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A Guide to Transportation Decision Making

Goals of Project Development and the NEPA Process

The goals of the project-development process are to decide where a project will be located, what it will look like, and how it will function.

Projects that advance through a transportation-planning process will eventually be subjected to even more refined examination to determine how they might impact the community, particularly the natural environment as well as public health and welfare. Before any project can move forward to the construction phase, FHWA and FTA may address and assess compliance 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 the impact on threatened and endangered species. In order to successfully complete this detailed process, FHWA and FTA use the NEPA process to evaluate the SEE concerns with each individual project.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires that any activity or project receiving Federal funding or other Federal approvals (including transportation projects) undergo a detailed 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 the potential impacts of a project. This process requires stakeholders to strike a delicate balance between many important factors; including, mobility needs, economic prosperity, health and environmental protection, community and neighborhood preservation, and quality of life for present and future generations.

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Updated: 3/22/2012
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