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Planning and Environment Research and Resources

Date:
July 27, 2021
Topics:
Environment, News, News Homepage, Research, Resources
Words planning and environment linkages with image of two chain links

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides a strong foundation of resources for transportation practitioners researching or seeking technical assistance on Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL). In addition to the FHWA website covered in an earlier RuralTransportation.org post, research institutions and technical assistance centers offer resources, state of the practice data and case studies. This post takes a look at two national resources for environment-related transportation issues: the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence.

Transportation Research Board Snap Searches

TRB offers Snap Searches that are information sheets on a variety of transportation topics including Environmental Process, Environment and Sustainability (includes wildlife considerations), and Natural Resources.  Each Snap Search lists research, recent publications, current and upcoming projects, committees and panels, and upcoming events. Research is categorized by the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), and Special Reports. Here are a few Snap Search highlights:     

Environmental Process: A current research project scheduled for August 2021 completion is NCHRP 10-99: Guidebook for Implementing Constructability Across the Entire Project Development Process: NEPA to Final Design.  

Environment and Sustainability: Current research underway includes NCHRP 20-06/Topic 25-07 Review of Statutory and Case Law on Planning and Environmental Linkages. The research aims to produce a digest that answers the questions:

  • What is the litigation history behind judicial review of purpose and need statements and PEL?
  • How are the various approaches to PEL different from each other and what deference do courts provide for each?
  • What legal risks are associated with each approach?

Natural Resources: Research underway includes NCHRP 08-124 Quantifying the Impacts of Corridor Management which will address building a framework that incorporates the range of measures required to evaluate impacts of corridor management, will define what constitutes corridor management, and identify factors that need to be considered to develop an analytical methodology for impact measurement.

Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO

The AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence was developed in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration. The Center provides technical assistance, partnership-building, training, and resources with a website covering 20 different environmental topics including the NEPA process, air quality, and cultural resources.

In addition to a website, the Center offers a peer exchange, communities of practice, handbooks, and webinars, as well as a library with environment and transportation case law. The Center also connects with Transportation Research Board research and committees through NCHRP Project 25-25. This quick-response research program, which ran through 2020, examined analytical methods, decision-support tools, procedures, and techniques employed by environmental practitioners in environmental streamlining, environmental stewardship, transportation planning, program delivery, and project development. Copies of reports developed under NCHRP 25-25 are available at both the TRB website and at the Center for Environmental Excellence website.