The National Academies

NCHRP 25-23 [Completed]

Environmental Information Management and Decision Support System for Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $248,767
Research Agency: Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Judith H. Dotson
Effective Date: 5/19/2000
Completion Date: 8/19/2002

NCHRP Report 481, Environmental Information Management and Decision Support System: Implementation Handbook contains the results of research into environmental information management and decision support in multimodal transportation planning, programming, project development, operations, and maintenance. This report is focused on the current and future needs of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and other large transportation agencies.

Environmental decisions regarding transportation planning, project development, construction, operations, and maintenance are among the most difficult facing transportation decision makers. Factors include the complexity of technical issues; myriad laws and regulations at federal, state, and local levels; costs and time required for environmental reviews; a wide and disparate range of interested parties who are potentially affected; diversity of impacts and potential mitigation approaches; and scarcity of precise environmental and other critical data. In addition, agencies are not consistent in executing their respective mandates. All these factors combine to confound efforts to achieve timely consensus, compromise, and effective decisions. Current federal law requires state DOTs and MPOs to consider and reduce a wide range of environmental effects and impacts of transportation plans, programs, operations, and decisions. Furthermore, transportation decision makers are trying to provide maximum mobility while protecting important human and natural environmental resources. To achieve these important objectives, agencies and practitioners need cohesive and integrated systems to facilitate rational decisions through cost-effective coordination of environmental information and data management that can be tailored to critical decisions.

The objective of this project was to develop a system for environmental information management and decision support for transportation plans, programs, projects, operations, and maintenance activities. The EIM&DSS is intended to facilitate collecting, organizing, analyzing, archiving, and coordinating the information and data necessary to support technical and policy transportation decisions. It should also foster integration of environmental considerations into transportation decisions regarding overall policy development, systems planning, corridor planning, capital priority programming, project planning and development, permitting, ongoing compliance requirements, and so forth.

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., of McLean, Virginia, developed this concept for establishing environmental information management and decision support for transportation plans, programs, projects, operations, and maintenance activities. Presented as a handbook, this report provides practitioners with a step-by-step approach for implementing the EIM&DSS within a wide range of organizational settings and applications. As such, the handbook provides a strong foundation for the development, tailored application, and ongoing implementation of effective environmental management and stewardship in a transportation setting. This report should be useful to practitioners in state DOTs and MPOs, and to others concerned with planning, programming, and implementing transportation projects or managing the environmental mitigation actions and commitments of those agencies. The report will also be useful as an educational resource on the concepts, tools, and procedures for ongoing environmental stewardship within transportation agencies.

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