Challenges and opportunities in environmental planning and permitting on transportation design-build projects
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Environmental planning and permitting for transportation projects is often seen as one of the top reasons for project delay. On design-build projects, this process is often treated as the critical path to advertising the project and on all transportation projects many critical phases of the project such as right of way acquisition, final design, and construction cannot begin until the environmental planning process is complete. The objective of this research is to identify challenges to the environmental planning and permitting process and opportunities for managing those challenges. To identify these challenges and opportunities, a synthesis of transportation and design-build research was done along with interviews with agencies leaders at seven State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). Once these challenges and opportunities were identified, example environmental planning documents and requests for proposals were reviewed from various State DOTs to document their usage. Additionally follow up interviews were conducted with environmental planning experts with experience on design-build projects from six of the State DOTs that were previously interviewed. This research contributes to the state of knowledge through providing comprehensive information on environmental planning and permitting challenges that must be managed on design-build transportation projects and opportunities for managing these challenges. Managing the identified challenges by utilizing these opportunities provides transportation agencies with opportunities to make the environmental planning and permitting process on design-build projects more efficient. This research contributes to the state of practice of transportation agencies through providing opportunities for streamlining environmental analysis and permitting that is vital to transportation agencies who strive to accelerate the delivery of design-build projects.