Transportation Corridor Impact Assessment:
A Regulatory Process and an Associated Analytical Tool
ROBERT S. DE SANTO
De Leuw, Cather & Company, 290 Roberts St., East Hartford, CT 06118, USA
ABSTRACT: Turtle conservation in the United States may be influenced by the environmental assessment process, a cornerstone of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If wetlands are affected, the Clean Water Act requires a federal permit, over which the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) has jurisdiction. Accordingly, USACOE has published a Highway Methodology, authored by its New England Division, which now guides the preparation of assessments required as part of its permit process in New England.
In practice, the regulatory processes for environmental protection in the United States have revealed a genuine conflict between socioeconomic and cultural resource preservation and environmental conservation. Project alternatives that may be preferred for cultural (i.e., social) resource management and protection are frequently the least desirable from a natural resource preservation perspective. Conversely, alternatives preferred from an environmental conservation perspective are often undesirable for socioeconomic and cultural reasons.
Emphasizing the function and value of habitats, especially wetlands and water courses, the Highway Methodology has been adapted with computer-aided drafting and design (CAD) and geographic information systems (GIS) to help describe complex natural and human environments so that a consensus may be built among developers, regulators, and the public when searching for project alternatives.
The Highway Methodology described in this paper was designed to be unbiased; it has been used to clarify impacts associated with large transportation-related projects (i.e., major railroads and highways). Examples of resource mapping and the checklists and forms used to guide assessments of wetland function and value are provided.