US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Human Environment and Communities



Human Environment is the context in which we live, work, and play—in short, it's our livable community. It reflects a sense of place, including the infrastructure, natural resources, and services that support the community. It requires focusing on the people in a geographic area who are connected by how they live, in addition to where they live. It means considering subgroups within the overall population and how transportation systems can affect everyone's quality of life.

For many years, considering impacts on the community has been expanding to include economy, equity, connectivity, livability, sustainability, and sensitivity to the context in which transportation systems are built and operate. The breadth of this topic can be challenging to transportation practitioners. Developing both broad and specific understanding of individual communities often requires new data-gathering techniques, outreach methodologies, and partnerships.


Collaboration with the community is essential to understand the relationship between transportation systems and the communities they serve. Transportation decisions are of mutual interest to professionals and a wide range of community groups and individuals. This includes agencies with a mission to preserve and protect community features and populations as well as individuals or groups with specific interests.

The Decision Guide helps transportation practitioners identify the individual Key Decisions where specifically addressing community interests and concerns is important. Hover over the highlighted Key Decisions to understand the specific relationship of human environment and communities 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.

Application Roles Example

The role of each partner changes from one Key Decision to another. Understanding partner roles and how they change throughout the process is essential to successful collaboration. The Decision Guide describes the four possible roles for partners at each Key Decision:

Application Role Index Table

lrp-icon
LRP

This is going to be replaced with a description for Long Range Transportation Planning.

pro-icon
PRO

This is going to be replaced with a description for Programming phase in the Decision Guide.

cor-icon
COR

Corridor Planning I'm sure has an important description that will be replaced with this sample text.

env-icon
ENV

Evironmental Review (NEPA) Merged with Permitting something something.

norole-icon
No Role

Does not participate because the resulting action is outside the agency’s interests and requirements.

LRP-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-1

Identify how agencies and stakeholders with an interest in the community context and built environment as well as individual populations will participate in long-range planning.This is an opportunity to involve and inform resource agencies that will make project-level decisions about the long range plan.Collect information about known human environment features, populations, and interests.
LRP-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-2

In developing the transportation goals, take into consideration the vision and goals of individual communities as well as groups or populations represented.
LRP-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-3

Incorporate criteria, methods, and measures that will support evaluation of how the community is impacted in each scenario considered, including specific impacts typically considered evaluated during environmental review.
LRP-4
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-5
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-6

Collect and evaluate information about transportation improvement strategies that are important, meaningful, and consistent with community values and needs.
LRP-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-7

Identify and evaluate potential scenarios to determine which are preferred from a human environment perspective.
LRP-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-8

Prior to adoption, provide information to decision makers about the overall advantages and/or disadvantages of individual scenarios to communities and populations. After adoption, provide information to the community on implementation of the LRTP, its benefits, and any associated community changes which may support or enhance those benefits.
LRP-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-10
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application

PRO-1
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-3
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-4

Identify potential human environment impacts, support, and/or opposition for individual projects that may impact project prioritization or sequencing.
PRO-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-5

When the Draft TIP is released, request comments on individual projects from representatives of disadvantaged communities, cultural and historic resources, and other stakeholders to provide support for the human environment and community goals, interests, and transportation needs.
PRO-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-6

Collect and consider input from the community and/or individual stakeholders on projects in the TIP prior to adoption.
PRO-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-8

When the Draft STIP is released, request comments on individual projects from representatives of disadvantaged communities, cultural and historic resources, and other stakeholders to provide support for the human environment and community goals, interests, and transportation needs in the non-metropolitan area.
PRO-9
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-9

Collect and consider input from non-metropolitan community stakeholders in support of or opposition to individual projects prior to approval.

COR-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-1

During scoping for the corridor plan, identify relevant community information and potential stakeholders to engage that will bring a full and inclusive understanding of the community. Prepare for environmental review to the extent possible by soliciting participation from the State Historic Preservation Office and others.
COR-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-2

Collect information about the community needs and interests as context for the corridor.
COR-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-3

Provide information on community goals and plans to help define the corridor planning process.
COR-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-4

Engage decision makers in the environmental review process concerning data available and/or needed to ensure robust consideration of the human environment and community needs for specific corridor planning solutions. This agreement is a critical streamlining approach.
COR-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-5

Incorporate data provided from human environment sources in the development of criteria, methodology, and performance measures to evaluate potential solutions.
COR-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-6

Develop solution sets that support the needs and goals of the community. Identify any solutions that are fatally flawed with respect to the human environment and community.
COR-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-7

Evaluate how individual solution sets will impact the community prior to selecting the preferred. After this selection, identify how best to communicate the outcome to community stakeholders and human environment decision makers for environmental review.
COR-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application
COR-9
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-9

Consider how the implementation priorities will affect the community and individual populations.

ENV-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-1

Based on the proposed project limits, identify specific populations, champions, representatives, and other key community leaders to engage during environmental review.
ENV-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-3

Consider the community need for the proposed changes to transportation infrastructure in defining project purpose and need.
ENV-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-4

Take into account individual populations as well as the entire community interests in determining the geographic extent of human, natural, and socioeconomic resources which may be impacted by the project.
ENV-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-5

Develop evaluation criteria that allow full consideration of specific human, natural, and socioeconomic resources.
ENV-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-6

Ensure consideration of those alternatives preferred by the community and/or that benefit specific individual populations prior to approving the full range. If any community-preferred alternatives are fatally flawed, provide a full description of the issues to stakeholders/partners for resolution.
ENV-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-7

Evaluate each alternative across relevant human environment considerations. Identify and document those alternatives which meet community goals and individual population interests.
ENV-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-8

Conduct broad public involvement on the Draft EIS alternatives in order to identify potential mitigation needed.
ENV-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-10
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-10

Inform the community and individual populations on the implications and impacts associated with the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA).
ENV-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-12
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-12

Engage key stakeholders/community in identifying means to avoid and minimize impacts of LEDPA.
ENV-13
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-13

Provide public involvement on the Final EIS. Report to specific stakeholders on avoidance and minimization agreements to collect final input.
ENV-14
This Key Decision is not associated with application