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Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) represent a collaborative and integrated approach to transportation decision making that considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the planning stage and uses the analysis developed during planning to inform project design and the environmental review process.
This can lead to better design and infrastructure investments by foreseeing and mitigating potential negative environmental impacts. By minimizing duplicated work, PEL can help deliver transportation projects faster and more efficiently. This can also prevent unexpected delay which occurs when negative environmental impacts are identified in the later stages of project delivery.
The Memphis MPO works to incorporate PEL into its transportation plans in consultation with our local, state, federal, and resource agency partners. The Livability 2050 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) includes data on natural, cultural, and community resources as well as land use patterns and environmental justice demographics.
For each proposed project in the RTP, the plan identifies which, if any, resources would be potentially impacted by the project and whether the project is in an environmental justice area with an above average proportion of minority persons, low-income persons, or persons with limited English proficiency (LEP). This screening process indicates the potential negative impacts of a project for early consideration and does not replace a project-level environmental review.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s NEPAssist is a free online tool that supports consideration of environmental issues in the planning process. This mapping application compiles EPA and other federal Geographic Information System (GIS) databases in location. This can be used to efficiently assess environmental factors in a project’s area of interest early on in project development.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s EJSCREEN aids agencies in addressing environmental justice by identifying areas with potential environmental quality issues, minority and/or low-income populations, or a combination of environmental and demographic indicators that is greater than usual. EJScreen can be used to quickly develop consistent demographic reports and maps for informational and planning purposes.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Information, Planning, and Consultation System (IPAC) is a project planning tool which streamlines the USFWS environmental review process. Government agencies and members of the public can use IPAC to determine if there are any potential effects on protected species in a project area. IPAC can also be used to develop an official determination of effect automatically based on the location and nature of a project.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) are heavily involved in the environmental review of transportation projects. By programmatic agreements with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), TDOT and MDOT take a leading role within their respective states in reviewing transportation projects with limited anticipated impacts under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).