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Chapter 2
Organizational Environmental Stewardship Practices
2.6. Measuring Environmental Performance

The use of performance measures is steadily increasing at the federal and state level. [N] Forty percent of the agencies in 39 states responding in a national survey reported that performance measures are being utilized in over half of their department; an additional 33 percent said they employed performance measures agency-wide and planned to increase their use of performance measures in the next one to four years. [N] Use of performance measures continues to expand as such measures facilitate evaluation of program effectiveness and communication and decision-making among management.

In his work, Getting Performance Measures to Measure Up, Allan Schick says "the great mistake of the performance measurement industry is the notion that an organization can be transformed by measuring its performance….This optimism is not justified, for organizations - public and private alike - can assimilate or deflect data on performance without making significant changes in behavior. Performance information can affect behavior only if it is used, and it is used only when there are opportunities and incentives to do so…(i.e.) organizational change has to precede, not follow, performance measurement." [N] Essentially, the "why" must come and sufficient opportunity must arise before "how" comes into play. Strategic planning and quality improvement programs seek to provide the larger context and driver for measurable improvement in performance.

The central function of any performance measurement process is to provide regular, valid data on indicators of performance outcomes; however performance measures should also include information that helps managers measure the incoming workload and gain insight into causes of the outcomes. [N] Performance measurement also allows an organization to express the intent of its strategy and how that strategy connects with everyday operations. Such systems create an essential feedback and learning mechanism in support of key management decisions. [N]

Special Challenges with Environmental Measures

As noted in the April 2000 GAO Report on Managing for Results: EPA Faces Challenges in Developing Results-Oriented Performance Goals and Measures, the limited availability of data on environmental conditions and the effects of pollutants is a major challenge in establishing a relationship between a program's activities and resulting changes in the environment. [N] For many DOTs, one of the biggest obstacles is lack of data on the environment and the expense of collecting it, from just knowing what is there to having the resources or incentive to perform water quality monitoring at outfalls. The long-term nature of environmental programs means that data needed to illustrate effectiveness or for annual performance goals and measures is often not available.

While a few DOTs have maintained that it is the resource agency's job to collect this data and make it available, usually DOTs go through an expensive primary data collection process to evaluate impacts, on a project-by-project basis. Some have funded or participated in funding entire statewide data layers for resources of interest, in order to facilitate earlier review and higher-level inferences regarding what resources are present, could be impacted, and should be avoided where possible. According to the author's survey, about one seventh of state transportation agencies have invested in DOT-led identification of high quality natural resources. These states include Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, and South Carolina. A similar number say they have delineated wetlands programmatically, statewide ( Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina). Specifically, NJDOT provided funding to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to assist with a project to map wetlands statewide( [N] while Florida DOT developed a university partnership to create and manage/maintain data layers of interest to the DOT. [N]

Individual Performance Accountability

Performance measures can track what the agency wants and needs from its stakeholders, especially employees. Many DOTs utilize so-called performance measures to indicate whether a specific objective outlined in a quarterly or annual performance plan has been achieved. Often these program outputs are merely whether an action has been performed or not, such as development of an environmental guidebook or procedure. In some cases they involve achievement of a specific level of performance relative to an established benchmark or operational target. More elaborate performance measures are often utilized in new positions funded at resource agencies to account for the effectiveness and worth of the agency's allocation of resources in this new area. [N]

NYSDOT established a comprehensive evaluation system for new Construction and Maintenance Environmental Coordinators (see Staffing section), to build support for the positions within the agency, ensure that the positions were utilized for the intended purpose, are providing requested services (outputs), and are addressing internal stakeholder needs.

A number of states have incorporated environmental accountability into annual performance evaluation for more than new environmental positions, to add incentive for improved environmental performance and, indirectly, greater satisfaction for external stakeholders. Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah have indicated they have incorporated environmental performance into annual evaluation of design staff. [N] Arizona has added environmental performance evaluation for their maintenance staff as well. Indiana, New York, Utah, and Virginia note they do so for both construction and maintenance, while Montana does so for construction staff only. [N] A longer list of states do not incorporate environmental outcomes into annual evaluations, but recognize outstanding performance or environmental outcomes where they occur. [N]

Table 5 : State DOTs Recognizing Outstanding Environmental Work

DOTs providing individual recognition for outstanding environmental work in:

Planning

CA, DC, DE, FL, IL, IN, MD, MI, NC, OH, PR, TX, WY

Design

CA, CO, DE, FL, IL, IN, MD, MI, MS, NC, NM, NV, NY, OH, PA, UT, WA, WI, and WY

Construction

CO, DE, FL, IL, IN, MD, NM, NY, PA, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY

Maintenance

CO, DE, FL, IL, IN, MD, NY, UT, WI, and WY

 

2.6.1 Program Measures for DOT Environmental Process Improvement Efforts, EMS, and Strategic Plans
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All state transportation agencies, including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have implemented process improvements or new practices designed to enhance environmental performance. [N] Half of state transportation agencies have implemented environmental advisory teams - comprised of a combination of partners and stakeholders at federal and state agencies and even consulting firms - to identify opportunities for streamlining and process improvements. [N] Often, the process improvement efforts outpace the development of measures to formally track and report progress. However, some of these improvement processes establish objectives that can then be measured or followed to ensure that the desired improvements occur. Some examples follow.

Six Pillars at Oregon DOT

State DOTs often use a method similar to performance evaluation for individuals on a program level; i.e. whether a number of one-time action items are completed during the reporting period and ongoing action items are completed on time and within budget during the reporting period. Stakeholder satisfaction remains an underlying purpose. For example, Oregon DOT will at least partially evaluate the progress of their CETAS/6 Pillars Program on whether desired the desired six programs come into existence, including creation of a habitat bank, implementation of resource mapping, and establishment of a working relationship with Forest Services and BLM.

Phase II of the CETAS process will utilize metrics to analyze a sample of projects with higher potentials for environmental impacts:

  • Improving perceptions of people involved in environmental process
  • Number of state highway miles with up-to-date natural resource maps relative to total that need mapping
  • Number of culverts retrofitted for salmon relative to total needed
  • Acres of habitat loss (used as a surrogate for predicted or potential project impacts)
  • Predicted avoided, minimized, and mitigated impacts
  • Acres of wetlands to be restored (indicating project mitigation and permit conditions)
  • Number and acreage of mitigation projects successfully completed
  • Actual project impacts
  • ODOT and CETAS agency staff perceptions

New York State DOT Initiative Tracking and Participation in State Pollution Prevention Audits

New York State DOT (NYSDOT) has focused on generating buy-in and rapid organizational re-orientation, having made a pronounced, agency-wide commitment to environmental stewardship, protection and enhancement of the environment wherever opportunities exist, rather than just where mitigation is required. As such, NYSDOT has mainstreamed the agency's environmental ethic into a new way of doing business in planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations.

Each of the 11 NYSDOT Regions and most of the Main Office Functional Units have an action plan for their program to track progress toward the Environmental Initiatives' major objectives. The regional and program-specific action plans identify tasks to advance the plan's main objectives, responsible parties, completion dates, and reporting mechanisms. NYSDOT's Environmental Initiative activities are tracked at both the project and program level statewide. Utilizing the Department's automated Project and Program Management Information System (P/PMIS), program managers select Environmental Initiative attributes for any particular project as part of a general work type. This allows for the tracking and management of Environmental Initiative work related to the Department's capital construction program and maintenance activities. [N]

In addition to tracking whether opportunities are being captured via the number of partnership projects or degree of partnering that is occurring, whether training and piloting new approaches is occurring and where environmental elements are being incorporated into projects, NYSDOT also participates in state pollution prevention audits. These audits, focused on state laws, primarily track incidents of spills, water quality, and air violations and report performance trends.

NYSDOT has measured the progress they have made toward environmental stewardship by a number of organizational and procedural milestones. These accomplishments have included garnering high level leadership and a mandate, an agency-specific environmental mission, goals and Environmental Stewardship Action plans with monthly progress reports in each unit of the agency. Revised guidance and procedures on implementing environmental stewardship goals, and training and outreach materials on the initiative have also been implemented and tracked.

Maine DOT's EMS Performance Measures

Performance measures currently being tracked for the Maine DOT's EMS include:

  • Number of violations of environmental and OSHA standards at Maine DOT facilities (standard is zero violations).
  • Percent closure of corrective actions from audits within 12 months (standard is 100 percent).
  • All facilities audited every 3 years.

North Carolina DOT's Delegated Sediment and Erosion Control Program

North Carolina DOT (NCDOT) has its own sediment and erosion control program, with regulation and enforcement delegated by the N.C. Sedimentation Control Committee and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). NCDOT prepares, reviews, and approves its own sediment and erosion control plans for land-disturbing activities associated with highway construction and maintenance and self-monitors to ensure department compliance with program requirements. NCDOT also evaluates and rates levels of field implementation. NCDOT Roadside Environmental units continuously track field compliance with the delegation agreement, in particular:

  • Program outcomes
  • Number of Immediate Corrective Actions issued to project staff
  • Number of Notices of Violation issued to NCDOT

These measures are of great interest to DENR and the Sediment Control Commission, which review the delegated program on an annual basis. WisDOT is working on a similar continuous improvement process for the state's TRANS 401, which regulates erosion control and stormwater management for WisDOT projects.

New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department Environmental Measures

The New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department ( NMSHTD) has affirmed a commitment to be environmentally responsible in the agency's vision statement, to be implemented through open, collaborative, ongoing involvement by the public and agencies in the agency's project development process and a commitment to not only protect but to enhance resources and community values. Engineering and environmental staff evaluate each project for which EISs, EAs, or complex categorical exclusions are prepared, on a scale of 1 to 3 for each project (maximum score = 15) once a year. Projects are classified as follows: 13-15 = high, 9 - 12 = medium, 5 - 8 = low. The five criteria are:

  1. Public Involvement - Was the public involvement program multifaceted, proactive, responsive, and innovative?
  2. Community Impacts - Were community values enhanced, left whole or reduced?
  3. Resource Impacts and Mitigation - Were natural and cultural resources enhanced, left whole or reduced?
  4. Agency Coordination - Was agency coordination multifaceted, proactive, responsive, and innovative?
  5. Decision Process - Were alternatives considered openly and collaboratively with stakeholders?

NMSHTD tracks the percentage of projects in each category and progress toward raising the bar. The Department has collected information for over four years. The effort is similar to NYSDOT's in that it has been relatively non-threatening to program staff, since they are doing the evaluating. The agency may collect other agency and stakeholder input on performance according to their environmental responsibility goal in the future.

New Brunswick DOT, Canada, Environmental Measures

New Brunswick DOT's Environmental Protection Plan commits the agency to monitor and measure the following few areas:

  • The number of employees educated/trained in the protection of the environment and the quality of those initiatives.
  • Environmental protection activities at DOT facilities.
  • Progress in the implementation of road salt management initiatives.
  • Progress in environmental planning for proposed highway projects that fall under environmental impact assessment (EIA) legislation.

Pennsylvania DOT SEMP Maintenance Performance Measures

Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT)'s goal is that transportation development and operations should be sustainable; i.e. have minimal negative effects on the environment. Supporting that goal, PennDOT is developing and implementing a program to analyze environmental impacts on the corridor level and to integrate, promote, and practice environmental stewardship throughout the Department. PennDOT's general performance indicators include measures of time and cost savings, quality measures of products and services delivered, indicators of greater stakeholder trust, and whether process standardization and delegations of environmental responsibility are achieved. Within Maintenance and where EMSs are in place, PennDOT uses the following performance measures pertaining to the environment.

Example 2 : PennDOT Maintenance Performance Measures Pertaining to Environment

Snow Removal
Salt Usage per Snow Lane Mile (lbs ) 250 lbs.
Percent of Material (salt, skid ) Deliveries with Penalty <10%

Highway and Roadside Beautification
Rest Area and Other QA Results (Avg. Scores ) >4.0
Percent of Interstate Mowing Plan (July 4th ) Milestones Met 80-90%
Percent of System Mowing Plan (Aug. 15th ) Milestones Met 80-90%
Percent of Weekly Litter & Debris Pick-ups on Interstates and Look-a-Likes Milestones Met 75-90%
Percent of Deer Carcass Pick-ups within 24 hours 70-90%
Stockpile QA Results (Avg. Scores )* >4.0

Environments/Stewardship
Percent of Projects with No Permit Violations 100%
Percent of District SEMP Milestones Met 70-100%
Percent of SEMP Team's Milestones Met 80-100%
Number of Counties meeting Stockpile Gold/Silver Award Criteria 5

Total Quality Management
Percent Completion of Business Plan Items 25
Percent of Gap Closure Processes (SAGA/ORP ) Milestones Met 80%
# of Process Improvements completed on process maps 80%

*For more on Stockpile quality assurance and associated measures, see Chapter 6, Maintenance Facilities Management.

WSDOT's Maintenance Accountability Process and Environmental Factors

WSDOT has developed a Maintenance Accountability Process (MAP) tool and field manual to measure and communicate the outcomes of maintenance activities and to link strategic planning, the budget, and maintenance service delivery. Twice a year, field inspections are made of randomly selected sections of highway during which the condition of all highway system features is assessed. The results are measured, recorded and compared to the MAP criteria to determine the level of service (LOS) delivered. Protocols for conducting MAP field surveys are found in the Fall 2006 Field Data Collection Manual. LOS is put in terms of a letter grade scale from "A" (best LOS) to "F" (worst LOS).

Results are summarized annually and compared to LOS targets that are established each biennium. These targets are commensurate with the biennial maintenance program budget. An example of a LOS rating report is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 : Sample WSDOT Annual Maintenance Accountability Process Results

Figure 1: Sample WSDOT Annual Maintenance Accountability Process Results - thumbnail

*View Figure 1: Sample WSDOT Annual Maintenance Accountability Process Results

Further details about the methodology of measurement in these areas follow:

Drainage Ditches

Units of Measure: Total linear feet of ditch, per 0.10 mile section ; total linear feet of filled ditch, per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Count as deficient all ditches which are 50 percent or more full.

Methodology: Measure all ditches within the section and record the total linear feet of ditches. Measure and record the linear feet of ditch that is 50 percent or more full of sediment or other material.

For purposes of this survey, to be considered a ditch the structure must be designed and constructed to carry water - not a natural swale, or must be maintained as a ditch by Maintenance.

Comments: Streams adjacent to the roadway are not considered ditches. Standing water (tidal or non-tidal) in ditches is not a deficiency. Vegetation growing in the ditch is not a deficiency. Ditches designed solely to capture rock fall shall not be considered a ditch for this survey. [N]

Culverts

Unit of Measure: Total number of culverts, per 0.10 mile section. Total number of culverts greater than or equal to 50 percent filled or otherwise deficient, per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Count as deficient if:

  1. Any portion of the culvert is 50 percent or more filled with sediment or debris, or
  2. Any end is significantly crushed or deformed, or
  3. The volume of the inflow or outflow is reduced 50 percent or more by obstructions such as rocks, vegetation, or woody debris, or
  4. The pipe is separated 1" or more, or damaged in a way that the function of the culvert is causing significant damage to the roadway prism or adjacent drainage channel.

Methodology: Count and record all culverts within the section. Count and record any culvert that is 50 percent or greater filled or otherwise deficient. Evaluate only those culverts that cross state highways or county roads at their intersection with state highways. Do not count culverts under private access roads.

Comments: Vegetation obscuring the end of a culvert is not a deficiency unless it obstructs the flow of water. Standing water (tidal or non-tidal) in ditches is not a deficiency. Culverts designed to be half filled with gravel for fish habitat should not be rated as deficient. [N]

Catch Basins / Inlets

Inlet Pipe, Outlet Pipe, Flow Line, Elevation, Catch Basin or Grate Inlet, Grate Ground Elevation, Silt Storage, Capacity Varies

Units of Measure: Total number of catch basins and drain inlets, per 0.10 mile section; total number of catch basins and drain inlets that are deficient.

Threshold: Count as deficient any catch basin or drain inlet that has:

  1. 50 percent or more of the inlet grate blocked with debris, or
  2. The catch basin has sediment buildup that reaches or exceeds the flow line elevation of the outlet pipe.

Methodology: Count and record the total number of catch basins and drain inlets in the section. Count and record the number of catch basins and drain inlets blocked by debris or catch basins filled with sediment.

Comments: Both catch basins and drain inlets are rated for blockage of the inlet grate. Only catch basins are rated for sediment build-up. A flashlight and/or probe may be needed to determine if the structure is a catch basin (i.e., has silt storage capacity) and whether it is deficient. [N]

Slope Failures

Unit of Measure: Total number of slope failures, per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Only count as deficient a slide or erosion that is at the time of the inspection:

  1. Jeopardizing the structural integrity of the shoulder or traveled lane(s), or
  2. Blocking the shoulder or traveled lane(s), or blocking the ditch, or
  3. Jeopardizing the structural integrity of guardrail or traffic signs.

Traffic may move slower through the area or lanes may be reduced, causing intermittent stoppages. Erosion or slides not meeting the thresholds above shall not be considered deficient.

Methodology: Determine and record the total number of slope failures found within the survey section. Both fill and cut slopes can be affected. [N]

Comments: Chronic or ongoing slope failures that do not meet the criteria listed above at the time of the survey are not to be counted as failures. Edge drop-off is not considered a slope failure. [N]

Noxious Weeds - Weed Infestation

Units of Measure: Total square feet of infestation, per 0.10 mile section .

Threshold: Presence of noxious weeds on the roadside.

Methodology: Survey the roadside and determine the presence of any noxious weeds. Measure the square feet of the infestation; the total square feet of infestation should not exceed the total square feet of roadside.

Comments: Identifying noxious weeds can be difficult and is best done by a person trained in weed identification. For assistance in identifying noxious weeds consultation with the area roadside or spray crew is recommended. [N]

Nuisance Vegetation - Weed Infestation

Units of Measure: Total square feet of infestation, per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Presence of nuisance vegetation on the roadside.

Methodology: Survey the roadside and determine the presence of any nuisance vegetation. Measure the square feet of the infestation; the total square feet of infestation should not exceed the total square feet of roadside.

Comments: Identifying nuisance vegetation can be difficult and is best done by a person trained in weed identification. For assistance in identifying nuisance weeds consultation with the area roadside or spray crew is recommended. [N]

Vegetation Obstruction

Unit of Measure: Total number of vegetation obstructions per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Vegetation blocking sight distance to guide or regulatory signs, or intersections as seen from the driver's perspective.

Methodology: Measure and record total number of instances where vegetation obstructs sight distance to signs or intersections. For example, if a survey site has two blocked signs and one blocked intersection the surveyor shall record 3 vegetation obstructions on the survey form.

Comments: For the purpose of judging adequate site distance for this survey, signs and intersections should be visible from minimum distances of 800 feet for freeways, 500 feet for rural roads, and 200 feet for urban roads. [N]

Litter

Unit of Measure: Total number of litter counted, per 0.10 mile section.

Threshold: Objects approximately 4 inches in any dimension or larger.

Methodology: Observe and record all litter 4 inches and greater. [N]

 

2.6.2 Measuring Environmental Outcomes
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Measuring environmental outcomes is a relative rarity at state transportation agencies, partially due to the difficulties with environmental data discussed previously. All state DOTs track the acres of wetlands impacted and acres of compensatory mitigation, to report to FHWA. Some states subdivide this information by type of mitigation, type of wetland, or by watershed.

Washington State DOT's Success Standards for Wetlands Restoration

Washington DOT tracks the number and total acreage of wetland impacts and mitigation projects in the areas of wetland creation, restoration, enhancement, preservation, and upland buffers. Washington State DOT has taken the further step of establishing interim and final success standards for replacement wetlands, including the presence of a functioning hydrological system and saturated soil conditions, vegetation characteristics of native plant species, and wildlife habitat diversity, which will be described in greater detail below. Washington DOT has integrated Environmental Performance reporting into its Quarterly Publication, "The Gray Notebook."

NCDOT's Ecosystem Enhancement Program

NCDOT's Ecosystem Enhancement Program, operated cooperatively with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is considering tracking the following environmental outcome measures:

  • Number of acres of priority conservation areas acres protected annually by EEP (also contributing to NC's "Million Acres" Program, now "One North Carolina Naturally").
  • Amount of watershed improvement achieved after five or more years through appropriate measures.
  • Number of acres of wetlands, riparian and non-riparian, and feet of riparian areas (cold, cool, and warm) impacted and replaced.
  • Percentage of watersheds enhanced.
  • Replacement of all functions lost to impacts from transportation projects (replacement unit less impacted unit is greater than or equal to zero).

Functional replacement will also be assessed and a rapid assessment technique is being developed, to help assess the percentage of successful projects

 

2.6.3 Utilizing a Combination of Program and Environmental Indicators
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Maryland State Highway Administration Environmental Outcome & Program Performance Measures

MDSHA is using a combination of program measures, outlined in section 2.2, Setting Objectives and Targets & Tracking Environmental Commitments. Program and process measures which can be expected to yield quantifiable environmental benefits in some cases include MDSHA's targets of meeting 100 percent of environmental commitments on construction projects and achieving 100 percent compliance in implementation of erosion and sedimentation control plans. The agency also has program, progress indicators such as achieving an incompliance rating on their NPDES permit and implementing certain percentages of upgrades in stormwater and industrial facilities by 2006 and 2010.

Washington State DOT's Environmental Indicators and Public Reporting

Washington State DOT is seeking to measure environmental outcomes directly through their wetlands replacement success evaluation effort. In 2000 and 2001 biologists monitored 62 WSDOT project sites ranging from one to eight years in age according to 240 individual measurable standards, including area of buffer width around the entire wetland, whether habitat for target species has been created, species diversity, food chain support, area of stream shaded by vegetation, and area of shrub or forest cover. Such standards are comprised of "an observable or measurable benchmark for a particular performance objective, against which the mitigation project can be compared. If the standards are met, the related performance objectives are considered to have been successfully achieved." [N] Contingency measures specify corrective action that will be implemented if a stated standard is not met within a specified period of time. Like most other DOTs, WSDOT also tracks compensatory sites for which monitoring is complete and wetlands that are still being monitored. Of the latter, WSDOT tracks those that are meeting some, all, or no standards at the current time.

WSDOT is also seeking to measure a variety of environmental outcomes along with program outputs and intermediate outcomes. In addition to WSDOT's wetlands replacement success evaluation and cost-benefit efforts discussed earlier, the agency is measuring:

  • Construction site erosion control
  • Fish passage improvements
    • Number of culverts retrofitted for fish passage improvement
    • Number of barriers removed as a major construction projects
  • Recycled materials beneficial use
  • Herbicide use
  • Environmental documentation process, completion times
  • Number of non compliance events (self reported without violations, by regulatory area and activity type) and notices of violations (citations)
  • Turbidity upstream and downstream of construction sites (5 pilots)

The agency is also correlating the number of deer killed on state highways (a commonly tracked item at state transportation agencies) with investments in fencing, specialized roadside reflectors, wildlife crossings, and flashing signs to make inferences regarding effectiveness. Progress is reported quarterly in the agency's "Gray Notebook," available on-line.

State Environmental Agency Reporting on the State of the Environment

Several states issue regular reports on the state of their environment, and are using the data contained in those reports to move to a more performance-based system of environmental management. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is a leader in this area, having issued its first Secretary's Quarterly Performance Report in December 1997. The report divides the department's performance indicators into four tiers:

  • Environmental and public health outcome indicators, which measure the effects of the department's action in the real world.
  • Behavioral and cultural measures; which measure the department's influence on the actions of the regulated community and the public (such as regulatory compliance).
  • Departmental outputs and activities, which measure the actions of the department's employees (such as issuing permits, conducting inspections, etc.).
  • Resource efficiency, which measure how efficiently the department uses its budget and manages its employees.

Based on this data, Florida attempts to measure its progress in protecting the environment and identify those areas that need focused attention.

Minnesota and Washington both issued "state of the environment" reports in 2001. Minnesota's section on Land, Air and Water addresses transportation related impacts. Washington State's report addresses Stream Temperatures and Salmon, Air Quality, Hazardous Waste, Solid Waste Disposal, and Spill Prevention, among other areas.

Canada 's Sustainable Transportation Indicators

Canada created a definition of a sustainable transportation system that with slight changes has been adopted as a working definition by the Transport Ministers of the 15 countries of the European Union. Their definition of a sustainable transportation system is one that: [N]

  • Allows the basic access needs of individuals to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations.
  • Is affordable, operates efficiently, offers choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy.
  • Limits emissions and waste within the planet's ability to absorb them, minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level, reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise.

To this end, Canada developed a number of indicators to measure progress toward sustainability. Those include: [N]

  • Energy use for transportation as represented by consumption of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. Canada found that energy use for transportation (in petajoules) increased 21.5 percent between 1990 and 2000, even though population growth accounted for only half of that.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions, (mainly CO 2) which increased by a corresponding level. Transportation was charged with contributing about a third of total emissions directly and much more if its share of emissions from fuel production would have been counted. The most important GHG emitted by transport is carbon dioxide (CO 2), accounting for more than 90 percent of transport's contribution to the greenhouse.
  • Other, more locally acting emissions from transportation including carbon monoxide ( CO ) , sulphur dioxide ( SO 2 ) , nitrogen oxides ( NO x ) , and volatile organic compounds ( VOCs ) . Transportation's approximate shares of total emissions in Canada are 65 percent for CO, 5 percent for SO2, 57 percent for NOx, and 28 percent for VOCs. The last two combine to form ground level ozone, causing respiratory illness in people and stunting plant growth.

Technological improvements and notably, the introduction in the 1980s of the three-way catalytic converter to reduce emissions from gasoline-fueled engines, enabled reductions in this category, though particulates were not included in this index, due to unreliable measurement.

  • Safety. Contributing factors to the declines in road injuries and fatalities were drink-driving laws, seat-belt laws, safety features in vehicles (e.g., airbags and better brakes), and safety features in highway design (e.g., better alignments and signage), along with enforcement of speed restrictions and safe-driving requirements.
  • Movement of people and freight, both of which increased between 1990 and 2000. Freight movement, with an increase of 37 percent over the decade, more than doubled movement of people.
  • Urban land use and land consumption. This indicator notes that "widespread ownership of personal vehicles makes development possible at densities too low to justify bus services. People who live in such development need to use their cars for almost all the journeys they make. This leads to more car ownership and use and more sprawl. The result is growth in the use of land for urban purposes (homes, businesses, institutions, etc.) beyond the rate of population growth. In addition, low density development can make rural areas less accessible to urban residents, causing them to travel farther for recreation. Excessive use of land for urban purposes can displace agricultural activity, requiring food to be shipped from greater distances…Between 1971 and 1996, the amount of developed land per urban resident increased by 28.9 percent, from 971 to 1,251 square meters. The total amount of land used for urban purposes increased by 55.7 percent between 1981 and 1996, from 18,015 to 28,045 square kilometers. The increase corresponds to about 1.4 percent of Canada's agricultural land."
  • Household spending on transportation, which increased from 16.1 percent to 19.2 percent between 1982 and 2000. The increase involved two steep rises: between 1982 and 1986, and between 1998 and 2000. Closer analysis of the household spending data shows that what increased the most were the costs of car purchase and other fixed costs, e.g., insurance. Real spending on fixed costs - mostly car purchase - increased by 69.2 percent between 1982 and 2000. Real spending on operating costs, mostly fuel, declined by 0.8 percent between 1982 and 2000.
  • Technical performance of road vehicles, specifically how much energy they use, which provides detail about an aspect of total energy use by transportation. The main contributing factor to these changes was growth throughout the 1990s in the proportion of fuel hungry sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, and light trucks in the personal vehicle fleet. In the second half of the decade, this factor was offset by reductions in the fuel intensity of other vehicles, notably heavy trucks.
  • Emissions per unit of transport activity. Substantial improvement in technical performance of vehicles with regard to emission reduction over the decade has largely been offset over the past five years by more vehicles on the road and an increase in vehicle miles traveled.

 

2.6.4 Environmental Auditing
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DOTs have begun to establish programs and procedures for periodic auditing of environmental performance and management systems in order to determine whether planned arrangements are implemented and working.

Environmental audits have been defined as systematic and documented verification processes to objectively obtain and evaluate evidence to determine whether an organization is in conformance or compliance with commitments (legal requirements, internal policies, adopted standards, and defined procedures) and to ensure that necessary corrective actions are made in a timely manner. Audit protocols are often written documents, checklists, procedures or guides used to define the audit scope, to assist the auditor with completing the required elements of the audit plan, and to assist the audit area in preparing for the audit.

New South Wales Construction Auditing Program

Within the New South Wales, Australia, Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)'s EMS, environmental auditing is one way the RTA assesses its performance in environmental management, identifies areas where improvement is needed, and demonstrates the due diligence of both the RTA organizational management and its employees. The RTA defines environmental auditing as a "systematic, documented verification process of objectively obtaining and evaluating evidence to determine whether specific environmental activities, events, conditions, management systems or information about these matters conform to audit criteria and communicating the results of this process." [N]

The NSW RTA established guidelines to provide a structured approach to environmental auditing with risk assessment of projects influencing audit frequency. [N] An environmental audit, which examines the management systems and their implementation through both documentation and reporting and their translation into on-the ground results, can retrospectively examine the performance of the project and give a context against which to assess the current performance. Records of inspections are brought together as part of the audit documentation for examination. Environmental audit findings enable the RTA to answer the following questions:

  • Are RTA's environmental policies, strategies and guidelines being complied with?
  • Are environmental goals, objectives, and targets set by the RTA being achieved?
  • What opportunities exist to improve environmental performance?
  • Are the current environmental management systems and requirements relevant and effective in achieving the RTA's goals?
  • Are regulatory requirements being met?
  • Is the RTA, through the contractor, meeting its legislative duty of care and exercising due diligence?
  • What corrective action should be taken?
  • Are regular management reviews conducted to find ways to improve environmental performance?

At the New South Wales, Australia, Roads and Traffic Authority, the assessment and determination of a "generic" or "activity specific" Review of Environmental Factors establishes the environmental measures that are required to be translated into day-to-day construction and maintenance. For construction projects, the RTA notes that its environmental performance hinges on how well environmental safeguards are implemented, maintained, monitored and rectified, and how appropriate follow through occurs, both in construction and in operation and maintenance. The NSW RTA charges project managers with ensuring that conditions of project approval are an integral part of procedures for detailed design, tender documents, tender assessment, construction management, maintenance and auditing. All monitoring requirements arising from source documents are included in Environmental Management Plans (EMP) for projects and sets of maintenance activities. The Contractor's EMP and its implementation are subject to the same quality assurance and audit procedures as other aspects of the project; auditing is undertaken against the conditions of approval and against individual elements of the EMP.

A Verification Report is prepared to establish how well the contractor's performance matches the requirements of the EMP. NSW RTA's "hand off" procedure attempts to "ensure the continuing highest standards of environmental management after completion of construction" by confirming that the environmental undertakings in relation to construction have been completed satisfactorily and passing on to the Maintenance Engineer/Bridge Maintenance Engineer the environmental undertakings in relation to operation and maintenance.

The RTA generally adopts a partnering, non-adversarial approach to contract management. The partnering approach is supported by quality assurance to enhance accountability by the contractor for the delivery of the contract requirements. For the RTA, auditing is an essential component of quality assurance procedures and is the principal method of independently verifying that the contractor is carrying out its responsibilities and is achieving the desired environmental outcomes. The RTA's audits and surveillance of the contractor's activities complements the contractor's monitoring and internal auditing, all of which will demonstrate both the contractor's and RTA's duty of care for environmental issues.

To ensure the environmental issues of a Region or Branch are effectively managed, Region and Branch Environmental Audit Plans are developed. The Plans set directions and document the Environmental Audit Programs for Business Units within the Region or Branch. The Environmental Audit Plan includes:

  • A compilation of the Environmental Audit Programs currently being carried out
  • The planned Environmental Audit Programs for Business Units
  • Identified Business Units that still need to develop an Environmental Audit Program
  • The management information required from the programs

The audit program consists of a schedule of audits of the environmental management practices within the Unit. For construction works, the audit program consists of a schedule including:

  • Listing of all the project sites
  • Broad risk ranking of all projects to determine the priority and frequency of auditing. Environmental Services Staff often assist in the assessment of environmental impacts and their associated risks. The criteria used to decide this risk ranking includes but is not limited to the:
    • Environmental consequences of the activity
    • Size and scope of the activity
    • Duration of the activity
    • Sensitivity of the area affected by the construction
    • Demonstrated performance in meeting agreed requirements
    • Results of previous audits
    • Effectiveness of internal audits

From this risk ranking a frequency of audits should be established that would ensure the robustness of the environmental management processes.

Projects of short duration (e.g., up to 3 months and are assessed as low environmental risk) are considered in development of the program, but usually a surveillance program with a checklist against the project or maintenance activity Environmental Management Plan is used instead, and signed off by the work supervisor or lead engineer. Auditing for longer term projects is recommended at least every six months. RTA audits are timed to compliment the contractor's audit plan for the frequency of internal and external audits.

Audit frequencies may be relaxed if previous audits have identified that systems and procedures are in place and are used diligently on the project. In practice consideration of audit frequencies looks to:

    • Signs of system failure
    • Evidence of adverse environmental effects
    • Major changes to the project or organization
    • Changes in regulations or policy requirements
    • Complaints/concerns from public authorities
    • Identified risk ranking
  • Schedule of dates when the audits will be conducted and types of audits
  • Identification of resources to complete the program
  • Reporting structure

The planning horizon (timeframe) of the program depends on the size of the construction works within the Business Unit; however an annual rolling program that is subordinate to the Business Plan is recommended, with annual review and reporting and the flexibility to include new projects either planned or underway. After consultation with environmental staff, the final audit program is developed and distributed to the Business Units in the Region or Branch, Project Managers and other relevant staff in the directorate, and the relevant Environmental Services Staff.

New Jersey DOT Construction Audits, Contractor Performance Rating System, and Environmental Factors

NJDOT's Construction and Maintenance Unit conducts audits that include, but are not limited to, environmental issues. Typical findings of these construction and maintenance audits involve sedimentation and erosion control issues. The audits are randomly conducted and primarily serve as part of the construction auditing process, where environmental commitments play an important role.

As part of the New Jersey DOT Contractor Performance Rating System Procedures evaluation of work performed by the Contractor is made to determine the Contractor's performance rating for each contract. The Contractor Performance Rating System generates a Performance Rating of the Prime Contractor, which:

  • Provides an objective and consistent method for measuring Contractor performance
  • Provides a beneficial effect on Contractor performance
  • Increases quality, cost effectiveness and efficiency of the construction process and the finished product
  • Provides the Contractor opportunities to improve job performance between rating periods

The ratings provide the Department with essential information to be used to encourage and ensure the best quality product by awarding projects to the lowest responsible bidder that continually provides high quality work. The system is designed to recognize Contractors performing exceptional work, as well as identify Contractors repeatedly failing to perform satisfactory work. Every six months, the Resident Engineer completes Interim Ratings for the project work executed to date and forwards the rating to the Field Manager for concurrence. Interim and Final Ratings are prepared for all projects. Contractors are rated on a 1 to 5 scale, from unacceptable to outstanding performance. Fifty percent of the points are allocated to quality (including earthwork, drainage, and landscaping) and contract compliance. Safety, traffic control, and environmental evaluation comprise another 20 percent of the total. For safety and environmental commitments, a score of 5 translates to 100 percent compliance, without corrective action, a 4 is given for minor non-compliance with no corrective action required. A score of three and minor non-compliance indicates minor corrective action is needed. The lowest two scores are reserved for major non-compliances requiring corrective action and necessary work shut downs. [N]

Contractor Performance Checklists are completed by the Resident Engineer and/or project inspection personnel and remain in the project file through completion of the contract. The Contractor Performance Checklists provide detailed information to be used by the Resident Engineer and Contractor in identifying non-compliance in methods, materials or performance that must be improved to provide acceptable quality. The level of importance of issued non-compliance notifications, as well as the frequency and duration of the notices, and resultant scoring of the other items of the checklists are used to determine the Contractor Performance Rating ratings. To maintain objectivity, the project specific Contractor Performance Checklists are completed by the Resident Engineer and inspection personnel concurrent with the Contractor's execution of the work. Checklists are completed by inspection personnel, as required, for a given work item. Any work item in non-compliance that may negatively impact project cost, schedule or duration will be photographed by inspection personnel and reported to the Resident Engineer. Upon submission of a checklist from inspection personnel indicating non-compliance, the Resident Engineer submits a Notice of Non-Compliance Form and checklist with the noted non-compliance item(s) to the Contractor. A Contractor receiving a Notice of Non-conformance Form may be required to submit a Corrective Action Plan, if noted on the Notice of Non-Compliance Form. [N]

New York State DOT Environmental Auditing and Self-Reporting

As a state agency, the DOT is required to audit all its facilities, operations and projects (F/P/Os) (construction contracts) annually for compliance with DEC regulations. This involves a formal assessment in April of the compliance status of the previous fiscal year. The Regional Environmental Audit Coordinator compiles the report for the F/P/Os and in the region and forwards the report to the DOT Environmental Audit Coordinator for final compilation and submission to DEC. The environmental staff can assist in determining compliance issues and the headquarters Environmental Analysis Bureau can provide technical assistance on environmental audit issues. [N]

NYSDOT has automated the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (NYSDEC) State Environmental Audit System in order to self-report violations of NYSDEC regulations and to report environmental initiative activities. NYSDOT's annual environmental audit relies on many tracking mechanisms that use the NYSDEC automated database. NYSDOT tools for environmental auditing include the ETRACK database, a Microsoft application linked to NYSDOT's Program Support System, which tracks projects and their major milestones. The database details specific aspects of a project, such as environmental, landscape and architecture, and social impacts. The goal of the ETRACK effort is to establish a method to assure consistency in statewide environmental information.

Maine DOT's Environmental Audit Program

Maine DOT has developed an environmental management system for Maintenance and Operations (M&O), Ferry Service, and Laboratories based on the ISO 14001 model. As part of their procedures, Maine DOT M&O staff conducts periodic environmental audits of Highway Maintenance, Motor Transport Services, Bridge Maintenance, Traffic Engineering Divisions and all maintenance facilities. The audit systematically documents and verifies whether the divisions and facilities are in conformance or compliance with legal requirements, internal policies, adopted standards, and defined procedures. Gaps are determined and strategies developed to continually improve environmental performance. Corrective actions are tracked, and timely closure of audit findings is an M&O priority.

Cross-functional teams of Maine DOT employees report their findings to District management and an agency wide Environmental Management Committee that includes the M&O Director. In auditing, the team follows generally accepted guidelines as described in the ISO 14010, 14011, and 14012 or by the American Society for Quality. Audit protocols consist of written documents, checklists, and guides used to define the audit scope. The Environmental Management Committee monitors completion of the corrective actions in the Corrective Action Plans on a bi-monthly basis and performs follow-up reviews.

Maine DOT has taken special care to fulfill the EMS objectives of consistency, repeatability, integration of environment into day-to-day activities, measure performance, and ease of understanding. A broad spectrum of employees participated in the efforts to develop relevant, easily understood procedures, processes, and tools for each EMS. These efforts occurred over more than a year and required periodic meetings. Commitment of senior management at the very beginning of the EMS efforts ensured that resources needed for implementation were available, all involved in or affected by an EMS stayed focused on the implementation activities and schedule, and all affected employees understood that they are stewards of the environment. Maine DOT's environmental audit system has the following characteristics:

  • Maintenance and Construction projects are inspected by Environmental Office staff that, along with the Maine DOT Construction manager, are authorized to require changes to address environmental deficiencies on projects.
  • All employees are required to be familiar with Maine DOT's environmental policies and procedures that affect their work, as documented in Maine DOT's Environmental Policies and Procedures Manuals.
  • Management is proactive in all follow-up measures, particularly those that require department-wide policy changes and dedicated funding.
  • Maine DOT Tracks and benchmarks problems and successes through an integrated database.

As a result of using a structured and consistent audit program Maine DOT compliance in operations and maintenance has substantially improved, according to Maine DOT's EMS lead staff. Employee "ownership" of and pride in their facilities and actions has also greatly improved. Furthermore, the level of compliance achieved is much higher than with prior initiatives. As a result of the EMS effort, Maine DOT employees understand that their day-to-day actions can have a positive or negative effect on the environment. Maine DOT's Environmental and Safety Auditing Policy and Procedure is listed in the Appendix. The form Maine DOT uses to track corrective action requests is also included in the Appendix.

Mass Highway 's Compliance Tracking and Self-Audit Programs

Mass Highway tracks compliance through scheduled self-audits, facility inspections and, routine facility observations. Procedures and additional guidance information on inspections can be found in Mass Highway's Facility Environmental Handbook and SOP No. ENV-01-03-1-000; Hazardous Waste Management at Mass Highway Facilities. Procedures and guidance for conducting Self-Audits can be found in Mass Highway Self-Audit Protocol Fieldbook. The Mass Highway Compliance Tracking Methods are included in the Appendix as are the Compliance Tracking Roles and Responsibilities, Self Audit Procedure, and Facility Self Audit Checklist.

Mississippi DOT Maintenance Facility Auditing Program

Mississippi DOT is performing environmental audits of all maintenance headquarters, district offices, and shops. MDOT's goal is to be proactive in finding and rectifying any environmental concerns and to be better environmental stewards. Audits include the maintenance shops, grounds, stockpiles, hazmat disposal and storage, recycling, maintenance practices, etc. First round audits will be completed by May 2005, after which MDOT plans to develop Standard Operating Procedures and training for all maintenance employees to make sure items found in the audits do not re-occur.

PennDOT Stockpile Audits and Award Program

PennDOT audits its stockpile management on a regular basis. Measures are included in the facilities management section. PennDOT's audit system is also used as a basis for an award program for counties maintaining stockpiles. Those that can answer yes to all five measures below are awarded a "gold" award and those that can affirmatively respond to four are given a "silver."

  • A four year stockpile needs assessment with spreadsheet is developed in cooperation with Facilities Management and submitted to the District Maintenance office for each facility in the County by June 30 th of each year.
  • Equipment Managers and Foreman, weekly walk around are documented and charged to coding 822-1201 on payrolls 90 percent to 100 percent of the time.
  • A foreman's checklist is completed and submitted to the District Maintenance Office four times per year for each County stockpile. (11/30, 1/31, 3/31,6/30)
  • A score of 3.5 or > is received on all model stockpile Quality Assurance evaluations completed.
  • All County field and garage employees are presented the Stockpile Academy refresher by April 1, 2002.
  • For more information see the chapter on Maintenance Facilities under "Land Procurement and Stockpile Development.

Missouri Contractor Performance Measures and Evaluation

Missouri utilizes a project questionnaire in evaluating contractor performance Missouri DOT Past Performance Evaluation Forms . Standard questions based on contract specification requirements are used to evaluate performance in three categories: Quality, Contract Compliance and Prosecution & Progress of work on the project. The evaluation form allocates points for:

  • Minimizing disturbance outside the ROW and outside easements.
  • Whether necessary salvage and removal was accomplished without damage.
  • Drainage items initially installed/constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications.
  • Whether embankments were constructed according to designs and specifications.
  • Percentage of the sod was living at the end of the initial watering period.
  • Soil preparation, lime and fertilizer application in compliance with the contract.
  • Initial seed and mulch application in compliance with the contract.
  • Acres (hectares) of erodible earth authorized versus that opened at various points.
  • Percentage of the required temporary erosion control items were properly installed and maintained.

New Jersey DOT Past Performance Procedures and Evaluation Forms ( Word Version ). According to a survey by the AASHTO Construction Subcommittee Contract Administration Task Force, performance evaluations directly lead to an adjustment of prequalification capacity rating with the completion of every contract in nine states (FL, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MO, NE, VT). [N]

Standards and Measures of Environmental Performance Audit Programs

  • Audit results should be provided to management and any oversight teams in order to make any needed adjustments to the process.
  • The audit program and schedule should be based on the environmental importance of the activity concerned and the results of previous audits.
  • Audit results should be tracked.
  • Audit procedures should cover the audit scope, frequency and methodologies, as well as the responsibilities and requirements for conducting audits and reporting results.
  • Audits should improve employee awareness, participation and motivation
  • Audits should provide the opportunity for continual improvement and improve the confidence and satisfaction of interested parties.
  • Improve operational performance.

Standards and Measures for Nonconformance Detection and Corrective and Preventive Action

Ensuring that feedback occurs, procedures are changed if necessary, and environmental outcomes are appropriate or targets are met requires ongoing identification of deviations from expected procedure or performance and follow up by implementing corrective or preventive action.

ISO 14001 identifies standards for nonconformance and corrective and preventive action, which require certified organizations to establish and maintain procedures to ensure this takes place.

  • Responsibility and authority are defined for handling and investigating nonconformance, taking action to mitigate any impacts caused, and for initiating and completing corrective and preventive action.
  • Any corrective or preventive action taken to eliminate the causes of actual and potential nonconformances should be appropriate to the magnitude of problems and commensurate with the environmental impact encountered.
  • The organization should implement and record any changes in the documented procedures resulting from corrective and preventive action.

Thus, in checking for a functional process for identifying nonconformance where it exists and following up with appropriate corrective and preventive action, one may look for the following indicators:

  • Process for managing and monitoring nonconformities and noncompliances.
  • Records showing timely corrective and preventive action occurred and actions were closed out.

Standards and Performance Evaluation for Monitoring and Measurement

Standards and measures to use or those in place already at DOTs are discussed throughout this document on a subject basis; however, some general measures for a DOT's larger monitoring and measurement effort related to environmental performance are established by ISO 14001 section 4.5.1.

  • The organization shall establish and maintain documented procedures to monitor and measure, on a regular basis, the key characteristics of its operations and activities that can have a significant impact on the environment.
  • This shall include the recording of information to track performance relevant operational controls and conformance with the organization's environmental objectives and targets.
  • Monitoring equipment shall be calibrated and maintained and records of this process shall be retained according to the organization's procedures.
  • The organization shall establish and maintain a documented procedure for periodically evaluating compliance with relevant environmental legislation and regulations.

DOTs often maintain documentation when key characteristics of operations are monitored and measured. Most often, such monitoring occurs in response to regulatory requirements or negotiated approvals by regulatory agencies. DOTs maintain calibration records for monitoring equipment and keep records when/that compliance evaluations are periodically conducted. Conformity to a DOT's established environmental objectives and targets also indicate that monitoring, measurement, and feedback (the system) is working.

 

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Table of Contents
 
Chapter 2
Organizational Environmental Stewardship Practices
2.1 DOT Environmental Policies and Mission Statements
2.2 Environmental Strategic Planning at Transportation Agencies
2.3 Setting Objectives and Targets & Tracking Environmental Commitments
2.4 Environmental Management Systems - Benefits & Approaches
2.5 Operational Controls, Procedures, and Practices
2.6 Measuring Environmental Performance
2.7 Environmental Staffing, Roles, and Responsibilities
2.8 Environmental Training and Certification
2.9 Regional DOT Stewardship Practice Exchange & Discussion
   
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