Office of Environmental Management

FDOT Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM): Environmental Screening Tool

Florida's Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) process, developed in response to the Congress' "Environmental Streamlining" initiative, accomplishes major transportation project planning with early and continuous agency participation, efficient online electronically managed environmental review and meaningful dispute resolution mechanisms.  ETDM is carried out through the use of the Environmental Screening Tool (EST).

EST was developed by using a methodology of rapid software prototyping, frequent user feedback and flexible architecture designed to adapt to the ETDM evolution process. This resulted in an internet-accessible interactive database and mapping application which integrates: a geo-relational database of ETDM projects, over 550 environmental resource GIS data layers, an automated and standardized GIS-based environmental screening analysis application, and numerous tools for data entry, review, and reporting.  It is used throughout the ETDM Process to:

  • Integrate data from multiple sources into an easy to use, standard format
  • Analyze the effects of proposed projects on the human and natural environment
  • Communicate information effectively among Environmental Technical Advisory Team (ETAT) representatives and to the public
  • Store and report results of the ETAT review effectively and efficiently
  • Maintain project records, including commitments and responses, throughout the project life cycle

The EST manages early and efficient interaction with agencies and the affected community through two screening events which are completed and incorporated into the transportation planning process.  The screening events are known as the Planning and Programming Screens.  The EST brings together information about a project and provides analytical and visualization tools that help synthesize and communicate that information.  For over five years of operation with a user community of 1200 practitioners representing staff from 8 DOT Districts, 26 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), 24 federal and state resource agencies, two Tribal Governments and the countless representatives from the public, the EST has proved successful in supporting the ETDM process. Over 1500 projects have been entered in the EST database and over 350 of them have completed the environmental review process.

The EST is a customized Florida Department of Transportation solution implemented using industry-standard platform-independent development tools such as Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Java Script, Java Server Pages (JSP), and Extensible Markup Language (XML).  The EST was put into practice with an internal secure site facilitating formal agency review and an external presence for public review. It provides tools to efficiently load data, store results of environmental reviews, and provides information to the public. Information about the history of the project is carried forward in the process as the project moves from planning organizations, to design teams, to construction and maintenance.   Integrating agency owned resource and transportation sponsor project data from multiple sources into one standard format and providing quick and standardized analyses of the effects on natural, physical, cultural, and community resources is the cornerstone of this application.

The EST provides a single point of presence where all stakeholders have access to the same information at the same time for a singular and complete view of the project and any decisions, comments, and issues identified by any participants.   The EST provides mechanisms to view, input and update projects and community characteristics information, perform standardized or customized analyses, generate detailed reports of comments by the agency representatives, and offers read-only information to the public.  Its database maintains the complete project record throughout the life cycle of the project.

The EST leverages internet and GIS functionalities and provides innovative implementations designed to increase communication, reduce workload, combine processes, and reduce project delivery timelines.  Examples of innovative functions include:

  • Complete electronic process from the project concept, through formal review and environmental document generation.
  • Complete online project diary maintained, accessible, and milestoned at each major project decision
  • Traditional manual processes integrated into single screening event including; project Advance Notification process, federal consistency determination, local government comprehensive plan consistency, and class of action determination
  • Intuitive interface allowing the novice to expert user community the flexibility to review summary information or delve into details.
  • Uses multiple methods to support the user community including: fully staffed helpdesk, online "How To" step by step videos, monthly webinars, remote desktop support, FAQs, searchable online help,  and "what's new" messaging
  • Provides "On-the-fly" mapping up-to an E-size plot and provides mailing label generation from property appraiser databases
  • Entire site has been setup so every user can create their own profile of reports, tools, maps and datasets they need access to within the system
  • Integration with other systems providing access to project documents, video logs, and national register site files
  • Automatic electronic notifications keep  everyone up-to-date as projects move through the process

The flexible design of the Environmental Screening Tool makes it easily adapted and enhanced, allowing new tools and functions to be added without negatively affecting other tools already installed, much like adding a new tool to a toolbox.

The following website gives access to ETDM Public Web Site.  Look at the "Tabs" across the top portion of the Welcome Screen: Welcome, General Information, Project Diary, Project Effects and ETDM Maps.  Many important elements of the ETDM program and individual project are contained within this site.