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Tennessee Environmental Procedures Manual

Chapter 1: Environmental Regulations and The Environmental Evaluation Process

1.4 SMART Delivery Management System

TDOT is undertaking a department-wide effort to improve communication with Tennessee communities and TDOT's environmental resource agency partners and engage them more proactively in the department's transportation project delivery process. Reflective of this initiative is an increased focus within TDOT on:

  • Environmental stewardship;
  • Integrating environmental planning expertise into the project development process earlier;
  • Increasing local and regional involvement in transportation decisions; and
  • Engaging state and federal resource agencies as early as possible in the transportation decision making process.

A critical component of this initiative is the SMART Delivery Management System (SDMS), formerly known as the Statewide Environmental Management System (SEMS). The SDMS program includes enhanced business processes focused on multi-agency communication and collaboration, deployment of a set of shared GIS-based analysis tools, a workflow and tracking application to facilitate key transportation decision-making processes.

TDOT initiated the planning phase for the SDMS program in January 2006. During the planning phase, TDOT identified key business drivers related to the transportation project delivery process, reviewed best practices of environmental management systems (EMS) in other states and private sector organizations, and designed new business processes to address TDOT's key business drivers, which are consistent with national best practices. The Department has focused on three core business processes for the initial deployment of SDMS:

  • Integration of transportation planning and project delivery;
  • Linking of the environmental review and permitting processes through a multi-agency collaborative decision making process; and
  • Ensuring and monitoring the fulfillment of commitments made to resource agencies and others across the transportation lifecycle.

These core processes are described below.

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1.4.1 Integration of Transportation Planning and Project Delivery

This process involves enhancing existing TDOT Planning, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Rural Planning Organization (RPO) work processes to capture and make available various data from the transportation planning process for use in the project development process. This process will include identifying environmental and other planning level data using standardized tools and templates and storing the data within SDMS. The data is thus available through SDMS for later project level analysis and providing TDOT Long Range Planning and Project Planning staff, MPOs, RPOs and other agencies access to the SDMS shared data repository and data analysis capability.

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1.4.2 Linking the Environmental Review and Permitting Processes through a Multi-agency Collaborative Decision Making Process

In parallel with the SDMS initiative, TDOT has undertaken efforts to streamline project delivery through development and implementation of the Tennessee Environmental Streamlining Agreement (TESA) for the Environmental and Regulatory Coordination of Major Transportation Projects. The TESA was developed by TDOT and the FHWA Tennessee division office in cooperation with state and federal resource agencies that participate in, review, and approve various aspects of TDOT's proposed transportation projects under NEPA. Section 4.5 of this Procedures Manual describes the application of the TESA process to the environmental review of individual projects.

TESA demonstrates fulfillment of the provisions of Section 6002 of the federal SAFETEA-LU legislation, "Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decision-making." In developing TESA, TDOT is one of a handful of state departments of transportation who have taken this comprehensive, integrated approach to significantly reduce the time and, in turn the cost, of transportation project development and review.

TDOT plans to use SDMS to facilitate the implementation and use of TESA in several ways. Key features of SDMS include providing the technology and tools to capture, maintain, expand upon, and share project environmental information and details between agencies; and establishing the detailed procedures to implement and monitor performance in meeting expectations and requirements agreed to by TDOT and the various partner agencies under TESA.

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1.4.3 Ensuring and Monitoring the Fulfillment of Commitments across the Transportation Lifecycle

TDOT's initiatives to enhance project delivery are dependent, in part, on the trust and understanding of its partner agencies and other stakeholders that TDOT will meet the environmental promises (i.e., commitments) that have been made during project development. It has been shown in TDOT and in virtually every state department of transportation across the United States, that consistent fulfillment of these promises/commitments is linked directly to the willingness of agencies and stakeholders to accept project development and design proposals presented by TDOT for other projects. This willingness (or lack thereof) in turn affects the time spent in and the number of reviews performed by agencies and stakeholders.

SDMS will help to ensure that TDOT will meet its environmental commitments through the following features:

  • Adapting existing mechanisms to share NEPA and other project environmental commitments with all responsible parties;
  • Working with a cross-functional team of TDOT and partner agency representatives to develop and apply mechanisms and tools to monitor and verify commitments implementation;
  • Providing a means for resource agencies to acknowledge that commitments have been fulfilled; and
  • Monitoring TDOT's commitments performance and making adjustments as required to sustain and improve performance.
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1.4.4 SDMS Components

The core SDMS application will include a shared GIS-based database of environmental data, a set of GIS analysis tools, a workflow engine to drive review and decision-making activities, and a project repository and web-based collaboration environment to allow the review of data and documents.

The SDMS will have a variety of users, including TDOT staff, state and federal resource agency staff, and MPO and RPO staff among others. It is also expected that public access will be available to some of the information within SDMS to improve information sharing with citizens about the status of project development activities.

The SDMS database is also envisioned to have a substantive interface with TDOT's existing Program Project Resource Management (PPRM) system.

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