Because the PEL study was not included in the original scope of the project, the team had to quickly develop a solution to create a PEL study that satisfied NEPA standards. NEPA standards have no official approval process, but instead rely on a commenting process until the study is considered satisfactory, which can make it challenging to identify what information needs to be included. The team focused on the following deliverables to develop the PEL study:
- Crash analysis
- Development of project criteria
- Geometric alternatives
- Public involvement
- Scoring rubric
- Traffic analysis
In coordination with producing these deliverables, the Burns & McDonnell project team prepared a crash analysis technical memorandum to analyze over 750 crashes reported in the corridor in the most recent five years available. Investigations into noise, bridge conditions, environmental conditions and drainage characteristics were performed as well. Two public meetings — including one which was entirely virtual due to the pandemic — were conducted to share the results of the investigations. This approach helped interested parties and local officials better understand critical elements of the findings and offer additional input.