Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed the Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) process to improve communication during the transportation project planning. ETDM encourages continuous agency participation and streamlines the environmental review process. FDOT's development of ETDM was in response to Congress's Environmental Streamlining Initiative and in response to FHWA encouragement and support. The Environmental Screening Tool (EST), a Web-enabled geographic information system (GIS) and interactive database, is used throughout the planning process to communicate project information to partner agencies and the public and facilitate the analysis of impacts as well as management and documentation of reviewers' official comments.
The EST database includes project information, environmental resources, GIS data layers, standardized GIS-based environmental screening analysis, and tools for data entry and reporting. The EST is an important technological tool because it integrates data into a standard format, analyzes the impacts of proposed projects, communicates the information to the Environmental Technical Advisory Team (ETAT), stores and reports all the considerations identified during the review, and maintains readily accessible project records during the project life-cycle.
The EST manages communication with stakeholders through two screening events during the transportation planning process, called the Planning and Programming Screens. Early project screenings identify projects that may not be feasible or will require substantial additional coordination. The EST enables stakeholders to share information, conduct analysis, generate reports, and provide information to the public. The electronic database tracks a project from concept to a formal document review. The EST enables experts as well as the general public to review and input information into the database. Users can develop their own profiles, maps, and datasets that can integrate with other systems.
The EST successfully supports the ETDM process and includes practitioners from DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, Federal and State agencies, tribal governments, and public representatives. The EST is an efficient tool to manage ETDM projects and it is straightforward to project partners and available to the public.
For more information, contact Peter McGilvray, Florida Department of Transportation Environmental Management Office at email@example.com.
EST screen captures from ETDM. Source: FDOT