study. The tiered NEPA process produces a preliminary ROD (a formally documented interim decision) at the conclusion of the first tier.

Strategy Group: Analysis

Phase: COR, ENV

Benefits: Perhaps the most important benefit is gaining greater involvement from the federal lead agency and resource agencies in the planning phase, and concluding it with a ROD, which can ensure the work is more easily and effectively leveraged during subsequent second-tier studies. A tiered NEPA process also helps a project garner involvement from state and federal resource agencies that are often not involved until NEPA is initiated, and reduces project timelines and costs.

plus sign 24. Up-front environmental commitments
minus sign 24. Up-front environmental commitments

Definition: Environmental commitments are agreements made by DOTs to invest in environmental enhancements in a project. They should be made early, either during the planning process for selecting candidate project design and environmental evaluation, or during the early phases of NEPA or design. The magnitude of commitments or level of performance standards must be sufficient to address stakeholder and agency concerns and avoid the impression that the DOT is shirking requirements for the impact avoidance and minimization that would otherwise result from prolonged environmental analysis and debate.

Strategy Group: Decision making, external coordination and communication

Phase: Planning, NEPA

Benefits: Can streamline the environmental process by changing conversations to a positive track and saving participants from having to prove certain impacts and the necessity of mitigation; can avoid ongoing and protracted requests for further analysis of impacts or having to continually change the design of and commitments to mitigation measures; can help to bypass sticking points with resource agencies and stakeholder groups; can provide beneficial publicity and press coverage from groups that might otherwise be critical of the project.

plus sign Case Studies
minus sign Case Studies

The C19 Case Studies demonstrate how SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program (IAP) awardees utilized the Expediting Project Delivery strategies to improve project delivery processes in their organizations. The Case Studies detail how the agency implemented the Expediting Project Delivery strategies, challenges to implementation, benefits, lessons learned, and next steps for the agency.

View the Case Studies.


For more information, please contact  Damaris Santiago at 202-366-2034.

 
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