GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

4.5 Next Week's Webinar



Next week, our guest speaker will be Mr. Frank DeSendi. Frank is the Manager of PennDOT’s Geographic Information Division and is also a former Chair of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials’ GIS for Transportation (AASHTO GIS-T) Task Force. He began his career with PennDOT in 1989 and has been working in the geospatial field since 1995. Frank holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University.

One interesting use of spatial technology which Frank’s group implemented a few years ago is called LPN which stands for Linking Planning and NEPA. PennDOT and its planning partners (i.e., the MPOs and RPOs) use the application to screen potential projects against more than forty environmental datasets which collectively address most NEPA concerns. Based on the proximity of a proposed transportation project to these resources, the application determines a score which can be used to compare various alternatives for the project. The user’s guide for the application is here.

Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL)

In the past, transportation planning and the development of TIPs and STIPs occurred with little thought given to environmental and cultural resources and community concerns. Later in the project development process, when the design and construction of the project were eminent, the potential impacts to these resources were considered as is required by NEPA. If, through this NEPA review process, the project was anticipated to have potential impacts on these resources, it often led to substantial delays in project delivery, unexpected increases in the project budget and a less than ideal solution for all involved. Consequently, significant efforts have been made in the past 15 years to begin assessing potential impacts to resources early in the planning process and for transportation agencies to work more closely with resources agencies. Spatial technologies have played a large role in facilitating potential impact assessments, identifying alternatives that eliminate or minimize impacts and, when impacts are unavoidable, identifying mitigation strategies which can offset any negative impacts of the project.

In response to the need to more closely integrate transportation planning and environmental review, FHWA created the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) program to help state DOTs, MPOs and RPOs revise their planning processes, improve their coordination with resource agencies and develop tools to streamline the entire process.

Assignment 4-6 (10 points)

Watch the 2011 webinar (72 minutes) jointly sponsored by FHWA and AASHTO titled Linking Transportation and Natural Resource Planning through the use of Environmental GIS Tools and submit an M.S. Word document to Assignment 4-6 in Canvas which addresses the following questions:

  1. What are the differences and similarities in the GIS tools used by Texas DOT and Maryland State Highway Administration? (4 points)
  2. What is “green infrastructure”? (2 points)
  3. What is the difference between avoidance or minimization strategies and mitigation strategies? (2 points)
  4. What are some of the types of mitigation strategies which were discussed? (2 points)

Assignment 4-7 (5 points)

After reviewing the background material for next week’s webinar and the biography for next week’s speaker, come up with 3-5 questions which are clearly stated and are relevant to the webinar topics. Submit the questions to Assignment 4-7 in Canvas.

Webinar Questions Rubric (5 points)
Criteria Ratings Points
Question Quality
Excellent: Questions were clearly worded, demonstrated a thorough review of the background material and thoughtful reflection and insight on the part of the student.
5.0 pts
Satisfactory: Questions were somewhat clear, demonstrated some review of the background material and some reflection and insight on the part of the student.
3.0 pts
Poor: Questions were unclear and/or demonstrated little or no review of the background material and/or demonstrated little or no reflection and insight on the part of the student.
1.0 pts
5.0 pts
Total Points: 5.0