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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Office of Project Development and Environmental Review Research Fact Sheet

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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty supports and conducts research to improve transportation decision making and promote efficiency while protecting communities and the environment. The Office's research:

The following document highlights specific research activities in one of the office's five key areas. For more information, please visit

Office of Project Development & Environmental Review

FHWA's Office of Project Development & Environmental Review develops and implements programs and activities that advance environmental stewardship and streamlining for FHWA-funded projects, through the application of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) principles and the NEPA process.

Research Focus: The Office's research efforts' focus on improving the NEPA process to ensure a balanced and streamlined approach to transportation decision making. Research projects study how to protect and enhance human and natural resources, as well as meet the public's need for safe and efficient transportation improvements.

Research topics include:

The Office's research centers on methods that help to better plan projects, reduce their overall impacts, and improve associated mitigation options. Methodologies and tools like Eco-Logical, mitigation banking, and regional programmatic efforts are examples of current focus areas that will also be emphasized in the future.

Another research goal is to improve coordination and communication between the various State departments of transportation and their sister agencies, as well as the public, to ensure transparency and understanding of projects and ultimately create efficiencies in project review.

For more information, please contact Marcel Tchaou at 202-366-4196 or

Featured Research Activities

e-NEPA Tool - The Office of Project Development and Environmental Review has developed the e-NEPA collaboration tool. The tool allows State DOTs and other transportation agencies to share documents, track comments, schedule tasks with participating agencies, and perform concurrent reviews for Environment Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments. The national roll-out of the online e-NEPA tool followed a pilot phase where five states tested the tool in real-time. FHWA is also retaining rights to disseminate the tool to other Federal agencies such as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and U.S. Coast Guard to adapt to their particular NEPA processes. e-NEPA was also selected as an Every Day Counts initiative, and staff is presenting the tool to State DOTs across the country. HEP Staff Contact: Kreig Larson, 202-366-2056.

SELDM Model - The U.S. Geological Survey and FHWA worked in cooperation to develop the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) as a replacement for the FHWA runoff-quality model developed in the 1980's and published in 1990. SELDM calculates the risk of exceeding water quality criteria with and without user-defined best management practices (BMPs). SELDM calculates annual runoff loads and is able to do a simple annual lake-loading analysis. The model includes national data sets for highway-runoff quality, precipitation, stream-flow, runoff coefficients, and background water quality for use with the model. It uses Monte-Carlo methods to quantify the effects of precipitation characteristics, stream-flow, estimated runoff quantity and quality, and BMPs on the probability distribution of receiving water concentrations. SELDM can transform disparate and complex scientific data into meaningful information about the risk for adverse effects of runoff on receiving waters, the potential need for mitigation measures, and the potential effectiveness of such management measures for reducing these risks. SELDM also helps users develop planning-level estimates of event mean concentrations, flows and loads from a highway site and an upstream or lake basin. HEP Staff Contact: Susan Jones, 202-493-2139.

Updated: 1/31/2017
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