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88 assessments applicable at the planning and project develop- GPS receivers, laser range finders, and digital cameras can ment levels. be linked to data collection tools and used to import data GIS is particularly useful for visualizing the impacts of directly into a database. For example, a GPS receiver can be various alternatives on multiple environmental resources used to map exact coordinates of a wetland, plant commu- (e.g., wetlands and archeological resources). These types of nity, or some other resource; a laser range finder can be used analyses can be conducted at the plan, program, or project to measure the exact distance between two points and auto- levels of decision making. matically upload the information into correct database fields; and a digital camera can be used to collect digital data of resources and then the data can be uploaded into a database. EMERGING ANALYSIS AND DATA Collaborative planning and design tools refer to a combi- COLLECTION TECHNOLOGIES nation of computer-aided design and engineering and other One of the most comprehensive research efforts on data GIS tools. These tools allow stakeholders to collaborate in a and technologies for incorporating environmental factors in workshop setting to refine a project design or resolve specific transportation decision making was recently completed as design/construction related issues. Multiple sets of data relat- NCHRP Project 25-22: Technologies to Improve Consid- ing to such things as problem identification (accident sites, eration of Environmental Concerns in Transportation congested areas, geometric deficiencies, etc.), existing con- Decisions. The 21 technologies highlighted by this research ditions (facility location, soil types, etc.), constraints and project were categorized into five broad headings as follows: impacts (historic resources, parks, wetlands, etc.) and various other data are displayed on large screens in a group setting 1. Geospatial database technologies, allowing stakeholders to engage in collaborative alternatives 2. Remote sensing technologies, analysis at the planning or project level. 3. Transportation impact modeling technologies, Document and process management tools include elec- 4. Decision science technologies, and tronic reporting; web GIS; and multimedia and administra- 5. Visualization/simulation technologies. tive record, document, and outcome tracking software. A multimedia administrative record is a permanent and easy- to-navigate electronic file that provides a record of the deci- Geospatial Database Technologies sion process and includes all official documents necessary to explain and record important decisions. These tools make Geospatial database technologies refer broadly to GIS use of electronic publishing and database features to and interactive databases, including Internet- and intranet- communicate project information through electronic and enabled technologies. These technologies provide structured online documents; record key steps in the project develop- and systematic tools for collecting, storing, analyzing, and ment process; and track project outcomes, mitigation, and disseminating information about spatially defined areas as completion of required documents. Examples of applications they effect, or are affected by, transportation activities. While include virtual environmental assessments and environmen- there are numerous potential applications of these tools, the tal impact statements as well as other planning documents research evaluated a representative sample of those that designed as easy-to-use multimedia products that are visu- could be readily implemented with existing hardware and ally interesting, engaging, and informative. software, including electronic field data collection technolo- Facility information management systems (FIMS) are a gies, collaborative planning and design tools, documenting comprehensive transportation and environmental inventory and processing management tools, and facility information containing the entire set of environmental (e.g., thematic) management systems. data that comprise, support, effect, or are impacted by trans- Electronic field data collection technologies are portable portation systems. In addition to transportation infrastructure computer devices (e.g., laptops, palmtops, or handheld (e.g., travelways, pavements, bridges, and terminals), the devices) used to collect and compile electronic inventories of inventory data includes travel and commodity movements as geographic feature data such as wildlife habitats, wetlands, well as other natural and cultural feature information neces- land use, historic sites, and physical features. They are capa- sary to the transportation facilities' life-cycle functions. The ble of displaying image, vector, and tabular data. They allow data contained in FIMS ranges from historical to current to user-defined updates to map layers and linked attributes. The near real-time conditions. FIMS can be thought of as a one- high-end products support real time, full duplex, wireless stop data warehouse containing or providing access to all connections to GIS databases and enable immediate information used throughout the planning, project develop- synchronization of environmental data into the centralized ment, and systems operations phases. In addition to contain- database, eliminating data integrity and resource issues asso- ing all in-house transportation and environmental feature ciated with manual field processes. data, FIMS must also provide access to data warehouses con- The low-end products require data to be transferred into taining natural, constructed, and other social environmental the database after field activity. Data import software such as data maintained by other agencies.
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89 Remote Sensing ports, FHA's Traffic Noise Model used for roadway noise prediction, and the Federal Transit Administration's Remote sensing provides digital information on land and FTANOISE model, a spreadsheet program for the assessment earth features that can be combined with spectral analysis of rail noise exposure based on various train and track types. and GIS modeling to create a powerful screening tool for The NCHRP 25-22 report discussed three emerging tech- transportation corridor or regional evaluation. Remote sens- niques for impact modeling. These are gap analysis, inte- ing can quickly and cost-effectively categorize and quantify grated modeling, and expert systems. land cover types (wetlands, crop lands, forested lands, etc.). Gap analysis organizes baseline data on existing features When combined with topographic, environmental constraint, according to user specifications, but provides no interpretation. geological, and planimetric information, this data also can be Gap analysis is the use of GIS in a structured way to determine used for quantitative description and evaluation of plan or the nature and location of potential impacts on the built, natural, project alternatives. Combining remote sensing and GIS or social environment. Most commonly, the user specifies capabilities offers the ability to present plan or project sce- buffers around sensitive natural resources or other features as a narios in a three-dimensional environment, providing deci- first step in identifying constraints related to a given project. sion makers and the public with a clear picture of potential Gap analysis is a screening tool that precedes quantitative and impacts. Examples of remote sensing technologies discussed other analyses through the use of models and other tools. Exam- in the NCHRP 25-22 report include (1) terrestrial and ples of potential uses and scales range from local or regional airborne lidar, (2) digital aerial photography and photogram- land-use analysis to statewide natural resources analysis. metry, (3) radar imaging and mapping and ground- Integrated modeling (where interactions among impact areas penetrating radar; and (4) multispectral and hyper-spectral are modeled) could include some impact areas and interactions satellite and airborne imaging. (e.g., land use and water quality, land use and air quality, vari- ous plant and wildlife species). Integrated models generate high-level predictive model output using single, integrated, or Transportation Impact Modeling multiple model systems. Integrated models recognize the inter- Tools/Technologies dependence of resources and that modeling each impact inde- pendently may not accurately represent the natural ecology of Transportation impact modeling tools/technologies refer the relationships among the different resources. to the numerous models used to evaluate potential environ- Although integrated models could be developed and used mental effects of transportation projects such as air quality, for some impact areas, some of the most visible examples are noise, water quality, and biological resources. Illustrative those being used to analyze the interaction between changes in models include biological resource models such as Wetland transportation infrastructure and changes in land use. Exam- Environmental Tools (WET) for planning and ranking of ples include land-use forecasting models that incorporate wetland areas and Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) for transportation system impacts (e.g., EPA's INDEXEPA); habitat-based impact assessment and resource management transportation models such as TRANSIMS that incorporate in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Examples of land-use impacts; and multimodal systems that seek to address water resources models include the Stormwater Management both topics and others (e.g., econometrics) in a single model Model (SWMM), a computer simulation model for the or models (e.g., Metroscope or Urbanism). Multimodal sys- analysis of quality and quantity problems with urban runoff; tems for transportation and land-use attempt to address trans- the Bridge Scour Data Management System (BSDMS); and portation and land-use interactions in a single comprehensive the Cornell Mixing Zone Expert System known as model or through multiple models used as an iterative system. CORMIX, a model used for the analysis, prediction, and In addition to connecting traditional land-use and trans- design of aqueous toxic or conventional pollutant discharge portation models, tools in this category also integrate into diverse water bodies. economic considerations such as land prices and other real Air quality models include the U.S. Environmental Pro- estate conditions. These models take the innovations of the tection Agency (EPA) MOBILE models that calculate gram individual models and combine them into even more com- per vehicle-mile emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), oxides prehensive representations of reality. of nitrogen (Nox), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) Expert systems generally consist of a set of rules and user- on a vehicle fleet basis. Another model, CAL3QHC, uses supplied data that interact through an inference engine, an MOBILE outputs to calculate emission concentrations at expert, or knowledge-based system able to derive or deduce specific locations and other state-specific models that have new facts or data from existing facts and conditions. Expert the same function as the EPA models but include stricter systems have become widely available, allowing users to vehicle emission control factors. define the database and rule base without using artificial Noise impact models include the Integrated Noise Model, intelligence programming languages. Less often, individual the approved Federal Aviation Administration noise model organizations will create their own expert systems for used to calculate noise exposure in the vicinity of civilian air- specific purposes.
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90 Decision Science Technologies are the next likely steps in the evolution of this technology. Time-based visual simulation is not as advanced as 3-D sim- Decision analysis tools can help transportation agency staff ulation and, consequently, it is less common. define problems, manage expectations, identify an appropri- Another important completed research effort on environ- ate range of alternatives, clarify information needs, identify mental information management was NCHRP Project 25-23: and quantify uncertainties and their impacts on a decision, Environmental Information Management and Decision Sup- avoid decision traps in evaluating alternatives, and ensure port System for Transportation (95). The project was respond- meaningful involvement of stakeholders. The application of ing to the need of state DOTs and MPOs to manage environ- decision science methodologies is advantageous for technical mental information in support of the decision-making process. analysis as well as public outreach processes and generally The resulting guidebook develops the concept and implemen- assists in creating a credible and auditable decision process. tation approach for an EIM&DSS that complies with ISO Examples of these technologies include multiple-attribute 14001 and has multiple applications and uses within an agency. utility analysis, prioritization, risk analysis, and optimization. The environmental information management and decision Multiple-attribute utility analysis methods are used to eval- support system (EIM&DSS) is designed to provide decision uate and select alternatives based upon multiple attributes or makers involved with the planning, programming, project criteria. This approach allows for the management of multiple development, operations, and maintenance of any mode of objectives, the quantification of objectives, and the illustration transportation with information and analytical capabilities. of trade-offs. This approach is typically applied when multiple Already existing decision support systems within state DOTs stakeholders concerned about multiple issues are required to and MPOs may be considered functional building blocks of select one alternative. The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council an EIM&DSS and could interface with the DSS. For exam- of Governments (TMACOG), as described in Chapter 3, uses ple, the standard four-step transportation model (rail, air, bus, a formal application of a multiple-attribute framework for and waterborne traffic simulation models; management sys- selecting among various plan alternatives (or project clusters). tems; noise, water pollution, land use, contaminant fate, and Prioritization methods rank competing alternatives based transport impact models; and economic development mod- upon objective criteria and specified constraints. This els) could each be part of a broader environmental manage- method is primarily used to prioritize multiple activities or ment system. Washington State DOT has begun to develop projects and to illustrate explicitly that the maximum benefit an ISO-compliant environmental management system. is being derived from the investment. Some active research projects sponsored by the National Risk analysis is an approach designed to determine how Cooperative Highway Research Program are looking at risk contributes to decision success and how to manage that developing analysis tools/technologies for considering envi- risk. An example of an application of this technology is ronmental factors in transportation systems planning. The deciding when to proceed with a project to minimize the cost, results of these research activities could provide important risk, and uncertainty related to a parallel project. analysis capability to the consideration of environmental fac- Optimization methods involve the development of an opti- tors in transportation planning. Examples of these projects mal system solution based on the comparison of multiple are discussed below. variables. This technology may be applied to determine traf- fic-timing elements at a complex intersection. · Predicting Short-Term and Long-Term Air Quality Effects of Traffic-Flow Improvement Projects (NCHRP Project 25-21)--The objective of this research is to develop and Visualization/Simulation Technologies demonstrate, in case study applications, a methodology to predict the short-term and long-term effects of corridor Computer-based simulation creates a 3-D, motion-based level, traffic-flow improvement projects on CO, VOCs, visual environment. This 3-D environment relies on three spa- NOx, and particulate emissions (PM). The methodology tial axes (corresponding to the dimensions of length, height, will evaluate the magnitude, scale (such as regionwide, and width) to create a spatial scene. The image is visually cre- corridor, or local), and duration of the effects for various ated in a computer graphic format, including the capability of representative urbanized areas. incorporating motion as part of the scene generation. Other · Effective Methods for Environmental Justice Assessment senses (particularly sound) are beginning to be synchronized (NCHRP Project 8-41) --The objective of this research to such simulations. Four-dimensional simulation adds the is to identify and develop processes, procedures, and variable of time to 3-D simulation. The time variable permits techniques for integrating environmental justice consid- heuristic examination of spatial change. Real-time analysis erations in transportation systems planning and decision provides insights for traffic management, safety analysis, making at the statewide, regional, and metropolitan lev- environmental change, construction management, and master els. The research will improve the analytical capabilities planning (e.g., short range versus long range). Applications of states, MPOs, and their planning partners. The research for design of transportation alignments in a "virtual reality" will build on existing community-impact assessment setting incorporating a full set of environmental constraints methods and will focus largely on the adaptation and