Vemco Development Process
After a project has been drafted for implementation, it moves into the project development phase. At this stage, the environmental analysis intensifies. The level of environmental review varies widely, depending on the scale and impact of the project. It can range from a multiyear effort to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (a comprehensive document that analyzes the potential impact of proposed alternatives) to a modest environmental review completed in a matter of weeks. Regardless of the level of detail or duration, the product of the project development process generally includes a description of the location and major design features of the recommended project that is to be further designed and constructed, while continually trying to avoid, minimize, and mitigate environmental impact.
The basic steps in this stage include the following:
- Refinement of purpose and need
- Development of a range of alternatives (including the “nobuild” and traffic management system [TMS] options)
- Evaluation of alternatives and their impact on the natural and built environments
- Development of appropriate mitigation
In general, decisions made at the project development level help to define the major features of the resulting project through the remainder of the design and construction process. For example, if the project development process determines that an improvement needs to take the form of a four lane divided arterial highway, it may be difficult in the design phase to justify providing only a two lane highway. Similarly, if the project development phase determines that an existing truss bridge cannot be rehabilitated at a reasonable cost to provide the necessary capacity, then it may be difficult to justify keeping the existing bridge without investing in the cost of a totally new structure.
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