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A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making

Goals of Project Development and the NEPA Process

The goals of the project development stage are to find out where a project is located and what it looks like.

Projects that come through a transportation planning process will eventually be closely looked at to see how they might impact the community, the natural environment, and our health and welfare. Before any project can move forward to construction, the FHWA and FTA may address and comply with more than 40 laws related to safety and the environment. These laws cover social, economic, and environmental (SEE) concerns ranging from community cohesion to threatened and endangered species.To get through this detailed process, FHWA and FTA use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to evaluate all SEE concerns with each individual project.

photo of a highway running parallel to a train

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enacted in 1969, requires that any activity or project receiving federal funding or other federal approvals (including transportation projects) undergo this analysis of potential impacts. Under NEPA, FHWA and FTA work closely with other federal agencies and state, local, and tribal governments; public and private organizations; and the public to understand a project's impact. This process involves striking a delicate balance among many different factorsmobility needs, economic prosperity, health and environmental protection, community and neighborhood preservation, and quality of life for present and future generations.

Updated: 03/28/2012
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