What is a PD&E Study?
FDOT developed the PD&E process to ensure that projects receiving federal funds follow federal guidelines and policies. A PD&E Study is a blending of engineering, environmental assessments and public involvement activities. The process is a set of procedures used by engineers and planners to develop transportation improvements that incorporate community and agency input, minimize effects to the natural and social environment, and provide viable engineering and transportation solutions.
The elements of a PD&E Study are discussed in the following sections.
Data Collection involves researching and documenting items such as existing roadway characteristics, traffic data, land use designations, drainage patterns and natural physical and social environmental conditions. The information collected during this stage is used as the basis from which all potential improvements are developed.
Engineering Analysis/Concept Development occurs after data collection phase. This involves developing concepts that meet the project objective in an environmentally responsible, socially acceptable and cost feasible manner, consistent with public and agency input.
Environmental Evaluations occur prior to and in tandem with concept development. These evaluations research and document various natural environmental features including wildlife habitat, public lands, and wetland locations. This information aids in the development of alternative concepts that minimize impacts to the natural environment.
Public Involvement entails public meetings, small group meetings, elected/appointed officials involvement, stakeholder coordination and extensive community outreach. Public Involvement is an ongoing effort that continues throughout the duration of the study. A Public Meeting is anticipated in early 2012 and a Public Hearing will take place towards the end of the study in late 2012.
Agency Coordination takes place throughout the duration of the study. This involves coordination and information sharing meetings regarding various elements of the project.
Final Approval occurs following the Public Hearing. This involves finalizing and submitting project reports to the Federal Highway Administration for review and approval. Once approved, the PD&E Study phase of the project will be complete and the project will move into final design..
It should be noted that the No-Build Alternative is considered a viable option throughout the study process. This alternative assumes that the existing conditions will remain and no improvements be implemented. This alternative is often used to compare the costs and benefits of implementing proposed improvements versus the alternative of continuing to use the existing facility. For this project, the No-Build Alternative includes any interim improvements that have been planned, or are being implemented independent of the recommendations from this PD&E study.