sues and simplifying the project development process. The science needed to improve early environmental assessment in the planning process is evolving. Models and methods are discussed with examples of some of the more successful approaches. Conceptual analytical approaches are presented and a framework developed. Weaknesses and information gaps needed to bring these concepts to reality are identified. To streamline environmental assessments, three steps must be taken: (1) A checklist addressing potential impacts should be adapted that can be used for rapid assessment. Such a checklist would focus attention on places and issues of greatest concern. (2) A national effort must be made to develop standards for data collection and then to collect appropriate environmental data (both spatial and temporal) across a wide range of scales. These data should be made accessible and available via the internet. (3) A set of models (such as GIS) must be expanded to allow those data to be used in assessments to address scale, feedback, and mixed criteria for environmental protection. Transportation agencies can continue to expand their roles as information brokers and to foster planning forums that integrate environmental planning and assessment across agencies, NGOs, stakeholders, and the public.



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