US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Planning and Environment Linkages


Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) helps transportation decision makers consider environmental, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process. Practitioners can also use the information, analysis, and products developed during planning to inform the environmental review process. Although not required, use of PEL is encouraged by FHWA.

PEL benefits include consistency, improved sharing of information, and savings of costs and time by eliminating duplicative efforts. For many years federal law and regulations have supported PEL. The FAST Act and the Final Rule for Statewide and Nonmetropolitan Transportation Planning and Metropolitan Transportation Planning advances the concept of PEL by encouraging innovation and accelerated project delivery through use of these approaches.

Collaborative practices that support PEL include information sharing, communication, and building and strengthening relationships among partners and stakeholders. This Application provides information, questions, and examples for practitioners to consider PEL at specific points in the decision making process.

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.

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

Collect PEL study information that is available at the outset of the LRTP update. Ensure that any information from PEL studies is used in the LRTP update and documented for ENV-1 use in project scoping.
LRP-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-2

Ensure regional vision and goals inform PEL corridor studies and subsequent projects during scoping (COR-1, ENV-1).
LRP-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-3

Document the evaluation criteria and methods used to evaluate scenarios for the long range plan, along with associated metrics, to inform corridor studies (COR-5) and project development (ENV-5).
LRP-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-4

Ensure transportation deficiencies are documented fully to inform corridor planning decisions (COR-2) and purpose and need (ENV-3).
LRP-5
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-6

Document the approved range of strategies from LRTP to provide a regional context for scoping during corridor studies (COR-1) and/or environmental review (ENV-1).
LRP-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-7

Document the basis for elimination of specific strategies in long range planning to inform corridor planning solution sets (COR-6), and the determination of an appropriate study area for the proposed project (ENV-4). This information, and any supporting data, may also be used for documentation purposes at COR-7 and ENV-6.
LRP-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-8

The adopted preferred plan scenario identifies the strategy used to address individual transportation deficiencies as well as documents the project concept that will be used for programming. This information informs the selection of solution sets (COR-6) and alternatives (ENV-7).
LRP-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application
LRP-10
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-10

Ensure the adopted LRTP is available to inform the scope of corridor planning and/or environmental review (COR-1, ENV-1) including the decision to conduct a PEL study and any advance mitigation strategies and agreements to inform ENV-8 and ENV-12.
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
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-3

During consideration of the Project List, identify PEL candidate projects or provide an update on the status of active PEL studies.
PRO-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-4

Use PEL study outcomes and project concepts to inform project prioritization.
PRO-5
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-6
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application
PRO-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application

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

Consider whether the corridor planning study will be conducted using a PEL approach.
COR-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-2

Document the problems and opportunities identified to inform the purpose and need developed in ENV-3.
COR-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-3

Document the approved goals to inform purpose and need in ENV-3 as well as the selection of evaluation criteria, methods, and measures in ENV-5.
COR-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-4

Collaborate with environmental review resource agencies and other partners to reach consensus on the level of analysis that will be needed for direct incorporation of corridor planning outcomes into environmental review.
COR-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-5

Based on the agreements reached in COR 4, document the approved evaluation criteria to inform ENV-5.
COR-6
This Key Decision is not associated with application
COR-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-7

Document the transportation projects identified within the solution set for input to the range of alternatives considered in ENV-6 and conceptual mitigation at ENV-8.
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 PEL corridor planning study outcomes may impact the individual transportation project priority.

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

Gather information from PEL studies and information generated specifically to inform environmental review in long range planning and/or corridor planning. Relevant questions and data from LRP-1, LRP-2, LRP-6, and LRP 10 as well as COR-1, COR-3, COR-6, and COR-9 may be useful.
ENV-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-3

Collect information on transportation deficiencies, problems, and opportunities (LRP-4, COR-6) for technical inputs to the purpose and need. The purpose and need should be consistent with the regional vision and goals (LRP-2) and corridor goals (COR-3).
ENV-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-4

Review data for specific scenarios/solutions identified in LRP-7 or COR-6 to inform identification of the initial project study area.
ENV-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-5

The evaluation criteria, methods and measures for comparing alternatives are informed by the outcome of LRP-3 and COR-5. If the approved criteria, methods, and measures are inconsistent with those used in planning, document and provide the basis for that decision.
ENV-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-6

Consider the identification of strategies from long range planning and solution sets from corridor planning in selecting the full range of alternatives (LRP-7 and COR-7).
ENV-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-7

Consider the outcomes of LRP-8 and COR-7 to inform the alternatives carried forward for consistency with region-wide multimodal improvements.
ENV-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-8

Inform the conceptual mitigation decision using the advance mitigation strategies and/or agreements documented in a PEL study (LRP-10 or COR-7).
ENV-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-10
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-12
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-13
This Key Decision is not associated with application
ENV-14
This Key Decision is not associated with application