Environmental planning and Planning Environmental Linkage (PEL)

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process. Environmental staff work with planners to define environmental baseline and contextual needs and to document the information, analysis, and products developed during planning studies to inform the environmental review process.

Documenting for PEL

Our DRAFT Environmental Planning & PEL Handbook (pdf 675 kb) provides guidance on incorporating environmental issues into our planning efforts. The guidance considers FHWA’s Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) approach (23 CFR 168) and focuses on WSDOT’s environmental priorities, community inclusion, and regulatory efficiencies for planning studies.

WSDOT planners use the Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) Questionnaire (docx 34 kb) throughout a planning study to document how they addressed environmental issues. They can then “hand off” the questionnaire as a starting point for the environmental review process.

PEL Pilots

WSDOT has some PEL pilot studies in process. These studies will test and inform changes to the agency’s PEL guidance. Those regional pilots include:

Heron Street Bridge – a pre-design planning effort to solve a structurally deficient, movable swing span in need of replacement. It provides a multimodal connection between downtown Aberdeen and the Olympic Gateway Plaza shopping complex.

US 2 Trestle – a planning study of an aging trestle and congestion issues along US 2 in Snohomish County.

SR 410 – a planning study to investigate congestion between Enumclaw and Bonney Lake that considers replacing the White River Bridge.

I-5 Bellingham – a planning study to assess and analyze identified transportation needs including mobility challenges, along the I-5 corridor between Bellingham and Ferndale.