The procedures manual captures the experience of practitioners in the Iowa Department of Transportation's (Iowa DOT's) Office of Location and Environment (OLE). It also documents the need for coordinated project development efforts during the highway project planning, or location study phase and engineering design.
The location study phase establishes:
- The definition of, and need for, the highway improvement project
- The range of alternatives and many key attributes of the project's design
- The recommended alternative, its impacts, and the agreed-to conditions for project approval
The location study process involves developing engineering alternatives, collecting engineering and environmental data, and completing design refinements to accomplish functional designs. The items above also embody the basic content required for projects compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 19691, which directs federal agencies to use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach during the planning process whenever proposed actions (or "projects") have the potential for environmental impacts. In doing so, NEPA requires coordination with stakeholders, review, comment, and public disclosure.
1 42 USC 4321-4347; and CEQ regulations at 40 CFR 1500.