The National Academies

NCHRP 25-39 [Final]

Environmental Performance Measures for State Departments of Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: High Street Consulting
Principal Investigator: Joe Crossett
Effective Date: 8/15/2012
Completion Date: 5/8/2015

STATUS:  The revised final report has been published as NCHRP Report 809 Environmental Performance Measures for State Departments of Transportation and is available HERE.


Transportation performance management is an established and effective practice for building accountability and driving results in transportation agencies. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and others are actively engaged in determining how to implement performance-based management of surface transportation programs in state departments of transportation (DOTs). In 2004, the chief executive officers of the state DOTs established the NCHRP 20-24(37) project series in recognition of the potential for comparative performance measurement to help improve their organizations. Nationally, Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation have also expressed interest in incorporating performance measures in the identification and prioritization of federal investments in transportation infrastructure. A number of potential national comparative performance measures, including environmental performance measures, are suggested for further research in the NCHRP 20-24(37G) report "Technical Guidance for Deploying National Level Performance Measurements". Additional research is necessary to identify appropriate comparative environmental performance measures that can be used to support decision making by DOTs within the context of the federal aid highway program.


The objective of this research was to develop selected key environmental performance measures that can be integrated into a state DOT’s performance management program. Each performance measure should (1) be meaningful at a state level, (2) enable national comparisons, (3) be implementable in the near-term, and (4) contribute to informing investment decisions. Performance areas including but not limited to (1) air, (2) water, (3) materials, (4) recycling, (5) energy, (6) greenhouse gases, (7) biodiversity, and (8) habitat may be considered. Environmental performance measures to be evaluated should not include social and economic impacts, environmental justice, or cultural resources. This research will not involve a national comparative analysis of state DOT performance. The discussion of each potential performance measure include the following:
  • the definition and intent of each measure;
  • a calculation methodology;
  • graphical display options;
  • specific data needs for each calculation (e.g., data sources, data collection methods, and data quality and reliability standards);
  • method(s) for establishing a plausible baseline, rate of change, or other targets and long-term goals or thresholds; and
  • approaches for implementing the performance measures within DOT planning and programming, project development, project delivery, and operations and maintenance functions.

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