Environmental Planning


Planning and Environmental Linkages

All federally funded actions are required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law that requires that the consequences of a federal action are evaluated and measures to protect, restore and enhance the environment are given appropriate consideration in decisions regarding the action. In the past, long-range transportation planning studies have often ignored the requirements of NEPA, rendering the resulting planning decisions invalid for use in later NEPA studies. Additionally, transportation planners and NEPA practitioners have recognized that evaluating consequences early in the planning process offers the best opportunity to make informed decisions that minimize environmental impacts during the identification of alternative solutions. To better connect long-range planning with NEPA the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) has initiated the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) process. PEL allows the following types of long-range planning and environmental analysis to inform the preparation of subsequent NEPA documents:

  • Project purpose and need, including planning goals
  • Public and stakeholder involvement
  • Description of the environmental setting
  • Identification of general travel modes
  • Identification of a reasonable range of alternatives
  • Preliminary screening of alternatives and elimination of unreasonable alternatives
  • Recommendations for future studies, including mitigation strategies

The extent of a planning study may vary widely based on the type of project, the time horizon and the resources available to prepare the study. Some studies may only develop a project purpose and need and engage in public and stakeholder involvement. The full PEL process applies primarily to corridor and subarea planning. The weight that can be given to long-range planning decisions in subsequent NEPA studies depends on the level of analysis performed, whether the data remains relevant and how well the process and decisions were documented. Changes in project needs, growth patterns and development, and unseen impacts can also affect the validity of long-range planning decisions. For these reasons, there is no guarantee that what is decided by state and local entities in corridor/subarea planning will be accepted by the stakeholders or the public during NEPA. However, the PEL process enables potential problems to be addressed early, and many times early decisions and coordination can be directly incorporated into the NEPA process.

Contact Us

Ralph Ellis
Planning Section Manager
1611 W. Jackson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602.712.7973

Civil RightsTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at 602.712.8946 or at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.
  • De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad.  Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles al 602.712.8946 o en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.