Center for Environmental Excellence

The Center for Environmental Excellence by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has been developed in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration to promote environmental stewardship and to encourage innovative ways to streamline the transportation delivery process. The Center is designed to serve as a resource for transportation professionals seeking technical assistance, training, information exchange, partnership-building opportunities, and quick and easy access to environmental tools.

Fact SheetPost CardPoster
Truck on the road going in the american countryside
Lake set in the mountains

Technical Working Group

The work of the Center is overseen by a Technical Working Group comprised of the following members:

  • Carlos Braceras, Utah DOT, Chair
  • Ron Achelpohl, Mid-America Regional Council
  • Michael Culp, FHWA
  • Gail D’Avino, Georgia DOT
  • Mark Walls, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
  • David Harris, New Mexico DOT
  • Tim Hill, Ohio DOT
  • Jeff  Neal, North Central Texas Council of Governments
  • Patty Leavenworth, Massachusetts DOT
  • Charles Kovatch, U.S. EPA
  • Neil Pedersen, Transportation Research Board
  • John Chisolm, Caltrans
  • Bill Keyrouze, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
  • Ernay Robinson, Georgia DOT
  • Tim Sexton, Minnesota DOT
  • Mike Sintetos, National Center for Sustainable Transportation, UC-Davis
  • Jennifer Toth, Maricopa County DOT
  • Sarah Wingert, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Working with the Center Technical Working Group, the Center will produce a three-year strategic plan that includes a mission, a vision, goals, and actions that will be taken to achieve those goals.

If you are interested in partnering and/or leveraging to accomplish the Center’s goals, please contact Melissa Savage at [email protected].

2020-2022 Work Plan

Task 1:  CEE Technical Working Group (TWG), Work Plan Development and Manage & Administer

Under this task, the Center will support the efforts of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop and implement a Work Plan covering the remaining time under the current cooperative agreement (through March 31, 2022), and overall management and administration associated with the cooperative agreement.

In relation to TWG support, the task will enable the Center to plan and host quarterly web-based teleconferences with the TWG.  The purpose of these teleconferences will be to discuss the status of the Center Work Plan tasks and receive feedback and direction from the TWG.  The quarterly web-based teleconferences can also include guest presentations on topics selected by the TWG in consultation with FHWA on an as-needed basis.

Additionally, under this task, the Center will develop the draft CEE Work Plan based on discussions held during the TWG in-person meeting (Dec. 18, 2019) and follow-up emails and phone calls.  The potential tasks will be further developed with FHWA to include a scope of work for each task, cost budget, and deliverables.  The final draft Work Plan will be shared with the TWG and FHWA for final comment and review with revisions completed by April 1, 2020.  The Final CEE Work Plan will be submitted to FHWA by April 17, 2020.  Each task under the Work Plan shall have a “Task Team” comprised of AASHTO staff and FHWA staff, as well as TWG members as appropriate.  Task Teams shall meet as needed throughout the period of performance to manage timelines and deliverable completion.

CEE Work Plan Quarterly Progress Reports: The Recipient shall provide written CEE Work Plan Quarterly Progress Reports to FHWA.

Task 2: Information Exchange & Marketing Plan

The Center will continue to implement the Information Exchange & Marketing Plan developed under the 2017-2018 Work Plan.  The implementation effort will involve information dissemination to identified networks regarding upcoming relevant FHWA and Center events, publications and other items.  Under this task, the Center will begin to fully take advantage of social media resources through the AASHTO Communications & Marketing Division to promote Center activities and will develop a schedule and plan for information dissemination.  Additionally, the Center will leverage planned AASHTO meetings and events to promote Center resources and products including upcoming events, Practitioner Handbooks, databases, and case studies.

The Center will also develop and maintain a list of upcoming peer exchanges, workshops, and communities of practice, conference presentations, and participation on committees that will be used to facilitate engagement between the Center and other transportation stakeholders and organizations.

Task 3: Center Web Site and Environmental Research

The Center Website is the central location for DOT staff, resource agencies, and other transportation partners and practitioners to access the Center’s resources, products, and programs. The Website will be regularly updated with news and information regarding environmental legislation, webinars, trainings, innovations, and case studies. The website will house the Transportation and Environmental Research Ideas (TERI) database, where NCHRP proposals are submitted and then vetted by the AASHTO Committee on Environment & Sustainability.

Under this task, the Center will conduct routine maintenance and updates to the Center website and regularly monitor web sites and information sources for news, best practices, research, other developments, and post relevant items to the web sites. The Center will continue to provide notices of new information, publications, and reports on the website.  The Center will maintain regular contact with FHWA, FTA, and FRA and Federal Resource Agencies in regards to postings new information for each the environmental topical areas on the Center website, as well as maintain information to promote relevant activities, meetings, and training offered by FHWA and other stakeholders.

The Center will conduct regular website usage analysis and make updates and enhancements to the website based on this analysis.  The Center will ensure all publications and events completed under the Work Plan are posted to the Center website.

The Center will maintain and keep current the TERI, Environmental Case Law (CLUE) and Programmatic Agreement Library (PAL) databases, as appropriate and will promote awareness of the databases among key website users and promote linkages through other partner organizations.

Under this task, the Center will expand the resources available on the website related to resilience, sustainability and active transportation.  In consultation with FHWA subject matter experts, the Center will identify existing resources that should be included under each topical heading on the website.  Resources could include webinar recordings, reports, presentations, and electronic tools.

The Center will conduct two state surveys/information collection activities under this task.  One will focus on NEPA State Assignment and the other on culverts and stream crossings.  The purpose of these surveys/information collection activities will be to gather details about state DOT current state of the practice and lessons learned.  Surveys will be developed in consultation with FHWA subject matter experts and the Center TWG.  Based on the results of the survey/information collection efforts, reports will be developed to summarize the findings.

Task 4: Speaker’s Bureau and Transportation Research Board Collaboration

Under this task, the Center for Environmental Excellence will support the participation of State DOT practitioners in Transportation Research Board and other national organizations.  The State DOTs will make presentations and engage with TRB Committees, as appropriate.

The Center will compile a list of potential speakers comprised of state DOT practitioners, members of the Center Technical Working Group including State DOT representatives, MPOs, resource agencies, and other selected experts that are available to make presentations during national conferences and other venues.

This task will enable the Center to develop customizable presentations for practitioners to deliver during AASHTO Committee Meetings, Transportation Research Board sessions and meetings, and other relevant conferences, summits, and meetings to be identified in collaboration with FHWA.

Task 5: Peer Exchanges

Under this task, the Center will organize and convene four peer exchanges before the end of CY2021.  The peer exchanges will be approximately one and a half to two days in length.  Content for the peer exchanges including topic and speaker selection as well as format (panels, facilitated conversations, poster sessions, etc) will be determined by task teams, comprised of Center TWG members as appropriate, FHWA subject matter experts, AASHTO staff, and relevant AASHTO committee/council representatives.  Four distinct task teams will be established for each of the peer exchanges.  The peer exchanges will cover the following topics:

1.) Air Quality;

2.) Environmental Justice;

3.) Planning and Environmental Linkages; and

4.) Resilience.

The expected timeframes for the peer exchanges will be two held during the 2020-2021 period of performance and two to be held during the 2021-2022 period of performance.  The peer exchanges will be held in Washington, D.C. unless opportunities arise to take advantage of meeting in conjunction with other AASHTO Committee meetings or TRB Committee meetings.  Travel support for the peer exchanges will be provided through this task and the Center is expected to offer travel support for one practitioner from each state DOT. Following each peer exchange, the Center will develop resources including a summary report of the peer exchange to post to the Center website.  Other resources might include presentations from the peer exchange as well as reports and other materials referenced during the peer exchanges.

Task 6: Case Studies

The Center will produce a series of case studies focusing on six distinct topics.  Each case study will either focus on a specific state DOTs experience in a particular topical area or on a specific topic.  The topics selected for the case study series include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Context Sensitive Solutions/Design
  3. Commitment Compliance/Monitoring
  4. Alternative Program Delivery Design Build
  5. Environmental Justice
  6. Active Transportation

Each case study will follow the current Center Case Study template and will be no longer than four pages.  Under this task the Center will complete twelve (12) case studies (two for each topic).

Task 7: Webinar Series

Under this task, the Center will organize and hold three separate webinar series focused on the following topics:

  1. Resilience
  2. Active Transportation
  3. Environmental Justice

Each topical webinar series will include 3 separate webinars each lasting no longer than 90 minutes.  Topic and speaker selection will be determined by specific task teams comprised of Center TWG members as appropriate, FHWA subject matter experts, AASHTO staff, and representation from relevant AASHTO committees and councils.  The webinar recordings and presentations will be housed on the Center’s website.

Task 8: Virtual Peer Exchanges

The Center will organize and hold two Virtual Peer Exchanges one focused on Context Sensitive Solutions/Design and the other on Alternative Program Delivery Design Build.  The Virtual Peer Exchanges will last longer than typical Center webinars and will include an interactive portion to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and engagement.  Content for the peer exchanges, including topic and speaker selection will be made in consultation with task teams comprised of Center TWG members as appropriate, FHWA subject matter experts, AASHTO staff, and representatives from relevant AASHTO Committees can Councils.  Following the Virtual Peer Exchange, the recording of the event, presentations, and a summary of the peer-to-peer exchange that took place during the live event will be posted to the Center website.

Task 9: Sustainability Community of Practice

This task will establish a Sustainability Community of Practice for interested state DOT practitioners.  The Community of Practice engagements will be guided by a steering committee comprised of AASHTO staff, FHWA staff, and state DOT representatives.  The steering committee will be no more than 12 people include eight state DOTs representatives (two from each AASHTO region).  The steering committee will work together to plan CoP engagements including webinars and conference calls focused on topics identified by the steering committee.  The steering committee will also oversee the development and organization of the Sustainability Workshop (see Task 10).  It is expected that the CoP will hold quarterly webinars for the full community and monthly calls for the steering committee.

Task 10: Sustainability Workshop

Under this task, the Center will organize and hold a 4-hour workshop for practitioners to discuss current practices in state DOTs regarding sustainability.  The workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss challenges associated with sustainability implementation; including gaps in training, technical assistance, and capacity building needs.  Based on the discussions during the workshop, the Center will produce a report highlighting best practices and approaches. This task will enable the Center to provide travel support for participants from the Committee on Environment & Sustainability (CES) to attend the workshop.  The workshop will be held in conjunction with the 2020 or 2021 AASHTO Committee on Environment & Sustainability Annual Meeting.  Workshop specifics will be determined in partnership with the Sustainability Community of Practice Steering Committee (see Task 9) Based on the outcomes of the workshop, a summary report will be developed and published to the Center website.

Task 11: Practitioner Handbooks

The Center will update 16 of the 18 existing Practitioner Handbooks currently posted to the Center website and develop two new handbooks.  Practitioner Handbooks #9 (Using the SAFETEA LU Environmental Review Process) and #10 (Using the Transportation Planning Process to Support the NEPA Process) will be removed.

The handbooks to be updated include:

1 Maintaining a Project File and Preparing an Administrative Record for a NEPA Study

2 Responding to Comments on an Environmental Impact Statement

3 Managing the NEPA Process for Toll Lanes and Toll Roads

4 Tracking Compliance with Environmental Commitments/Use of Environmental Monitors

5 Utilizing Community Advisory Committees for NEPA Studies

6 Consulting under Section 106 of National Historic Preservation Act

7 Defining the Purpose and Need and Determining the Range of Alternatives for Transportation Projects

8 Developing and Implementing an Environmental Management System in a State Department of Transportation

11 Complying with Section 4(f) of the US DOT Act

12 Assessing Indirect Effects and Cumulative Impacts Under NEPA

13 Developing and Implementing a Stormwater Management Program in a Transportation Agency

14 Applying the Section 404 (b)(1) Guidelines in Transportation Project Decision-Making

15 Preparing High-Quality NEPA Documents for Transportation Projects

16 Implementing Eco-Logical: Integrating Transportation Planning and Ecological Decision Making

17 Complying with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for Transportation Projects

18 Addressing Air Quality Issues in the NEPA Process for Highway Projects

19 NEW: Planning and Environmental Linkages

20 NEW: NEPA Assignment

Once updated, the Practitioner Handbooks will be posted to the Center website.  A limited supply of each will be printed.