Synthesis of State DOT Best Practices for Regulated Material Management and the Creation of New National Guidelines

Focus Area

Waste Management/Recycling/Brownfields


Natural Resources






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

During project development and construction, DOT agencies must assess the liability of real property acquisitions of contaminated property as well as contaminated waste management generated by disturbing these areas during construction. Contaminated property ownership and clean up can dramatically increase cost and legal risk to DOTs and to project development and construction. Proper handling of these materials requires planning, expertise, and additional cost. Mishandled wastes can present hazards to workers and the public. Undiscovered regulated materials found during active construction can add significant expense, project delay, and material management costs to transportation infrastructure projects. Often the original generator of these regulated wastes are no longer viable, leaving clean up and waste management costs on the DOTs. Currently no national synthesis exists on how the DOTs manage the process of due diligence of property acquisition and due care of project wastes under a variety of Federal and state regulations. Additionally, the few national guidance documents available to DOTs are incomplete, lack actionable implementable detail, are focused on a limited set of reactive clean-up activities, and are over 30 years out of date. Finally some materials if kept on site can be reused on the construction project saving cost and time.

A quick canvas of select DOTs reveals each DOT has developed their own processes for managing due care and due diligence in the absence of national guidance. Several DOTs rely on established, yet incomplete, standards developed by ASTM Environmental Site Assessment procedures. Others have developed independent processes and procedures that establish a process for risk and material management but may not be based on lessons learned and refined in other states or localities. Previous AASHTO and FHWA guidelines are incomplete, lack actionable implementable detail, and are over 30 years out of date. They lack guidance on lead and asbestos in bridges and other structures, and lack or have limited detail on now more common waste issues.

The objective of this research two-fold. First is to provide DOTs a synthesis of transportation agency best current practices in the form of a reference document. Second from this synthesis develop a national guidance curated from the synthesis of best practices and informed and enhanced from legal and national expertise on this topic.

The research objectives will be met through the following tasks and related activities:

Task I: Synthesis: Gather, Review, and Summarize Existing DOT Material Management Due Care and Due Diligence Processes
• Assess against
o Compliance with Federal Requirements
o Level of risk managed
o State specific Requirements
o Efficiency, efficacy, and ease of implementation
o Cost of implementation vs risk taken efficiency

Task II: Development of New Updated Guidelines for DOTs
• Taking the lessons learned from the synthesis, create practical, compliant, efficient, and effective guidelines for transportation agencies for managing waste due care and due diligence.
• Experts in state and federal guidelines, legal liability, due diligence, due care, and process efficiency should be included in the team developing these guidelines.

Urgency and Payoff

This project will provide a national synthesis on how the DOTs manage the process of due diligence of property acquisition and due care of project wastes under a variety of Federal and state regulations. Both AASHTO and FHWA Guidance is significantly out of date and both are incomplete, lack actionable implementable detail, are do not address the range of contaminants and hazardous materials commonly encountered by Transportation agencies. The updated guidance would provide a more comprehensive guide for agencies to follow. The guidance would be beneficial to state DOTs as well as rail and transit agencies.

Suggested By

Matt Perlik

[email protected]