Environmental review merged with Permitting represents the regulatory process that encompasses the actions required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and various other state federal regulations. Environmental review is generally the last step in the planning process for a transportation improvement, and is followed by final design and construction. When preliminary design is included in the environmental review process, it is often referred to as project development.
Often, the environmental review process is contentious, which can lead to significant project delays and frustration on the part of partners, stakeholders and the general public. TCAPP is built on the principle that collaboration throughout the entire transportation decision making process can streamline environmental review and lead to broadly-accepted, context-sensitive transportation improvements. The Decision Guide provides further information on the ways that collaboration can be incorporated at specific points or key decisions, within the environmental review process, including links to relevant case studies and links between these key decisions and those in the long range planning, programming, and corridor planning phases.
To get a snapshot of each Key Decision, roll over the Decision Guide graphic below. Click on any individual Key Decision to access detailed information including: purpose and anticipated outcomes; partner roles; integration with external planning processes; linkages across phases; questions to assist decision makers; and data, tools, technologies that support the decision.
Key Decisions that are grayed-out have no specific relevance to the individual application or topic area but are still accessible from this graphic.
The scoping key decision involves a broad assessment of the data, decisions, and relationships to consider, acquire, or make throughout the entire long range transportation plan (LRTP) process.
At this key decision, the community's values, whether stated as a vision and goals or simply agreed upon by the stakeholders for the planning area, are used to guide the transportation-specific vision and goals.
At this key decision the evaluation criteria, methodology and performance measures are approved that will allow decision-makers to compare scenarios to the vision and goals and to one another.
The approved list of specific corridors, roads and areas which are deficient identified at this key decision serves as a basis for problems and opportunities addressed in both the corridor planning and environmental review processes.
At this key decision information from the Programming / Fiscal Constraint Phase is introduced into the LRTP decision making process.
Strategies are developed to address the deficiencies identified in LRP-4. A strategy is a specific tactic or policy employed or recommended by an organization.
Scenarios are based on approved strategies and are compared using the evaluation criteria, methodology and performance measures.
At this key decision, a preferred plan scenario is adopted for inclusion in the Draft LRTP.
Air Quality conformity analysis is done within the air quality process in order to validate that the preferred scenario meets current conformity requirements.
At this key decision a final plan is adopted by the MPO board.
This is a legally required decision consisting of the federal approval of conformity of the LRTP.
This key decision establishes the revenue basis for both the fiscal constraint of the long range plan as well as the funding sources for the TIP.
This key decision establishes a consistent methodology for estimating project costs for both the long range transportation plan and the TIP.
This key decision establishes the list of projects drawn from the long range plan or corridor planning process that will be considered for funding in the TIP.
At this key decision, the approved project list is prioritized using the methodology previously developed.
At this key decision project priorities are compared to available funding within program restrictions to select those projects to be included in the TIP.
At this key decision, the MPO adopts the TIP. Before the MPO can do this, comments on the draft TIP must be addressed and a final TIP must be produced.
The Governor or designee should ensure that the TIP meets other state and federal requirements so that the TIP can be incorporated into the STIP and be in agreement with the state document.
At this key decision the draft STIP is developed to release for public comment.
In order to meet federal requirements, the STIP must meet conformity and fiscal constraint, where required.
This is a crucial first step of corridor planning.
The full range of deficiencies and opportunities within a corridor are defined at this key decision.
At this key decision a broad range of transportation, community, and environmental goals are considered which are specific to the corridor.
In order to provide a clear linkage to the environmental review process, this key decision defines the acceptable level of detail for the corridor study analysis.
At this key decision, evaluation criteria, methodology and performance measures are approved that will allow decision-makers to compare solutions that address the corridor's opportunities and problems and are consistent with the approved corridor goals.
A range of approved solution sets for the corridor results from this key decision.
At this key decision, a preferred solution set is adopted for inclusion in the Corridor Plan.
At this key decision priorities for implementation of the individual solutions are established.
Individual projects within the adopted preferred solution set are ranked in order to identify the appropriate sequencing for implementation.
Consensus is reached on the data, decisions and relationships that need to be considered, acquired or made throughout environmental review and permitting. The scope is informed by the adopted plans and current information from plans in process. Relationships with planning partners are formed.
This key decision is required to satisfy the legal requirement of publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to inform partners and the public of the commencement of the environmental review phase.
Document the agreed to purpose and need for both NEPA and the Section 404 permitting process. Integration with land use partners and stakeholder input are important at this step, to substantiate and refine the project purpose and need. There is a strong relationship between this key decision and the planning processes.
Consensus on an initial geographic area of study (the area within which any alternatives will fall) is reached. The study area is closely linked to the purpose and need and is informed by transportation and other planning processes.
Evaluation criteria, methods and measures are used to compare how alternatives meet the purpose and need. The criteria used in long range and corridor planning as well as land use, ecological planning and capital improvement data are considered.
A full range of possible project alternatives to meet the purpose and need is identified. Information about both selected and eliminated scenarios and solution sets from long range transportation planning and corridor planning inform the range of alternatives approved at this step.
This shared step between the NEPA and permitting processes involves the approval of the alternatives that are suggested to be carried forward. There is essential information created in long range planning and corridor planning that informs this decision.
This is a formal approval point at which the Draft EIS with conceptual mitigation is approved and circulated for public review. Land use partners indicate their support of any land use policy changes that would be required to implement the recommendations in the Draft EIS.
This key decision is required to satisfy the regulatory requirement for Section 404 permitting that the public receive notice of a permit application.
Decision makers approve a preferred project alternative/LEDPA using input from stakeholders, planning partners, and detailed information about potential impacts, and validate that the preferred alternative is consistent with the LRTP and TIP/STIP.
This decision is a required procedural step in the Section 404 permitting process. At this step, a final determination of jurisdictional waters of the United States in the project area is made.
Following selection of the preferred alternative/LEDPA, partners reach consensus on additional avoidance and minimization measures not included in the preliminary design.
A final EIS is approved that meets all legal requirements and addresses comments received on the Draft EIS.
At this step in the environmental review phase, the Record of Decision is issued.
At this final step in the environmental review phase, the final permit decision is rendered.