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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC-1: Planning and Environment Linkages Questionaire

Criteria for Determining PEL Questionnaire Equivalents

FHWA acknowledges that several States have already developed processes and tools comparable to the PEL Questionnaire. The criteria were developed to identify and recognize equivalent approaches. An equivalent approach is a process that fulfills a similar purpose as the PEL Questionnaire to explain the requirements transportation planning products must have to be incorporated into the NEPA process.

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Questionnaire is an adaptation of a questionnaire jointly developed by the Colorado Department of Transportation and FHWA Colorado Division Office in order to ensure that planning information and decisions are properly documented to be utilized in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FHWA acknowledges that several States have already developed processes and tools comparable to the PEL Questionnaire, and sets forth the criteria below for identifying and recognizing equivalent approaches.

An equivalent approach is a process and/or consultation technique that fulfills a similar purpose as the PEL Questionnaire to determine the requirements transportation planning products must have to be incorporated into the NEPA process. To be considered an equivalent approach, the process and/or tool must satisfy the following criteria:

Criteria 1:

The equivalent should be institutionalized within the department (i.e. it is a formal process or tool available statewide).

Criteria 2:

The equivalent must provide information on how to consider and document the following:

  1. The early and continuous coordination with Federal, Tribal, State, and local transportation, environmental, regulatory, and resource agencies.
  2. Coordination efforts with the public and stakeholders.
  3. Description of planning scope, vision statement, and steps needed to scale the vision statement to a project-level purpose and need statement.
  4. Alternatives that were considered, selected and rejected; criteria and process used for selecting and rejecting alternatives.
  5. Explanation of planning assumptions, including forecast year, traffic volumes, policy, and data as well as consistency of those planning assumptions with the long-range transportation plan.

States Using Equivalent Approaches


State Title Equivalence Criteria Met
Required (1 and 2) Recommended (3)
1 2a 2b 2c 2d 2e 3a 3b 3c 3d
Arkansas Arkansas Preliminary Environmental Review (PER) X X X X X X X X    
Florida Efficient Transportation Decision Making Process X X X X X X X X X  
Louisiana Louisiana DOTD Program Development and Project Delivery System Manual X X X X X X X X X X
Massachusetts Project Development & Design Guide X X X X X X X     X
Montana Business Process to Link Planning Studies and NEPA Reviews X X X X X X X X   X
New Jersey NJDOT Project Delivery Process X X X X X X X     X
New Mexico Design Directive – Project Development Process – Planning and Environmental Linkage X X X X X X        
North Carolina North Carolina PEL Process X X X X X X X X X  
Pennsylvania Design Manual 1 [DM1] – Project Delivery Process (Process) and the Regional Long Range Transportation Guidance (Guidance) X X X X X X X X X X
South Carolina Advanced Project Planning Report (APPR) Process X X X X X X X     X
Tennessee Tennessee Environmental Streamlining Agreement X X X X X X X X   X
Utah Utah PEL Analysis Tool (uPEL) X X X X X X X      
Page last modified on March 26, 2018
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000