Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Efficient Transportation Decision-Making (ETDM) Process

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Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Efficient Transportation Decision-Making Process (ETDM)




Implemented (at least in part).  Full implementation anticipated in 2004




Planning and Project Development



To address increasing demands for transportation efficiency, effectiveness, and timeliness FDOT decided to completely restructure their planning, programming, and environmental review process to achieve better environmental outcomes and more efficient transportation decision making (ETDM).



The decision-making process used to characterize needs and identify FDOT’s focus embodies the “Plan” steps of the EMS process.  FDOT’s identification of specific actions and development and implementation efforts highlight, in particular, the “Plan” and “Do” steps of the EMS process.  The “Check” and “Act” steps are being pursued as part of full implementation to optimize and, as applicable, expand the ETDM Process.




·          ETDM implementation will achieve considerable reductions in delays, late project changes, and challenges associated with project development.

·          The process is improving the quality of decisions and environmental investments, including:

o       Early identification of avoidance/minimization options,

o       Socioeconomic effects balanced with the natural environment,

o       Disputed projects/issues identified early-on and addressed before programming,

o       Attention focused on key technical issues - not on proving the negative,

o       Agencies and affected communities have ready access to quality data,

o       Summary reports provide feedback and facilitate continuous improvement.

·          The ETDM Process creates linkages between land use, transportation, and environmental resource planning initiatives through early, interactive agency involvement.  These linkages reduce the time and effort, and, in turn, the cost, to make transportation decisions.  These efforts also improve the quality of decisions.  Efficiency is gained by two screening events built into the current transportation planning process prior to programming and budgeting. (See examples provided.)

·          The ETDM process, through the planning and programming screen, enables resource agencies to agree to permits at a much earlier stage in the planning process.

·          Schedules are advanced and resources are more efficiently used because FDOT’s Project Manager develops scopes of services in which alternatives have already been screened for environmental concerns and resolution.  Any remaining technical studies to be conducted are more focused and do not need to prove the negative/absence of environmental effects.



Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Efficient Transportation Decision-Making Process (ETDM)



The Florida Geographical Data Library provides a foundation for the ETDM process.  It facilitates continuous input from resource agencies and quality review and refinement of all FDOT projects using a base of resource agency data, FDOT/MPO projects and plans, and community characteristics.  It facilitates public access, performs GIS analyses, and tracks commitments and recommendations made throughout the environmental review and decision- making process.


Features of the new ETDM Process that are keys to success include:

·          Early and continuous involvement of the agencies and community citizens in decision making.

·          Early identification of avoidance, minimization, or mitigation requirements (as well as identification of enhanced or positive benefits).

·          Linkages between land use, transportation and environmental protection, or preservation efforts.

·          Access to comprehensive data in standardized formats.

·          Reviews focused on the key issues identified by an interagency Environmental Technical Advisory Team (ETAT).  Early project approvals for less complex projects.  Reduction in the number of projects subject to detailed reviews.

·          Permit issuance linked to NEPA reviews for more complex projects.

·          Maximize use of electronic technology for coordination to minimize burdensome paper trails.



Agency Operating Agreements (AOAs) are currently in review or under development and are anticipated to be executed by the end of 2003.  It is the intent of these AOAs to implement the ETDM Process for all transportation projects in Florida that require coordination, consultation, and compliance approval from transportation and environmental resource and permitting agencies.  



The ETDM Process uses two screening events, one at the long-range transportation plan (RTP) and the other prior to the development of FDOT’s Work Program.  Environmental Technical Advisory Teams (ETATs) are located in each of FDOT’s seven geographic districts.  The ETAT, consisting of FDOT district staff, MPO staff, and resource agency planning and permitting staff, will coordinate and consult through the use of the two screening events.


The planning screening event improves the consideration of mitigation and corridor alternatives, and improves estimation of project costs.  Secondary and cumulative effects are evaluated on a project and system-wide basis in connection with the planning screen, so that the interrelationships among land use, ecosystem management, and mobility plans can be considered in integrated planning across the agencies.




Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Efficient Transportation Decision-Making Process (ETDM)



The programming screen occurs before projects enter the FDOT Work Program, and initiates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for projects that have not been categorically excluded.  The ETAT input provides “agency scoping” requirements to satisfy NEPA and other pertinent laws, etc., that are addressed during the NEPA process.  ETAT members coordinate with FDOT’s project managers during project development and coordinate within their agency to issue construction permits simultaneously with the federal NEPA approvals, including Record of Decision.


An electronic database system provides the vehicle for information exchange to and from ETAT members regarding project plans, degrees of effect assessed, and agency recommendations or requirements. The database system is housed at the University of Florida GeoPlan Center, and all project and resource data resides in the GeoPlan Center’s Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL).  GIS analyses are performed within the FGDL system so agency ETAT members only need an Internet connection to view and comment on GIS results. 



A more detailed overview of the ETDM program can be requested from:


Leroy Irwin, Manager, Environmental Management Office,




The first slide illustrates the overall ETDM Process developed by FDOT.


The next slide presents the Home Page for the ETDM Environmental Screening Tool.  To maximize planning efficiency and effectiveness, this Tool can be used by FDOT staff and concerned stakeholders (including residents and regulators) to review transportation plans and the areas affected by these plans.  The following two slides show map links available on this Tool.  This Tool presents Degrees of Effect on Resources.  The Degrees of Effect are assessed and color coded for easy comparison of alternatives within the ETDM system: 

·          Blue = Enhanced — Positive Effect on Resources

·          Green = Minimum/None  — Little Adverse Effect on Resources

·          Yellow= Moderate — Resources are affected; avoidance, minimization options available

·          Orange= Substantial — ETAT understands project need; substantial interaction required; avoidance, minimization, mitigation

·          Red= Potential Dispute — Does not conform to agency requirements

Programming Screen disputes must be resolved before the project advances into the Work Program.


The next slide (ETAT Reviews) provides an example of the interactive, web-based tool that is used to identify and characterize potential effects of a project in the early planning stages so that issues are identified and resolved early-on.




Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Efficient Transportation Decision-Making Process (ETDM)



The last slide (ETDM Planning Screen Summary Report) presents an example of the summary information available for review by concerned parties.  The availability of this information speeds project review, planning, and decision-making.