Word / Phase Definition
Acceptable Practice A collaborative transportation decision making process that manages risk of redo loops by meeting all legal requirements, consistency with the community's vision, and incorporation of early and on-going consultation with all decision making partners and the public. Information gathered from partners and the public is incorporated into cost and schedules to stabilize project delivery. Through these collaborative partnerships, decisions made during long range and corridor planning has an excellent chance of being accepted by decision makers and the public during NEPA/permitting.
Adopt A formal, binding action by an authorized agency; adoption occurs where law or regulation requires that a formally constituted body has a stated role; usually at the end of a process. Formal, Written, Binding, Long-term.
Advisor A decision making partner who provides feedback as to whether the decision is supported or opposed and whether there are particular issues of concern.
Air Quality External Process Plans or processes that detail requirements for non-attainment or maintenance regions. The Decision Guide supporting information only considers the conformity process with respect to air quality. Emissions hot spots are considered within the environmental review process and not as an external air quality process.
Alternative One of a number of specific transportation improvements proposals, alignments, options, design choices, etc., in a defined study area.
Analysis The results of evaluated data. For example, transportation decision-makers may need analysis when the raw data from an external process does not adequately inform them of the potential impacts.
Approve A binding action by a body; approval implies implementation and actor participation; can happen throughout a process. Formal, Unwritten, Binding, Long-term/ No re-visitation.
Avoidance Altogether eliminating an adverse environmental impact from a transportation decision by not taking a certain action or parts of an action.
Build Alternative One or more specific transportation improvements involving new construction or reconstruction in a defined study area.
Capital Improvement Local planning for the addition of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and other structures.
Collaboration To cooperate with others in a joint endeavor or area of mutual interest in order to influence or effect the outcome.
Collaborative Decision Making Framework Series of key decisions properly sequenced and detailed to support collaborative decisions for capacity projects.
Communication The two-way process of reaching mutual understanding so that stakeholders and decision makers not only exchange information, but also create and share meaning.
Conceptual Mitigation Conceptual mitigation is not a specific term, but generally includes a description of the impacts associated with each transportation alternative, expected requirements for compensatory mitigation and plans for how that mitigation will be provided. Compensatory mitigation plans include potential sites for mitigation, an evaluation of those sites and plans for providing any off-site mitigation. If there was an advance mitigation strategy, it should be addressed in the plan.
Concurrence A formal agreement among parties that is documented by the decision-makers. Refer to Memorandum of Understanding and Roles and Responsibilities for the concept and related statement.
Concurrent Steps Key decisions that can be determined at the same time in the process.
Conformity In non-attainment or maintenance areas, transportation planning must ensure that Federal funding and approval goes to transportation activities that are consistent (or conform) with the region's air quality goals. (
Conformity Determination A conformity determination demonstrates that the total emissions projected for a plan or program are within the emissions limits established by the air quality plan or State Implementation Plan (SIP) and that transportation control measures are implemented in a timely fashion. When a conformity determination is not made according to schedule, use of Federal-aid funds is restricted. (
Consensus A term to mean general accord or collective opinion which allows the group to move forward in decision-making.
Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) A collaborative, multidisciplinary, and integrated approach to transportation decision making that relies heavily on meaningful stakeholder and public involvement to plan, develop, and maintain transportation systems and facilities in a manner that preserves or enhances aesthetic, scenic, historic, environmental, and community assets in balance with safety and mobility needs. (
Corridor Planning Process A procedure usually done when the LRTP leaves open the possibility of multiple approaches to fulfill goals and objectives and before the environmental review process.
Data Unanalyzed information, such as maps, GIS data, and public comments, from an external process that are fed directly into a transportation decision.
Decision From an external process, the actual decisions or agreements made in those processes which may impact transportation decisions.
Decision Guide A framework of the key decisions in long range planning, programming, corridor planning and environmental review which includes the information needed to support collaboration and other important topics. The Decision Guide is the foundation for all concepts presented in PlanWorks. Visit Decision Guide to learn more.
Decision Maker The agency (or agencies) that either acts as the lead agency or is required to take legal action in the decision making process.
Decision-making Authority The ability of participants and the team as a whole to make key decisions regarding the project outcomes and to have those decisions respected and up-held by the agencies they represent as well as other decision-making partners.
Eco-Logical The recommended 8-step approach serving as the starting point from which ecosystem-based mitigation decisions can be made. Following Eco-Logical, agencies work together with the public to integrate plans, identify priority areas, and determine migration options. (
Ecosystem crediting Accounting methods for valuing ecosystem services. This concept is addressed in Step 6 of the Integrated Ecological Framework, Develop Crediting Strategy
Environmental Review Process The process during which proposed transportation improvement projects are examined with respect to the impacts to the natural and human communities. See NEPA.
Envision DSS A free, open-source decision support software tool relying on ArcGIS, available from Oregon State University’s (OSU's) Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering. The tool is used for scenario-based community and regional planning and environmental assessments.
Evaluation Criteria Indicators of how well a specific scenario, solution set, or alternative meet the vision and goals; the evaluation methodology contains specific evaluation criteria to support a comparison of the potential solutions under consideration.
Evaluation Methodology An established procedure using evaluation criteria to analyze and compare transportation options on the relative merits of alternative actions.
External Process Any process outside of the transportation decision-making process that can influence transportation decisions. Such processes include the Land Use Process, Air Quality Process, Human Environment Process, Safety and Security Process, and others.
Fatal Flaw A defect in a scenario, solution set, or alternative that makes implementation of such strategy impossible or highly undesirable.
Feasibility Study Project/ corridor specific study intended to provide preliminary information about a potential TIP project. A Feasibility Study is the investigation of a candidate project requested by the public, local governments, and/or Board of Transportation members. The purpose of the study is to describe the proposed project, including costs of selected potential alternatives, and identify potential problems and impacts in advance of detailed analysis.
Fiscal Constraint A demonstration of sufficient funds (Federal, State, local, and private) to implement proposed transportation system improvements, as well as to operate and maintain the entire system, through the comparison of revenues and costs. (
Fiscally Constrained A financially constrained metropolitan transportation plan, TIP, and STIP includes sufficient financial information for demonstrating that those projects can be implemented using committed, available, or reasonably available revenue sources, with reasonable assurance that the federally supported transportation system is being adequately operated and maintained.
Formal Stakeholder Groups (1) Establishment is approved by the lead decision-making body, (2) members are invited to participate, and (3) the group is assigned an official role and responsibility and given a set of expectations.
Goal Generalized statements that broadly relate the physical environment to values.
Human Environment External Process Plans or processes pertaining to human environment considerations. This may include historic or archeological features, community impact analyses, or other planning undertaken to protect or enhance community features.
Ideal Practice A collaborative transportation decision making process where decision-making partners make binding decisions during long range and corridor planning. These decisions are carried forward into NEPA/permitting and virtually eliminate any possibility of redo loops related to planning decisions. Communities, stakeholders and the public participate in decision making during all phases in order to minimize the risk of projects being stalled or stopped by controversy. Information gathered from partners and the public is incorporated into cost and schedules to stabilize project delivery.
Implementation Actions The full set of solutions recommended at the end of the Corridor Planning Process that will enable the corridor to meet its long-term vision and goals.
Influencing Process A process that impacts transportation decision making but is not essential to advancing transportation decision making.
Initiating Study Studies that identify regional/ area-wide goals, issues, needs.
Integrated Ecological Framework (IEF) A nine step process designed to bring about efficient, integrated consultation on natural resources to inform transportation and mitigation decisions. Data, analysis and decisions from the IEF inform the key decisions described in the Decision Guide. More information about the IEF is available on the Resource Agency page.
Integrated Planning Integrated Planning is the interaction between the transportation decision-making process and external processes. Identifying the influences of these external processes on the transportation process is important in ensuring the end product of the transportation process is comprehensive and attained through full collaboration with other partners.
Integration The act of considering, capturing, or using data, an analysis, a decision, or a process from an external process in a transportation decision-making process. External processes often produce outcomes that significantly affect a transportation decision and thus must be incorporated into transportation decision-making.
Interest The specific perspective or values that a decision making partner brings into the process. For example, FHWA has an interest in ensuring that the requirements of the federal regulations are met. The Decision Guide considers the identified interests of the four partners and of the stakeholders in each phase of transportation decision making.
Jurisdictional Determination Written agreement, from the US Army Corps of Engineers, on the determination of wetlands, streams and navigable waters that are within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (the geographic jurisdiction of the Section 404 program and the applicability of the exemptions under Section 404(f) of the Clean Water Act).
Key Decisions Steps in the decision making process that: (a) Require approval from higher levels of authority; and/or (b) Need consensus among many decision makers; and/or (c) Are required by law or regulation.
Key Risks Uncertain events that affect a project's scope, schedule, or budget.
Land Use External Process Plans or processes pertaining to land use, land planning, and land development.
Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) According to Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act:

Except as provided under section 404(b)(2), no dischshrpc01arge of dredged or fill material shall be permitted if there is a practicable alternative to the proposed discharge which would have less adverse impact on the aquatic ecosystem, so long as the alternative does not have other significant adverse environmental consequences.

Refer to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for a detailed definition of "practicable".
Long Range Transportation Planning Process A mandated federal procedure by which state and metropolitan transportation planning organizations develop a multimodal Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that evaluates the current status of the regional transportation system or identifies necessary improvements to the system and guides the advancement of the system for at least 20 years in the future.
Maintenance Activities to ensure the preservation of an existing highway or transit line (e.g., highway surface, shoulders, roadsides, and structures; traffic control devices; and road, rail, and signal repair). (
Measure of Effectiveness Measures or tests which reflect the degree of attainment of particular objectives.
Merged Process The combination of two processes into one streamlined process. When two distinct processes share many decision points, most decisions can be made concurrently, creating a merged process. Merger improves collaboration and creates efficiencies in the decision making process.
Minimize Reduce adverse impacts on the environment by a transportation decision by limiting the magnitude of the action and its implementation.
Mitigation Mitigation of adverse environmental impacts from a transportation action is an ordered approach of avoiding impacts if possible, minimizing necessary impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of an action, resolving any impacts by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment, compensating for necessary impacts by providing substitute resources or environment, and reducing or eliminating necessary impacts using preservation and maintenance operations.
MOU/MOA An MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) or an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) is an agreement between agencies that specifies the terms of the project, documents the requirements for team member participation, and establishes the specific authority that each team member has for making decisions.
Natural Environment External Process Plans or processes pertaining to the natural environment. The Decision Guide integrates the Eco-Logical framework as representative of the natural environment team.
NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) A federal environmental policy that establishes a process by which federal agencies must study the environmental effects of their proposals, document the analysis, and make the information available to the public for comment. For transportation projects, NEPA requires examination and avoidance of potential impacts to the social and natural environment when considering approval of proposed projects. It provides an interdisciplinary framework for federal agencies to prevent environmental damage and contains "action-forcing" procedures to ensure that federal agency decision makers take environmental factors into account. For more information, please visit
No-Build Alternative An alternative developed to evaluate the impacts of not building a project in order to make comparisons with one or more Build Alternatives. The No-Build Alternative can either be a "do nothing" option that involves no construction or it may include improvements such as adding turn lanes, improving intersections, signalization, signage, pavement markings or other techniques that require minimal construction and no addition of capacity.
Notice of Intent The first step in the NEPA EIS process, before the draft EIS, final EIS, and record of decision (ROD). The NOI is published in the Federal Register by the lead Federal agency and signals the initiation of the process. An NOI should contain a brief narrative description of the proposed action, a brief description of possible alternatives to accomplish the goals of the proposed action, and a brief description of the proposed scoping process for a particular action.
Objective Specific / measurable statements related to the attainment of goals.
Observer A decision making partner with limited involvement in a decision; is kept updated but does not provide opinions or direction.
Operations The ongoing function of the transportation system and/or the department(s) within a transportation agency responsible for the ongoing system function.
Operations and Maintenance An overarching term for activities related to the performance of routine, preventive, predictive, scheduled and unscheduled actions aimed at preventing transportation system failure or decline.
Opportunity A potential action within a corridor that has the ability to improve the corridor's transportation system performance. See problems and opportunities in Corridor Planning.
Organizational Support The level of commitment received from individual agencies as represented by the availability of resources and required support.
Outcome Statement The intended result of a decision (or activity).
Participant Stability The degree to which members of the team are continuously involved throughout the transportation decision-making process.
Partners Participants who have a decision making role at some point in the transportation decision making process. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), State Departments of Transportation (DOT), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), and resource agencies are designated as partners by the federal legislation that governs transportation. Other partners may be designated for specific plans or projects.
Performance Measure Indicators of how well the transportation system is performing with regard to both qualitative and quantitative measurements. Sometimes used as feedback in the decision making process.
Phase PlanWorks addresses the earliest parts of transportation decision making and divides this into four phases: Long Range Transportation Planning, Programming, Corridor Planning, and Environmental Review.
Practicable As per the NEPA process, federal agencies are required "to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony." Within the Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting process, the applicant must demonstrate to the Army Corps of Engineers that the proposed project represents the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) to achieve the project's purpose.
Practitioner An individual professional who is directly involved in support of the transportation decision-making process in an ongoing manner.
Pre-Development Agreement A contract between a public agency and a private entity allowing the private entity to participate in the preliminary project design for a reduced or deferred fee, in exchange for right of first refusal during the project procurement phase.
Problem (in a corridor) A potential action within a corridor that has the ability to negatively impact the corridor's transportation system performance. See problems and opportunities in Corridor Planning.
Problem Statement A statement outlining the underlying causes of the corridor or regional problems (not just transportation-related, but also economic, natural, cultural, etc), written in such a way that the statement is useful for development and evaluation of potential solutions. Problem statements should avoid being mode specific, although they can relate a specific type of vehicle to the problem. (
Process Map Also known as an organization outcome map. A diagram, chart, or list that describes each step in a process, the specific outputs of each step, and the responsibilities of people to complete the step so that each component of the process can be identified.
Process Steps The specific steps in a process. For example, the individual steps of the NEPA process (purpose and need, selection of alternatives) represent process steps.
Programming process The procedural steps necessary to allocate funding to specific projects in the metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) or the state Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
Project Concepts A transportation improvement idea that, when advanced through the stages of planning, environment, design, and construction, would satisfy an identified need and was considered in the context of the local area socioeconomics and topography, future travel demand, and infrastructure improvements in the area.
Project Development The general process of seeing a transportation project from the beginning, where a need is identified from an existing plan, to getting it programmed, to the end, where it is approved for implementation.
Purpose Statement The rationale for a decision (or activity).
Re-do Loop A repeating of key decisions in any of the decision making processes.
Reach Consensus An agreement to move on in the process; more formal than establish, can only occur within the process, not at the end of the process; each member is asked whether s/he can "live with the common decision and allow the process to move forward." Written or unwritten; formal or informal; binding only because agree to move forward; can re-visit later in the process.
Record of Decision (ROD) A federal environmental decision document issued by FHWA that explains the basis for the project decision, summarizes mitigation measures to incorporate into the project, and documents any required Section 4(f) approvals.
Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO) A Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO) helps plan and implement TSM&O strategies in an ongoing and collaborative way. It states the shared regional objective for transportation operations and identifies what is needed to achieve that objective. This includes physical improvements, relationships and procedures, and resources. A RCTO is developed through agreement between those responsible for operating the transportation system on a day-to-day basis: staff representing traffic operations, transit operations, emergency management, transportation planning and others.
Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF) Conservation and restoration strategy (data and plans) integrated with transportation and land use data and plans. The REF consists of: (1) the list of resources included; (2) a database of viability requirements and responses to a variety of land uses, transportation features, and other disturbances as well as conservation practices for each resource or priority conservation area; (3) a map that synthesizes existing achieved conservation areas and identified, but not yet achieved, conservation priority areas from accepted sources. The map can be supplemented as needed with individual resource distribution maps to provide complete coverage of the list of resources.
Resource Agencies Federal agencies with regulatory and/or permitting authority related to protection of natural or cultural resources. Examples include (but are not limited to) the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers
Risk Management The practice of dealing with key risks by preparing for them, developing response strategies, and monitoring risk throughout the project life cycle. Effective risk management is dealing with risks before they arise, rather than strictly reacting to them after the fact.
Role The level of commitment, feedback, or input expected by participants in transportation planning or the amount of ownership that a participant holds in the process. The role is generally based on the participant's interests as related to their organization's mission for a particular phase in transportation planning. In PlanWorks, a participant's role can change from one key decision to the next. Roles often determine who makes the final decision and who contributes to the discussion but does not have a vote in the final decision.
Role Clarity The ability of participants and the team as a whole to understand the role that each team member has within the transportation decision-making process.
Safety and Security External Process Plans or processes that detail the requirements for a transportation system safety and security. For example, the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).
Scenario A set of strategies that address an identified need.
Scope The types of actions to be included in a project, the range of alternatives, and the impacts to be considered.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act This authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to issue permits for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. If NEPA action requires issuance of a Section 404 permit, the lead agency should ensure integration of the environmental review process required by NEPA with the Section 404 program.
Sense of Ownership The feeling on the part of the team members that they have played a key role in formulating and implementing a project that the end-product represents the combined efforts of the team, and that each individual sees the benefit that their contributions made to the team's success.
Shared Goals The degree to which the decision-making group supports common goals.
Slider Step A key decision that can be performed at multiple points in the process.
Solution A possible resolution for the corridor that addresses issues in the problem statement and builds upon stated opportunities.
Solution Set A group of compatible and complimentary solutions that is feasible to implement and wholly address the corridor's problems and opportunities.
Solutions Screening The process during collaborative decision making of refining potential options and using broad-based goals and criteria that result in a decision on the preferred/best set of solutions to address transportation deficiencies and opportunities.
Stakeholder Person or group that may be affected by a transportation plan, program or project. Stakeholder can include: Government agencies that are not part of the decision-making partnership, formal advocacy groups, and informal groups that come together around transportation decision making (i.e., neighborhood associations).
Stakeholder Commitment The intellectual and emotional involvement in the outcome of a project or plan that results in ongoing participation.
Stakeholder Understanding The level of knowledge that stakeholders possess regarding the decision-making process, roles within the process, appropriate means for influencing the process, and methods for accessing required information.
Strategy A specific tactic or policy employed or recommended by an organization; for example: operational improvements, TDM, widening.
Streamlining environmental review The process of several agencies working together to establish realistic timeframes, adhering to those timeframes, and effectively coordinating time and resources in order to complete a transportation process as efficiently but quickly as possible. Section 1309 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) mandated environmental streamlining as the timely delivery of transportation projects while protecting and enhancing the environment. A key element of environmental streamlining is communication with and gathering of input from the public and stakeholders.
Sub-process A process that contains a step that is critical to the transportation decision making process and results in a key decision for transportation decision making.
Swim Lanes Also known as Rummler-Brache diagrams. A visual element used in process flow diagrams that depict what or who is working on a particular subset of a process.
Team A group of people working together towards the common goal of accomplishing the project while meeting the federal and regional standards and requirements as well as the expectations of the various stakeholders.
Tiered (e.g., tiered decision making) Having multiple levels, going from general and broad down to more specific.
Transportation Deficiencies Areas, corridors, or roads which are inadequate to support transportation needs in terms of system quality or system requirements.
Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O) Integrated strategies to optimize the performance of existing infrastructure and designed to preserve capacity and improve the safety, and reliability of the transportation system. Strategies include: Actions such as traffic detection, control and surveillance; management of corridors, freeways, arterials, work zones, emergencies, freight and parking; active transportation and demand management; traveler information services; congestion pricing and Coordination of highway, rail, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian operations as well as traffic incident management, intelligent transportation systems, communication networks, and information sharing systems.
Vision A statement representing a community's desires for the future.
Visioning Indicators Quantitative or qualitative data used to provide information on how well a vision is achieving desired goals. Indicators reflect community values, quality of life considerations, and other context variables which allow practitioners and stakeholders to assess whether the community is headed in the preferred direction.
Visioning Measures Quantitative or qualitative data used to describe a condition.
Visioning Practitioner Staff member working for an agency or organization (i.e., transportation agency, governmental agency, private or civic organization, or consultant) engaged at some level in a visioning process.
Visioning Problem Statement The need and context for a vision.
Visioning User A person who is impacted by the vision, or utilizes the vision, but is not involved in the vision development process. Examples of users are citizens, implementing agencies, and private and civic sector partners.