Aesthetics – How something looks, especially when considered in terms of how pleasing it is. This can be internal, relational, or environmental.
Alternative – One of a number of specific transportation improvement proposals, alignments, options, design choices, etc., in a study. Following detailed analysis, one improvement alternative is chosen for implementation.
Annual Program – The current Fiscal Year Highway Improvement Program. This document is published annually and includes all improvements of the state highway system, including construction, engineering and land acquisition for both state and local funded projects.
Avoidance Alternative – any alignment proposal that has been developed, modified, or shifted specifically to avoid affecting one or more resources regarded as significant.
Best Management Practices (BMP) – are generally accepted techniques that, when used alone or in combination, prevent or reduce adverse effects of a project. Examples include erosion control measures and construction management to minimize traffic disruption.
Categorical Exclusion (CE) – 1. A classification given to federal aid projects or actions that do not have a significant effect on the environment either individually or cumulatively. Categorical Exclusions do not require extensive levels of environmental documentation. 2. The written documentation to support a Class of Action that satisfies federal criteria describing non-significant impacts.
Community Working Group (CWG) – A group comprised of individual community’s stakeholders identified by the Project Study Group (PSG), as well as those individuals or groups expressing an interest in serving on the committee. CWG involvement is critical to the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process. The role of the CWG is to advise the PSG. Throughout the planning and design process the CWG members will be required to participate in a number of workshop-style exercises developed to solicit input and garner consensus from the members when managing community issues; addressing design, environmental, and technical issues; as well as defining proposed design alternatives.
Consensus – When a majority agrees upon a particular issue, while the dissenting remainder agrees that their input has been heard and duly considered and that the process as a whole was fair.
Context – 1) The interrelated condition in which something exists, 2) Weaving parts into a whole.
Community Context Audit –A formal process of evaluating various community characteristics that make each transportation project location unique to its residents, its businesses and the public in general.
Context Sensitive Design (CSD) – An initiative of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to encourage states to balance transportation needs with the environment and aesthetic concerns of communities. This is to be accomplished through Context Sensitive Design / Thinking Beyond the Pavement programs. Each state is implementing this new approach to development, staff training, conferences, research and community outreach.
Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) – Balance between mobility, community needs and the environment while developing transportation projects. This is achieved through involving stakeholders early and continuously, addressing all modes of transportation, applying flexibility in the design, and incorporating aesthetics to the overall project.
Design Criteria – Established state and national standards and procedures that guide establishment of roadway functional classifications, layouts, alignments, geometry and dimensions for specified types of highways in certain defined conditions. The principal design criteria for highways are traffic volume, design speed, the physical characteristics of vehicles, the classification of vehicles, and the percentage of various vehicle classification types that use the highway.
Design Exception – An approval issued by IDOT or FHWA to permit certain deviation from a specified, accepted standard granted on the basis of a report justifying the need for the exception.
Displacement – A resident or business that will be relocated due to the proposed highway improvement.
Design Vehicle – The applicable vehicle for different intersections. These vehicles are used to determine the pavement edge or curb line. Note that the design vehicle will determine the turning width, vehicular path width or swept-path width. The assumed speed of the vehicle is less than 10 mph.
Environmental Assessment (EA) – A document prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for federally-funded transportation projects that do not fall under any categorical exclusion category and do not appear to be of sufficient magnitude to require an EIS. An Environmental Assessment provides the analysis and documentation to determine if an EIS or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) should be prepared.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – An EIS is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 for projects that may have significant impacts, and is the document that assures that planners, engineers and environmental scientists have studied appropriate alternatives and that citizens are fully aware of the environmental, social, cultural and economic effects of all alternatives. The EIS documents the development and impact analysis of the alternatives as well as the logic for the selection of the preferred alternative.
Facilitation – A process in which a neutral guide (a facilitator) works collaboratively with a group to accomplish a specific task or reach a certain goal, without making substantive comments or providing input.
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) – A document that briefly presents the reasons why an action will not have a significant effect on the human environment and for which, therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will not be prepared. A FONSI concludes the Environmental Assessment (EA) process.
Focus Working Group (FWG) – A specific and structured form of an advisory group with specific interests and knowledge, e.g., aesthetics, historical, agricultural, environmental resources, sustainability, etc. They are assembled to review specific planning and design materials and advise the Project Study Group (PSG) at key milestones, before the information is finalized. FWGs are formed for a project as necessary.
Functional Classification – A transportation facility defined by the traffic service it provides.
Halting Point – A part of the Stakeholder Involvement Plan where certain activities can be considered completed.
Impacts – Positive or negative effects upon the natural or human environment resulting from transportation projects.
Indirect Effects – Impacts that can be expected to result from a given action that occur later in time or further removed in distance; for example, induced changes to land use patterns, population density, or growth rate.
Intactness – Measures the visual integrity of the natural and built landscape and its freedom from encroaching elements.
Inter-modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) – Signed in 1991, this Federal legislation established the policy of developing an economic, efficient, and environmentally sound national transportation system. To further this goal, ISTEA conceives transportation enhancement activities and requires that transportation policy advance the objectives of regional and metropolitan planning by considering the “overall social, economic, energy, and environmental effects’ of improvement projects. ISTEA was superseded in 1998 by the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-first Century (TEA-21).
Landscape Unit – Subunits of a study area that make evaluating the entire study area easier. Visual character and visual continuity define these landscape units.
Legal Notice – One-column text advertisements printed in the “legal” section of a newspaper that announce activities such as Public Hearings and the availability of environmental documents for public review.
Level of Service (LOS) – A qualitative measure describing operational conditions within a traffic stream, based on service measures such as speed and travel time, freedom to maneuver, traffic interruptions, comfort, and convenience. LOS can apply to vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.
Mailing List – A list maintained by the Project Study Group containing the names and addresses of persons or organizations desiring information or notification about project activities.
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) – A planning group designated for each urban area with a population of 50,000 or more. Members include both private citizens and local government officials. An MPO addresses federal aid planning mandates by producing local area transportation plans or transportation improvement programs on an annual or biannual basis, or by employing other strategies that make existing systems more efficient.
Multi-modal Transportation – Includes all modes of transportation for a complete transportation system. Examples: cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, high occupancy vehicles, mass transit, airplanes and rail.
Multi-Year Program – The State Transportation Improvement Program for the five to seven years beyond the current fiscal year. This document is published annually and includes all improvements of the state highway system, including construction, engineering and land acquisition for both state and local funded projects.
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) – The federal law that requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Environmental Assessment (EA), or Categorical Exclusion (CE) for undertakings using federal funds that may have significant impacts. To comply with NEPA, a process has been developed by IDOT to address all potential environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts of a proposed highway project before decisions are reached on design. Public involvement is an integral component of the NEPA process.
Neighborhood Meeting – A special purpose meeting held for a specific neighborhood or community that will be, or has the potential to be, affected by the project.
Newsletter – A printed brochure that conveys news or information of interest to the general public.
No-Build Alternative – A viable alternative for every project. This alternative is included as part of the NEPA process.
Nominal Safety – Safety examined in reference to compliance with standards, warrants, guidelines and sanctioned design procedures.
Open House – An informal, unstructured Public Meeting during which display boards are used to convey important project information and Department and consultant personnel are available to answer the public’s questions.
Press Release – a written announcement to the media of an upcoming event or recent development.
Problem Statement – a concise narrative, prepared at the outset of a project or as part of a project needs study, defining the fundamental situation or circumstance to be solved. A problem statement will generally describe a particular situation in which an expected level of performance is not being achieved, and will list one or more important factors which cause or contribute to the unacceptable performance
Project Study Group (PSG) – An interdisciplinary technical team that makes the ultimate project recommendations to the Joint Lead Agencies. The disciplines within the PSG depend on the context of the project. The membership of the PSG is not static and will evolve as the understanding of the project’s context evolves.
Public Hearing – The official method for gathering public comments on project alternatives and environmental impact statements. The format of this Hearing may be formal or informal and the purpose is to afford the public the fullest opportunity to express support or opposition relevant to a transportation project in an open forum. A verbatim record (transcript) of the proceedings is kept.
Public Involvement – Coordination events and informational materials geared at encouraging the public to participate in the project development process. A successful Public Involvement Plan facilitates the exchange of information among project sponsors and outside groups and the general public, and includes meetings, surveys, committees, presentations, etc.
Public Information Meeting (PIM) – An announced meeting conducted by transportation officials designed to facilitate participation in the decision-making process and to assist the public in gaining an informed view of a proposed project at any level of the project development process.
Quality – Preparing the design or products to meet criteria and (customer-defined) expectations in an efficient, cost effective manner using state-of-the-art engineering practices and sound professional judgment. Achieving quality is the responsibility of each individual performing the work.
Rendering – The art of depicting forms, figures, and features on paper to illustrate visual conditions of a specific location or an area. A rendering may be displayed at presentations or included in study documents to portray the conditions that would result from the construction of a specific improvement at a site or in an area.
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU) – Enacted August 10, 2005, as Public Law 109-59. It authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period 2005-2009.
Significant Impacts – Any number of social, environmental, or economic effects or influences that may result from the implementation of a transportation improvement, classified as direct, secondary, or cumulative. The FHWA mandates environmental clearance documents based upon the significance of impacts. Categorical exclusions, for example, are those actions which do not involve significant effects. In most cases, Environmental Impact Statement projects do involve significant impacts.
Stakeholder – Anyone who could be affected by the project and has a stake in its outcome.
Stakeholder Involvement Plan (SIP) – A process that will facilitate effective identification and understanding of the concerns and values of all stakeholders as an integral part of the project development process. It includes a formal written plan explaining how public input and comments will be obtained.
State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) – The highway improvement program for the five to seven years beyond the current fiscal year. This document is published annually and includes all improvements of the state highway system, including construction, engineering and land acquisition for both state and local funded projects. See also Multi-Year Program.
Study Area – The geographic area within which pertinent project matters are contained. Originally defined at the outset of engineering and environmental evaluation, although it may be revised during development of the studies and the EIS.
Substantive Safety – the actual crash frequency and severity for a highway or roadway.
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) – Signed in 1998, this Federal legislation authorizes highway, highway safety, transit and other surface transportation programs for the next six years. TEA-21 continues and enhances initiatives established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), while assuring an annual level of Federal funding keyed to receipts of the Highway Trust Fund.
Transportation Systems Management – Strategies comprised of typically small improvements to the existing transportation system, such as the installation of dedicated turn lanes, construction of spot geometric changes, or the adjustment of signal timing to improve traffic flow.
Travel Demand Management – Policy changes such as alternative work times, ride-sharing or bicycle incentives that are implemented to influence travel behavior and spread travel demand across peak periods and reduce the demand for single-occupancy vehicle trips.
Unity – Measures the compositional harmony of the landscape or the degree of visual coherence when considered as a whole.
View – Aspects of the environment that a viewer can see from the study area and what the viewer can see of the project from nearby surroundings.
Viewer – Person who has views of or from the project. Viewers are discussed in terms of general categories of activities, such as resident, motorist, or pedestrian, and are often referred to as “viewer groups.”
Viewer Exposure – The exposure of a view shed. This is a function of the number of viewers, number of views seen, distance of the viewers, and viewing duration.
Viewer Sensitivity – The extent of the viewer’s concern for a particular view or view shed.
View shed – The area that a viewer can see from the project and surrounding area.
Viewpoint – An identified location and position of a viewer.
Visual Character – Impartially describes what exists within the landscape. Both natural and built landscape features and their relationships make up the character of an area or view. The perception of visual character can vary significantly between seasons and can even vary between hours as weather, light, shadow, and the elements that compose the view shed change. The basic components used to describe visual character for most visual assessments are the elements of form, line, color, and texture of the landscape features. To further define visual character, the appearance of the landscape is described in terms of its dominant features, scale, diversity, and continuity.
Visual Quality – An assessment of the visual character, which identifies the character-defining features for selected views.
Vividness – Describes how the elements of landform, water, vegetation, and human development combine to form a memorable composition.
Workshop – An informal working session at which individuals are given information about specific project issues and asked to generate possible solutions and recommendations.
AASHTO – American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
ADT – Average Daily Traffic
BMP – Best Management Practice
CA – Cooperating Agency
CE – Categorical Exclusion
CIA – Community Impact Assessment
CSD – Context Sensitive Design
CSS – Context Sensitive Solutions
CWG – Community Working Group
EA – Environmental Assessment
EIS – Environmental Impact Statement
ISO – International Standards Organization
ISTEA – Inter-modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
FHWA – Federal Highway Administration
FONSI – Finding of No Significant Impact
FWG – Focus Working Group
LOS – Level of Service
MPO – Metropolitan Planning Organization
NCHRP – National Cooperative Highway Research Program
NEPA – National Environmental Policy Act
NHS – National Highway System
PA – Participating Agency
PSG – Project Study Group
SAFETEA-LU – Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act