Planning program offers environmental benefits
Interactive and proactive environmental planning is an essential first step during a project’s development. Sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, the Planning and Environmental Linkages program encourages transportation engineers, planners and decision makers to incorporate natural and human environment goals up front and early. The PEL process encourages early analysis and dialogue to better understand project impacts, leading to more informed decisions and ultimately reducing project development timeframes.
Recently, the FHWA released a newsletter listing 10 PEL benefits that project managers can expect to experience when integrating the PEL program with their project. These include:
- Assisting the environmental review process
- Cost and time savings
- Proactive consideration allowing a flexible evaluation of alternatives
- Exporting PEL strategies to the local level
- Holistic and flexible approach
- Enhanced community involvement
- Enhancing grant capacity
- Leveraging other opportunities
- Improved relationships and coordination
A number of state Departments of Transportation have used the PEL process during their own projects and gained useful insight to help define project scopes. Departments can strategically tailor the PEL process to meet their specific needs, like streamlining project delivery or fully engaging the public. We will soon explore how one Department implemented and adapted the PEL process to streamline DOT and consultant coordination in the weeks to come.
About the Author
Lou Raymond, PE, AICP is a transportation engineer and environmental planner with over 20 years of experience in the transportation industry. He is familiar with interagency reviews and agency coordination processes for transportation projects across the Southeast, having been involved in over 20 environmental planning projects over the course of his career.
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