Planning and Environment Linkages

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Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) helps transportation decision makers consider environmental, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process. PEL bridges the gap between transportation planning and environmental review by using the information, analyses, and products developed during planning as part of, or to inform, environmental studies conducted in accordance with NEPA. NEPA procedures provide flexibility allowing for the adoption or incorporation by reference of information and data from a broad variety of sources into NEPA reviews. For example, NEPA analyses can include identification of the unique community needs, transportation system performance targets, geospatial environmental siting assessments, traffic studies, noise and vibration analyses, and previous planning corridor studies to support essential elements of the environmental review.

Such transportation planning products may provide decisions and analyses that inform project purpose and need, identify alternatives and elimination of unreasonable alternatives, and support interagency collaboration and public involvement, all of which are also necessary for environmental reviews under NEPA. Although not required, use of PEL is encouraged by FHWA. Considering the various authorities and direction regarding PEL, the Statewide and nonmetropolitan and metropolitan planning rule maintains flexibility in the determination of which authority to use and should consider the conditions associates with each authority.

The Decision Guide provides information on the individual Key Decisions at which these processes are integrated. Hover over the highlighted Key Decisions to understand the specific relationship of PEL to the decision. Click on any highlighted Key Decision for more information about questions, data, and relationships that support this interface. Key Decisions that are greyed-out have no specific relevance to the individual application or topic area but are still accessible from this graphic.