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38 C H A P T E R 5 Environmental Factors Background Literature environmental stewardship and encourage innovative ways to streamline the transportation delivery process. It maintains a Prior to the 1970s, the environmental effects of transporta- comprehensive web site to serve these purposes (AASHTO tion projects were investigated but not heavily weighted in Center for Environmental Excellence, 2007). decision making. Many of these negative impacts went unmit- The literature reflects a convergence of trends toward both igated due to a lack of universal governing policy or com- environmental stewardship and performance-based planning munity awareness and understanding regarding the gravity (Cambridge Systematics, Inc., forthcoming; Venner, 2003; TERM of these harmful environmental effects. The 1969 National 2001, 2007). Several related resources are organized under Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) advanced the state of the the rubric of sustainability (Sustainable Development Strategy, practice by requiring environmental review of all federal actions, including transportation improvements. As these 2007-2009, 2006; CST, 2002; Litman, 2006). Transportation reviews began to uncover "fatal flaws," major environmental agencies such as the Washington State Department of Trans- issues that threatened environment health and costly delays portation (WSDOT) and Transit New Zealand are leading to projects that had been under consideration for years, trans- efforts both in the United States and abroad to incorporate portation agencies began considering environmental issues environmental performance measures into their decision- earlier in the planning process (Amekudzi and Meyer, 2005; making processes (Measures, Markers, and Mileposts, 2007; Evink, 2002). But the practice of environmental performance Environmental Plan, 2007). measurement is not yet comprehensively developed or prac- Current examples of common environmental measures have ticed within state DOTs. Many admit they are not as advanced focused on either air quality measures, which are well estab- in this field as they wish to be (Cambridge Systematics, Inc., lished or environmental inputs and outputs, which can be more forthcoming). easily measured than outcomes. Some examples include: Though environmental performance measurement is not yet fully developed, several reports address environmental Tons of pollution (or vehicle emissions) generated; issues within the context of transportation planning and imple- Total area of wetlands impacted/mitigated; and mentation (Amekudzi and Meyer, 2005; Evink, 2002; Venner, Number of water quality-related watershed restoration 2005; Venner, 2004; The Louis Berger Group, Inc., 2002). NCHRP projects. Report 541: Consideration of Environmental Factors in Trans- portation Systems Planning comprehensively assesses state- and metropolitan-level practices for addressing the environment in The remainder of this section identifies attempts to better transportation planning. Based on these findings, it presents an incorporate environmental concerns into transportation approach for integrating environmental factors in transporta- decision making including using performance measures. Rec- tion planning and decision making (Amekudzi and Meyer, ommended environmental outcome measures for the SHRP 2 2005). The FHWA maintains the Environmental Guidebook, effort follow. a portal to 47 environmental topics of concern to transporta- tion practitioners (FHWA, 2007). Through a partnership with Key Findings FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Trans- portation Officials (AASHTO) operates the Center for Envi- Departments of transportation are working with partners ronmental Excellence. The Center's objective is to promote to better address environmental issues throughout the

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39 transportation planning and project development process. minimizing the impacts of transportation projects on the One effort that takes a comprehensive approach to the envi- environment (Green Highways). The emphasis of the pro- ronmental impacts of transportation projects is Eco-Logical: gram is on the implementation of best management prac- An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Proj- tices, especially with respect to watershed-driven storm water ects, developed cooperatively by a team of eight federal agen- management, recycling and reuse, and conservation and cies and four state DOTs. Eco-Logical defines an ecosystem ecosystem management (Paving the Way . . . , 2006). Green approach based on: 1) integrated planning (i.e., agencies Highways is a voluntary, nonregulatory collaboration of working together and with the public to determine trans- private and public partners at both the state and federal portation and environmental priority areas); 2) exploring levels to identify opportunities that will improve the envi- mitigation options that include potentially mitigating off-site ronmental impacts of transportation systems. Opportuni- and with nonimpacted resources; and 3) using performance ties include joint funding, technology transfer, collaboration, measures to track progress. "Green infrastructure" provides and joint research. Leaders are recognized and rewarded for another framework for understanding the natural environ- their good practices, thereby encouraging others to adopt ment as integral to the infrastructure we rely on. Green infra- similar practices. structure refers to the interconnected network of waterways, Efforts to develop environmental performance measures wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural must continue to overcome practical challenges. Many areas; greenways, parks and other conservation lands; work- environmental issues are difficult to quantify and may be out- ing farms, ranches, and forests; and wilderness and other side the scope of influence of transportation agencies. Certain open spaces that support native species, maintain natural data are sometimes difficult and costly to obtain. Instead of ecological processes, sustain air and water resources and con- working with resource agencies, transportation agencies often tribute to the health and quality of life for America's commu- collect primary data themselves (Cambridge Systematics, Inc., nities and people. Just as communities need to upgrade and forthcoming; Venner, 2003). Determining the appropriate expand their gray infrastructure (e.g., roads, sewers, utility temporal and geographical scales to monitor is particularly lines), so too they need plans to upgrade and expand their challenging because ecosystems contain a wide variety of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure plans provide a interdependent flora and fauna, each having its own lifespan blueprint for conservation in the same way that long-range and range of habitat (Evink, 2002). transportation plans provide a blueprint for future roads or Transportation agencies need to engage environmental transit lines. These plans can create a framework for future resource agencies in a variety of ways. Transportation agen- growth while also ensuring that significant natural resources cies must work with resource agencies for a variety of reasons. will be preserved for future generations. State transportation agencies commonly fund positions within State agencies already utilize many methods of integrat- overworked resource agencies to expedite reviews of trans- ing environmental concerns into transportation decision portation projects. Most DOTs report that these arrange- making. California DOT's (Caltrans) Division of Environ- ments are helping to avoid problems, allow early consultation mental Analysis manages its Standard Environmental Refer- and development of programmatic approaches, and trouble- ence, an on-line resource compiled to assist state and local shoot problems when they arise (DOT-Funded Positions . . . , staff in planning, preparing, and submitting environmental 2005; Venner, 2003). Transportation agencies also create Mem- documents. Arizona, Florida, and New York have informa- orandums of Understanding and share information with tion systems to track projects and associated major mile- resource agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stones. Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish system, part of the Efficient Transportation Decision Making and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (ETDM) process, allows staff from multiple collaborating Administration Fisheries Service, the National Park Service, agencies to input and update information about transporta- and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Eco-Logical, 2006). tion projects. FDOT began tracking 23 performance measures However, transportation and resource agencies alike note the to gauge the efficacy of the ETDM process in 2005. Vermont time-consuming nature of developing interagency partner- DOT (VTrans) and WSDOT compiled an Environmental ships and how this hinders widespread application of stream- Operations Manual to guide environmental procedures on lining techniques (Venner, 2005). A Gallup (2004) survey of transportation projects (State DOT Environmental Programs: transportation and resource agencies involved in interagency Evaluation and Performance Measures, 2007). FHWA, EPA, environmental efforts noted differences in perceptions of how the Maryland State Highway Administration, the National well the efforts were working among participating organiza- Asphalt Pavement Association, the American Concrete Pave- tions. A survey of 10 pilot projects indicated that collaboration ment Association, and several other organizations have estab- is hard work, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive lished a Green Highways Partnership with the objective of (Bracaglia, 2005).