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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-036    Date:  March 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-036
Date: March 2018


Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology Evaluation Final Report: Eco-Logical

Appendix E. 2015 IAP Peer Exchange

This appendix lists questions asked verbatim on October 14–15, 2015 by the evaluation team to peer exchange participants as well as summary responses. The questions were mounted on boards and answered with sticker dots or written in on Post-It notes. Informal conversations with attendees also contributed to data collection.

  1. What changes have you seen as a result of adopting an ecosystem approach?
  2. Stickers: Green = YES, Red = NO
Improvements MPO DOT
Faster project delivery 2Y; 1half/half 3Y; 1N
More transparency 3Y 4Y
Better relationships within agency 1Y; 1N 3Y; 1 half/half
Better relationships with partners 2Y; 1N 3Y; 1 half/half
Streamlined data 3Y 2Y; 1N; 1 half/half
Better environmental outcomes 1Y; 1half/half 4Y
  1. Which of these steps has your agency used to minimize or avoid potential environmental impacts of transportation projects?
  2. Stickers: Green = YES, Red = NO
Partner with other organizations 3Y 6Y
Integrate spatial data for natural resources, transportation, and land use 3Y 4Y; 2N
Look at different planning scenarios and outcomes based on current land use and transportation plans, and also alternatives 3Y 4Y; 2N
Evaluate the alternatives and select options with your partners that minimize environmental impacts 2Y; 1N 4Y; 1N
Develop a mitigation plan 1Y; 2N 7Y
Identified areas of land that can be used to mitigate impacts of projects taking into consideration ecosystem conservation/ different habitats 2Y; 1N 6Y
Outlined roles, responsibilities, and agreements at the project level, and performance standards for mitigation 2N; 1Y 5Y; 1N
Track ecological data in the sites that have been set aside for mitigation/ in the project area 3N 6Y

Y = yes and N = no.

  1. What have been your challenges in attempting to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation projects?
    (Write in with Post-It notes)
    • More value placed on human environment impacts versus natural resources.
    • Politicians and politics.
    • Politics.
    • Schedules.
    • Budgets (bridge versus culverts).
    • Purpose and need—sometimes fulfilling this makes impacts unavoidable.
    • Strong focus on regulatory framework, such as permitting process, which limits ability to implement creative solutions from a broader ecosystem perspective.
    • Lack clear direction from the 404 regulator ([State] DEQ) at times.
    • Lack of flexibility in using Federal funds for innovation—bureaucratic hoops—love the idea of FHWA HQ looking for solutions on interagency contracting.
    • Also need to allot enough time in project schedules for innovation.
  2. What would you want to see in the program for the future?
    (Write in with Post-It notes)
    • Webinars that are more technical instead of relaying basic information on topics.
    • For my State DOT:
      • More NEPA professionals involved in planning/feasibility studies.
      • Real environmental considerations in planning/feasibility.
  3. Board for non-adopters: Why has your agency not adopted the specific Eco-Logical Program?
    (Write in with Post-It notes)
    • Need reliable transportation funding source (more money).
    • Need more time for NEPA.
    • Lack of awareness of program.
    • Lack of exposure.
    • Lack of more in-depth technical assistance (webinars specifically).
    • Lack of upper management understanding and “buy-in.”
    • Disconnection between planning and environmental groups which limits collaboration and ability to implement Eco-Logical across entire agency.
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