This handbook provides recommendations on defining a project’s purpose and need in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and determining a range of alternatives. Practical tips include understanding the legislative and planning context, determining the needs, defining the project purpose, screening alternatives, and involving agencies and the public.

Download the Handbook

Handbook Resources

CEQ, “Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ’s NEPA Regulations” (Mar. 16, 1981)
https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa/regs/40/40P1.HTM

FHWA, “The Importance of Purpose and Need in Environmental Documents” (Sept. 18, 1990)
https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/projdev/tdmneed.asp

Connaughton, Chairman, CEQ, Letter to N. Mineta, Secretary, USDOT (May 12, 2003)
https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/guidebook/Gconnaughton.asp

Peters, Administrator, FHWA, and J. Dorn, Administrator, FTA, “Guidance on ‘Purpose and Need’” (July 23, 2003)
https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/guidebook/Gjoint.asp

D.J. Gribbin, Chief Counsel, FHWA, “NEPA Analysis for Toll Roads” (Oct. 15, 2004)
https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/guidebook/NEPA_tollroads.asp

E.O. 13274 Purpose and Need Work Group, “Baseline Report” (March 15, 2005)
http://www.dot.ca.gov/ser/downloads/general/pn_report_eo13274.pdf

FHWA, et al., “Synchronizing Environmental Reviews for Transportation and Other Infrastructure Projects: 2015 Red Book” (Sept. 2015)
https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/Redbook_2015.asp