Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL)

Use this guidance to determine if a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study is right for your planning effort and to assist you throughout the PEL process.

What is PEL?

Federal PEL studies use a collaborative and integrated approach to transportation decision making that considers environmental, community, and economic benefits and impacts early in the transportation planning process. PEL uses information, analysis, and products developed during planning to inform environmental review. PEL is a bridge (or “link”) between planning and environmental studies.

A PEL study can improve information sharing, create efficiencies, build better communication, initiate early consultation and collaboration with FHWA and other agencies, tribes, and stakeholders, and result in better environmental outcomes, expedited permit decisions, and accelerated project delivery. The NEPA & SEPA webpage has more information on the environmental review process.  

We partner with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) or the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on PEL studies. The FHWA PEL webpage includes additional PEL information and resources.

View this recorded introductory PEL training for an overview of the federal PEL requirements. WSP provided this training to WSDOT staff in October 2021.

The PEL Process

This WSDOT PEL process tool highlights the process, interim steps, and key deliverables of a PEL study.

The WSDOT PEL Questionnaire helps teams scope and develop a PEL project and is recommended to use and revisit throughout the PEL process. The Questionnaire documents important decision-making throughout the PEL process, as well as outreach and engagement with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies, stakeholders, and the public, consideration of key environmental factors, and the development of a range of reasonable alternatives to use or adopt into the future environmental review. For more information on requirements for PEL, see Chapter 200 of the Environmental Manual.

Contact WSDOT’s NEPA & PEL Specialist to discuss whether a PEL study will meet your needs and to develop a PEL study strategy, if appropriate.

Slow down – lives are on the line.

In 2022, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Each year about 670 people are killed nationally in highway work zones. In 2022, Washington had six fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.