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Planning & Environment Linkages Implementation Resources

Linking the Adopted Plan With Selected Alternatives

Note: This information was archived in April 2009. For the current information, see

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Another obvious linkage would be to tie the adopted transportation plan to the selection of alternatives under NEPA (see Exhibit K).

Exhibit K
Shows where adopted transportation plan in the planning process can be linked to the selection of alternatives under NEPA.

What Is the Linkage?

Comprehensive documentation of the process used and major decisions made during long-range transportation planning.

Why Make the Linkage?

By federal law, metropolitan planning organization boards are the ones to approve a fiscally constrained long-range plan. This plan reflects the community's consensus about the physical characteristics and service levels to be provided by the transportation system of the future. Beyond federal requirements, however, this long-range plan provides significant insight into the community's vision for the physical size, future land use, modes, and level of service for the future transportation system.

In air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas, it will also show the anticipated timing of major improvements recommended in the plan. The adopted local plan should be the starting point for anyone interested in linking planning to the environment at the project level (for transportation plans) or for other planning processes (open space, conservation, watershed, etc).

What to Consider?

Providing user friendly long-range planning documentation in sufficient detail that will allow planners and engineers to use long-range planning data and analysis to incorporate locally preferred alternatives into the alternatives selected for detailed study during NEPA.

What Data Informs This Linkage?

The adopted long-range plan is the culmination of the planning process. The plan documents the decisions by the policy makers on the locally preferred alternative for both the overall future transportation system and for individual projects, or services in the case of some modes. The data that informs these decisions has been created throughout the planning process. At this point, the primary purpose of the linkage is to document the relevant information in a form that makes it accessible to project planners. The locally preferred alternatives included in the adopted plan are based on significant technical analysis, stakeholder input, and public debate and should be respected as an alternative selected for detailed analysis during NEPA.

Analysis and Documentation

The key to successful linkage is the development of usable documentation. Documentation should be created at each step in the planning process at a level that is useful and transferable to project planners. This documentation can be included in technical appendices or summary working papers that can be provided electronically or in paper form to project planners.

However, the information provided in the adopted long-range plan should be sufficient for anyone, including the public, to understand both the endorsed alternatives and the rationale for their selection. This could include:

What Decisions Help Make the Linkage?

The Policy Board adopts the long-range plan. This adoption allows this linkage to occur.

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Updated: 12/3/2012
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