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Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) and the Environmental Screening Tool (EST)

Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) is an initiative of the Florida Department of Transportation. GeoPlan provides governmental and nonprofit agencies and the public with access to project plans and information about potential impacts on natural and manmade resources and communities. GeoPlan houses the digital databases of environmental and community resource information used in the project.

Project Background

In July 1999, Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which included Streamlining provisions relating to environmental permitting and review of transportation projects. That legislation prompted the State of Florida to implement a more efficient transportation planning and environmental review process - named ETDM. The overall intent of the ETDM process is to improve transportation decision-making in a way that protects the human and the natural environments. The approach includes active participation of federal, state, and local agencies, and the public. Early in the transportation planning process, resource agencies and the public interact with transportation planners to identify potential effects that the project may have on the community and the natural resources.

An innovative technology application, the Environmental Screening Tool (EST), provides a vital foundation to the new process, supporting agency participation and community involvement throughout the project life cycle. The EST is an Internet-accessible application that provides tools to input and update information about transportation projects, perform standardized analyses, gather and report comments about potential project effects, and provide information to the public. The EST brings together information about a project and provides analytical and visualization tools that help synthesize and communicate that information.

The EST allows resource and regulatory agencies (26 federal and state agencies and the general public) to provide the FDOT and MPO planners with official commentary on the potential impacts, permitting issues, things to avoid, and how to minimize impacts or mitigate for proposed transportation projects. The application also maintains a project diary of all the interactions for proposed transportation projects. In summary, the EST provides a single location where any one from anywhere can see everything about a project at any time.

The user community includes staff from 7 FDOT district offices, 26 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), approximately 26 resource agencies, and the general public.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed the EST with in-house staff, consultants, and the University of Florida GeoPlan Center. The application is deployed at the University of Florida in conjunction with the Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL), a repository of GIS data gathered from federal, state, and local governments. The application and all the data also reside at the University of Florida and are accessible to users with high-speed Internet access. This implementation location was selected because the user community consists of mainly non-FDOT personnel and the FDOT does not have the technological expertise to facilitate the necessary Internet based exchange.

ETDM Public Information Site (No login required):

Main ETDM EST Website (Login required):

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