Mn/DOT Environmental Stewardship Workshop Linking Planning, Process, and Stewardship

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 10:00am
United States


8:30 - 8:40 a.m.


Frank Pafko, Director, Office of Environmental Stewardship, Mn/DOT

8:40 - 9:15 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Jon Chiglo, Director, Engineering Services Division, Mn/DOT
Derrell Turner
, Division Administrator, FHWA Minnesota Division
Moderator: Frank Pafko, Mn/DOT 

9:15 - 10:15 a.m.

Keynote: The Meaning of Stewardship

Scott Bradley, Director of Context Sensitive Solutions, Mn/DOT 
Moderator: Frank Pafko, Mn/DOT
This presentation explored the meaning of stewardship within the setting of delivering transportation programs. The rationale behind the formation of the Office of Environmental Stewardship was explained, as well as the relationship and interconnection of Context Sensitive Solutions, Performance-Based Solutions, Complete Streets and other departmental initiatives.

10:30 - 11:25 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session 1: Exploring Performance-Based Solutions and Design Flexibility

Scott Bradley, Mn/DOT 
Greg Ous, Mn/DOT
Moderator: Frank Pafko, Mn/DOT 
Performance-Based Solutions is an emerging approach being used by Mn/DOT in planning and design in order to balance competing objectives, optimize return on investments, and improve project and system-level performance. This approach includes exploration of solutions, including design flexibility and “right-sized” projects, which are not constrained by overly conservative planning and design standards and approaches. This session included examples of how these approaches have been or can be incorporated into Mn/DOT projects.

Session 2: Purpose and Need

Dave Gamble, FHWA, Baltimore 
Jennie Ross, Mn/DOT 
Moderator: Gary Reihl, Mn/DOT 
Defining the project purpose and need (or problem statement) is the foundation of the project development process. The description of the problems that need to be addressed by a proposed project is the basis for establishing and containing project scope and for defining and evaluating alternatives. Despite its importance, many project managers and others involved in project development do not have a complete understanding of how to develop and write a need statement. This session covered the essentials of writing a good purpose and need statement and gave examples specific to Minnesota.

Session 3: Current Issues in Air and Noise 
Upcoming NAAQS Changes and Transportation Planning Impacts

Catherine Neuschler, MPCA 
Moderator: John Sampson, Mn/DOT 
USEPA is currently in the process of reviewing and updating the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards). This session informed participants on the state of the air quality in Minnesota, EPA's schedule for NAAQS updates, and the air quality and transportation planning requirements associated with SIP development and conformity determinations.

Mn/DOT Noise Policy

Marilyn Jordahl-Larson, Mn/DOT
Peter Wasko, Mn/DOT Metro District
Mn/DOT has updated their noise policy as required by the new federal rule governing 23 CFR 772. This session reviewed the new requirements of the rule, expected dates of final noise policy approval, and upcoming training and implementation, as well as additional contacts and important resources for planners, project managers, and noise analysts.

12:30 - 1:25 p.m.  

Concurrent Sessions

Session 4: Purpose and Need

(same as Session 2 above)

Session 5: Planning and Environmental Linkages

Lorrie Lau, FHWA, San Francisco
Moderator: Lynne Bly, Mn/DOT
This session provided a broad overview of the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) approach to transportation planning that is being promoted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The goal of PEL is to create planning-level decisions that minimize duplication of effort, promote environmental stewardship, and reduce delay from planning through to project implementation. PEL lays the foundation for building consensus on transportation goals/priorities, as well as developing and evaluating alternatives for corridor or sub-area planning studies.

Session 6: New Approaches to Defining and Addressing Safety Needs

Brad Estochen, Mn/DOT
Jack Broz, HR Green Company
Moderator: Cassandra Isackson, Mn/DOT
Safety concerns are often an important component of project purpose and need statements. This session discussed how data, tools, and methods are evolving to support comprehensive safety analysis that goes beyond just reporting accident rate statistics. These tools can be used to better define existing and potential future safety problems, leading to development of better solutions. Case study examples of project applications were also presented.

1:30 - 2:25 p.m. 

Concurrent Sessions

Session 7: NEPA and Fiscal Constraint

Susan Moe, FHWA, MN
Lorrie Lau, FHWA, San Francisco
Philip Forst, FHWA, MN
Moderator: Jennie Ross, Mn/DOT
NEPA and Fiscal Constraint is a policy that clarifies when FHWA may take a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) action regarding a proposed project. This session provided information on how the “NEPA and Fiscal Constraint” policy is being implemented nationally and in Minnesota, including when it applies, primary contacts for information and decision making, study/documentation alternatives, and FHWA participation in non-NEPA studies.

Session 8: Current Issues in Water Resources

Kelly Urbanek, US Army Corps of Engineers
Sarma Straumanis, Mn/DOT
Peter Leete, MN DNR
Moderator: Nick Tiedeken, Mn/DOT
This session included presentations of topical issues related to water resources, including an introduction to a new Corps of Engineers’ guidance manual for Section 404 permit applications for transportation projects, issues and guidance related to MN/DNR Waters permits, and other current issues related to waster resources regulatory requirements and permitting.

Session 9: FHWA Guidance on Travel and Land Use Forecasting in NEPA

Eric Pihl, FHWA
Moderator: Jonette Kreideweis, Mn/DOT
This session covered national and state experience in travel demand forecasting. It also featured a discussion of the March 2010 Interim Guidance on the Application of Travel and Land use Forecasting in NEPA and how it applies to state and MPO projects.

2:45 - 3:40 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session 10: Planning and Environmental Linkages

(same as Session 5 above)

Session 11: Section 4(f)

Dave Gamble, FHWA, Baltimore
Moderator: Jennie Ross, Mn/DOT
Section 4(f) in environmental review addresses protection of publically owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and historic sites from conversion to transportation uses. The session focused on the required content of Section 4(f) evaluations, focusing especially on the “feasible and prudent” standard and “least harm analysis.”

Session 12: Demographic and Freight Data for Environmental Analysis

Todd Graham, Metropolitan Council
Dave Christianson, Mn/DOT
Moderator: Jonette Kreideweis, Mn/DOT
This session addressed demographic and freight data considerations important to documenting purpose and need and conducting environmental analysis. Todd Graham shared information on how available demographic data sources can be useful in understanding population trends and characteristics. In addition, Dave Christianson suggested ways to incorporate freight issues and needs in the environmental review process and possible data sources to support more robust analysis.

3:45 - 4:40 p.m. 

Concurrent Sessions

Session 13: Mn/DOT Strategic Initiatives

Chris Moates, Mn/DOT
Cindy Carlsson, Mn/DOT
Moderator: Sara Aultman, Mn/DOT
Strong collaboration between agency partners and education of the public concerning municipal consent and the NEPA process are key aspects of preparing and gaining approval for eventual construction of projects. The Ombudsman's Office had two cases in the last year that looked at the study and municipal consent processes in conjunction with issues raised by key corridor stakeholders who opposed the projects and the need for more public education in this area.

Session 14: Integrating Cultural Resources and NEPA

Garneth Peterson, Mn/DOT
Jackie Sluss, Mn/DOT
Moderator: Joe Hudak, Mn/DOT
This session focused on helping applicants better coordinate cultural resources reviews and bridge rehab studies with preparation of NEPA documents. Two staff members from Mn/DOT’s Cultural Resources Unit (CRU) offered suggestions on navigating Section 106 review and also discussed CRU’s current efforts to define the process for bridge rehab studies.

Session 15: Travel Demand Model Uses and Obtaining Supporting Data—A Practitioners Panel

Phil Wheeler, Rochester Council of Governments
Mark Filipi, Metropolitan Council
Katie White, Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments
Paul Morris, SRF Consulting Group
Moderator: Mark Flinner, Mn/DOT
A practitioners’ panel of small- and large-sized MPO representatives discussed selected best practices in forecasting and travel demand modeling. The session included a discussion of the Metropolitan Council’s Travel Behavior Inventory (TBI) and how model outputs have contributed to air quality and other NEPA related studies. Other topics included uses of model outputs to contribute to scenario and micro-simulation analysis and how local land-use data can provide useful information about household characteristics.


This event is sponsored by the Mn/DOT Offices of Environmental Stewardship,Transportation Data & Analysis, and Statewide Multimodal Planning and facilitated by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.