Environmental Coordination for Long-Range Planning
Environmental Coordination, Mapping, and Mitigation Discussion
The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB), as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Baltimore region, is required to consult, as appropriate, with State and local agencies responsible for land use management, natural resources, environmental protection, conservation, and historic preservation concerning the development of long-range transportation plans (23 C.F.R. § 450.322(g)).
To meet these requirements during the development of the region’s current long range transportation plan, Plan It 2035 , the BRTB consulted with natural and historic resource agencies and other partners. This environmental consultation process was in-depth and communicative, with the goals of:
- Determining potential mitigation areas and types.
- Identifying opportunities for linking transportation planning and the NEPA process.
- Educating resource agencies about the long-range planning process and planning products
- Educating local project sponsors about the NEPA process for transportation projects, as well as conservation and mitigation methods when planning transportation projects
Environmental Coordination and Mapping
Environmental coordination and consultation for Plan It 2035 was initiated in the spring of 2011 through several BRTB activities and events: agency interviews, a webinar, and an environmental coordination forum. The forum was held at the BMC offices on May 11, 2011, with 23 participants from around the Baltimore region. One of the purposes of the forum was to identify challenges to the integration of long range transportation planning and environmental planning in the Baltimore region, and to discover ways to address this challenge.
Agencies involved in the required environmental coordination process for Plan It2035 are indicated in the table below.
Agencies Involved in Environmental Coordination for Plan It 2035
- Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (www.baltometro.org)
- Maryland State Highway Administration (www.marylandroads.com)
- Maryland Transit Administration (http://mta.maryland.gov/)
- Maryland Transportation Authority (http://mdta.maryland.gov/)
- U.S. DOT, Federal Highway Administration, DelMar Division (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/demddiv/)
- Maryland Dept. of Environment (www.mde.state.md.us/)
- Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources (www.dnr.state.md.us/)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (www.fws.gov/)
- Maryland Dept. of Planning (www.mdp.state.md.us/)
- Maryland Historical Trust, MDP (www.mht.maryland.gov/)
- U.S. EPA, Region 3 (www.epa.gov/region03/index.htm)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (www.usace.army.mil/Pages/default.aspx)
- Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/criticalarea/)
During the environmental coordination process for the plan, BMC staff shared maps with coordination partners which showed various natural and historic resource data overlaid with projects submitted for inclusion in the plan.
Once the preferred alternative was determined, the set of maps was updated to include the refined set of transportation projects, and it was shared with consultation agencies. View the maps created for Plan It 2035.
Also as a result of SAFETEA-LU, long-range transportation plans must include a "discussion of types of potential environmental mitigation activities and potential areas to carry out these activities, including activities that may have the greatest potential to restore and maintain the environmental functions affected by the metropolitan transportation plan." Additional federal requirements of this mitigation portion of a long range transportation plan include the following.
- The mitigation discussion may focus on policies, programs, or strategies, rather than at the project level.
- The mitigation discussion shall be developed in consultation with Federal, State, and Tribal land management, wildlife, and regulatory agencies.
- The MPO may establish reasonable timeframes for performing this consultation.
BMC staff consulted with SHA and other coordination partners to gather information on mitigation activities, plans and requirements. Access the resulting mitigation discussion included in Appendix E of Plan It 2035 (pdf).