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Integrating Road Safety into NEPA Analysis: A Primer for Safety and Environmental Professionals

Table of Contents

  1. Abbreviations
  2. Preface
  3. 1.0 Introduction
    1. 1.1 Primer Organization
    2. 1.2 Using the Primer
  4. 2.0 NEPA Overview and Levels of Documentation
    1. 2.1 NEPA Overview
    2. 2.2 Classes of Action
  5. 3.0 Considering Safety Before the NEPA Process
    1. 3.1 Introduction
    2. 3.2 Linking The NEPA Process to Safety Planning
    3. 3.3 Transitioning into the NEPA Process
  6. 4.0 Public and Stakeholder Outreach
    1. 4.1 Introduction
    2. 4.2 Scoping
    3. 4.3 Who to Contact
    4. 4.4 Questions to Ask
  7. 5.0 Purpose and Need Statements
    1. 5.1 Introduction
    2. 5.2 Defining the Safety Problem
    3. 5.3 Considering Multimodal Safety
    4. 5.4 If Safety is Not Part of the Purpose and Need
    5. 5.5 Summary
  8. 6.0 Alternatives Analysis
  9. 6.1 Introduction
    1. 6.2 Developing Alternatives
    2. 6.3 Screening Alternatives
  10. 7.0 Defining the Affected Environment
    1. 7.1 Introduction
    2. 7.2 Project Contexts and Safety Considerations
  11. 8.0 Analysis of Environmental Impacts and Mitigation
    1. 8.1 Introduction
    2. 8.2 Construction Impacts
    3. 8.3 Indirect and Cumulative Impacts
    4. 8.4 Mitigation and Enhancements
    5. 8.5 Safety After the NEPA Process
  12. A. Resources
    1. A.1 NEPA Training
    2. A.2 Safety Training
    3. A.3 References for NEPA Regulation and Guidance
    4. A.4 Analytical Tools and Resources for Identifying and Addressing Project-Level Safety Issues
  13. B. Case Studies
    1. B.1 Colorado DOT: East Eagle Interchange -- Innovative Process for Including Safety in Alternatives Analysis
    2. B.2 Colorado DOT: Central Park Boulevard -- Safety Analysis Techniques
    3. B.3 Washington DOT: SR 502 -- Using Proven Safety Countermeasures
    4. B.4 District of Columbia DOT: South Capitol Street -- Addressing Safety for Multiple Modes
    5. B.5 Wisconsin DOT: U.S. 8 -- Public Involvement and Safety
    6. B.6 Tennessee DOT: Expediting Road Safety Improvements

List of Tables

  1. Table 4.1 Potentially Interested Stakeholders
  2. Table 5.1 Information and Data to Include in Purpose and Need Statements for Safety Focused Projects
  3. Table 7.1 Summary of Characteristics and Considerations in Special Contexts

List of Figures

  1. Figure 2.1 NEPA Decision-Making Process -- Levels of Documentation
  2. Figure 2.2 Integrating Safety into NEPA Analysis
  3. Figure 3.1 Integrating SHSP Priorities into other Plans and Programs
  4. Figure 5.1 Nominal and Substantive Safety
  5. Figure B.1 Alternatives Analysis Summary Sheets
  6. Figure B.2 Colorado DOT LOSS Model for Total Crashes in Study Area
  7. Figure B.3 Build -- No-Build Alternative
  8. Figure B.4 Streetscape Concept for South Capitol Street


American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials
Categorical Exclusions
Context Sensitive Solutions
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental Assessments
Environmental Impact Statements
Final Environmental Impact Statement
Federal Highway Administration
Finding of No Significant Impact
Highway Safety Improvement Program
Interactive Highway Safety Design Model
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
National Cooperative Highway Research Program
National Environmental Policy Act
Planning and Environmental Linkages
Record of Decision
Road Safety Audits
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
State Highway Safety Office
Strategic Highway Safety Plan
Transportation Improvement Program


Photo of a waterfront roadway in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

This primer presents strategies to capitalize on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process as an effective tool for maximizing the safety benefits of transportation projects. It describes how to take advantage of the latest safety research and analysis techniques at every stage of the NEPA process, and how to link these to safety planning. It is one of a series of primers covering integration of different elements of safety into the transportation planning process.

The NEPA process provides a unique opportunity to apply the latest research and analytical techniques for project-level safety analysis. These techniques are becoming more sophisticated as the field of transportation safety advances. Crash data collection techniques have improved, new tools and protocols for analyzing crash data are available, and research on the effectiveness of safety improvement strategies has expanded. Furthermore, all states have a multidisciplinary transportation safety planning process in place.

However, not every stage of transportation project development fully reflects these advancements. This raises the question, has the NEPA process reached its potential value for shaping project-level decision-making? Few NEPA documents contain scientific safety analysis or reference research demonstrating that planned improvements will have a safety benefit. This document is intended to improve the consideration of safety issues in the NEPA process and documents.

Updated: 3/27/2012
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