When transportation agencies conduct planning
activities equipped with information about resource
considerations, they are better able to form programs
and projects that serve the community's transpor-
tation needs effectively. This provides the opportunity
to avoid and minimize impact on natural resources,
and enables effective environmental stewardship.
Resulting benefits include:
Eliminating potential duplication of planning
and NEPA processes, creating one cohesive flow.
Rational decision-making, considering the widest
view, and effective public expenditures.
Cooperation, collaboration, and leverage of what
each agency can do best, and do for each other.
More accurate project cost forecasting.
Greater predictability and tighter timeframes in
PEL results in benefits over the traditional analysis
of environmental issues in the project development
phase by providing an integrated approach to trans-
Is PEL Legally Required?
Current federal transportation law supports
PEL. U.S. Code Title 23, as amended by the Safe,
Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity
Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the federal
surface transportation act for years 2005-2009,
requires many activities previously considered "good
practice"--those that strengthen consideration of
environmental issues and impacts within the trans-
portation planning process and encourage the use of
planning products during NEPA.
SAFETEA-LU also ventures into new areas such as
asking for the use of visualization techniques and a
new level of dialogue and interaction with the public
(participation plans for stakeholder involvement) in
discovering, describing, and analyzing strategies.
Specifically, SAFETEA-LU Sections 3005, 3006, and
6001 require that:
The transportation planning process provides for
actions and strategies that protect and enhance
the environment, promote energy conservation,
improve the quality of life, and promote consis-
tency between transportation improvements and
state and local planned growth and economic
Statewide and metropolitan transportation plans
be developed in consultation with federal, state,
tribal, and local agencies responsible for land-use
management, natural resources, environ-
mental protection, conservation, and historic
This consultation involves a comparison of
transportation plans with state, tribal, and
local conservation plans, priorities, and maps,
if available; and with inventories of natural and
historic resources, if available; and
Transportation plans include a discussion of
potential environmental mitigation activities and
potential areas to carry out these activities.
Participation plans for stakeholder involvement and use
of visualization techniques to convey proposed strategies
are also discussed. The requirements are formalized in
the Statewide Transportation Planning; Metropolitan
Transportation Planning; Final Rule (23 CFR 450),
which details how results or decisions of transportation
planning studies may be used as part of the overall
project development process consistent with NEPA.