Title

MAJOR INVESTMENT STUDIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTATION: CLEARING UP THE CONFUSION

Authors

D Emerson
G Benz

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1998

Subject Area

planning - environmental impact, land use - planning, policy - environment, mode - subway/metro

Keywords

Trade off analysis, Studies, Options, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Metropolitan planning organizations, Major investment studies, Investments, Investment requirements, Environmental impact analysis, Documents, Documentation, Comparison studies, Alternatives analysis

Abstract

Federal planning regulations issued in 1993 require major investment studies (MISs) to help metropolitan planning organizations reach decisions on high-cost, high-impact highway and transit facilities. The regulations offer two options for the development of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for major investments. In Option 1, draft and final NEPA documents are prepared during the project development/preliminary engineering phase for any projects that emerge from an MIS and have been incorporated into the region's long-range plan. In Option 2, a draft NEPA document is prepared as part of the MIS. Although there is general appreciation and understanding of the planning principles underlying the MIS process, the role of environmental impact analysis and documentation has been a source of confusion, misunderstanding, and skepticism. An attempt is made to clear up this confusion by explaining Option 1, Option 2, and the more recently conceived Option 1 1/2 and by presenting situations and circumstances in which each option might be most advantageous. Also presented is the federal "vision" that led to the development of the MIS process. The nature of MIS alternatives is highlighted, suggestions for establishing the appropriate level of detail are offered, and a distinction is made between NEPA principles and documentation requirements.