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Planning & Environment Linkages Implementation Resources

Linking Planning and NEPA

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

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Exhibit G
Highlights two inner rings of the PEL puzzle, representing transportation planning and NEPA. It shows five potential linkages between the transportation planning and NEPA processes including: 1. development of mitigation strategies in transportation planning and mitigation plans in NEPA, 2. identification of needs in planning and purpose and need in NEPA, 3. identification of solutions in planning and alternatives identification in NEPA, 4. solution assessment in planning and alternatives assessment in NEPA, and 5. adoption of long-range plan in planning and alternative selection in NEPA.

Government regulations strongly support the integration of the transportation planning process with the NEPA environmental review process. In fact, planning should rightly feed into NEPA. The regulations for implementing NEPA require integration with other planning at the earliest possible time in order to "insure planning and decisions reflect environmental values; avoid delays later in the process; and head off potential conflicts."15

Too often though, the environmental analysis produced during NEPA is disconnected from the analysis used to prepare transportation plans, transportation improvement programs, and supporting corridor or subarea studies. Thus, creating effective linkages between these two planning processes is crucial.

Exhibit G shows five potential linkages between these two processes. The middle, multicolor puzzle pieces show various stages in the transportation planning process where decisions are made-beginning with identifying transportation needs and moving clockwise around the PEL puzzle to end with developing mitigation strategies. The corresponding most-inner pieces of the puzzle show where planning information can be linked to the NEPA environmental review process-beginning with developing the Purpose & Need statement and moving clockwise around the puzzle to end with developing mitigation plans.16

15 Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, Section 1501.2.

16 This graphic does not show all the steps in these two processes. Rather, it shows specific steps where there is a PEL linkage.

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Updated: 12/3/2012
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