July 22, 2019Meet Leigh Lane, Head of ELR’s new NEPA Planning Services
E.L. Robinson Engineering (ELR) is pleased to introduce Ms. Leigh Lane as our new National Director of Transportation Planning. Ms. Lane is bringing over 30 years of experience in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) planning to ELR to expand our service offerings to current and future clients.
NEPA, passed into law in 1970, is applicable to federal actions and focuses on protecting and preserving both the human and natural environments. Before a federal action can be approved to build a transportation project, NEPA’s multi-faceted, comprehensive, and context-driven decision-making process must be followed before plans are finalized and construction begins. NEPA’s goal is to protect, restore, and enhance our environment. ELR supports that goal and is now taking the next step by offering environmental planning services in-house under the leadership of Ms. Lane, a strong, nationally recognized NEPA expert. Following in NEPA’s footsteps, several states have also established similar state specific policies. Ms. Lane is proficient in North Carolina’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) analysis, interpretation, and application.
Over the course of her 30-year career, Ms. Lane has led numerous NEPA studies (including all Class of Actions) on a range of different types and scales of highway projects. She is currently managing one of NCDOT’s largest transportation investments – the Kinston US 70 Bypass (22-miles on new location with 12 alternatives).
Kinston US 70 Bypass Alternatives Map
Ms. Lane shares her extensive knowledge through teaching and is one of the National Highway Institutes Certified Trainers. Currently, she has developed a NEPA/SEPA 101 Understanding the Basics course for the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)’s Environmental Policy Unit and is teaching it to NCDOT Central and Division staff. Ms. Lane also uses her “in the trenches” NEPA experiences to shape national policy, research and education in the areas of environmental streamlining, context sensitive solutions, community impact assessment, environmental justice and quality of life performance measures. This includes providing technical assistance/training to more than 20 state transportation agencies on related topics. She has been the Principle Investigator for numerous National Cooperative Highway Research Projects (NCHRP) including several Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) human environmental policy projects which lead to several Transportation Research Board committee appointments.Now, she leads ELR in becoming known as a thorough, laser focused team that understands the complexities of the NEPA environmental review process including all associated environmental regulations through project management and training services as well as targeted technical assistance to expedite project delivery through trouble shooting.
Expediting project delivery has become a cornerstone of a successful project development process. Planning with NEPA in mind and using a context sensitive solutions (CSS) approach are two very important aspects of accelerating project delivery. Ms. Lane has developed CSS training which has been delivered to more than 1,500 transportation professionals and resource agencies including assisting FHWA with the development of the National Highway Institute CSS Course.
In addition, she is developing NCDOT’s Planning and Environmental Linkages (Integration) course.Planning and Environmental Linkages, or PEL, is an approach to transportation decision making which is both collaborative and integrated. Using PEL, agencies can agree to the purpose and need of a project, determine alternatives, and begin public involvement and documentation of decisions along the way.PEL plans consider many factors, including environmental, economic goals, and those of the community to inform the entire environmental review process. This process involves NEPA practitioners like Ms. Lane, transportation planners, the public, and resource agency staff. Combining policy and delivery experience has been one of the many hallmarks of Ms. Lane’s exemplary success.
Clients of ELR can be confident in the careful scrutiny and reliability that Ms. Lane brings to the project. Being assured, upfront, that projects are in compliance, or even exceed compliance, allows the projects to be viewed as community assets. This generates goodwill for projects, and Ms. Lane is adept in public outreach and public involvement. Her professionalism allows both clients and communities to rest assured that a project will meet transportation needs in a manner considerate of the environment and public interests. Ms. Lane’s knowledge and expertise positions EL Robinson as a market leader in specialized NEPA and SEPA services.
Ms. Lane’s National Research Projects:
- NCHRP 25-25; Task 105: A Guidebook for Communications between Transportation and Public Heath Communities (Subject Matter Expert)
- NCHRP 15-52: Developing a Context-Sensitive Functional Classification System for More Flexibility in Geometric Design (Panel Member)
- NCHRP 08-100: Environmental Justice Analyses When Considering Toll Implementation or Rate Changes (Subject Matter Expert)
- NCHRP Project 08-68: Going the Distance Together: A Citizen’s Guide to Context Sensitive Solutions for Better Transportation (Co-Principal Investigator)
- NCHRP Synthesis 20-5 / Topic 37-01: Synthesis Project entitled Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Context Sensitive Solutions (Principal Investigator)
- NCHRP 25-25, Task 69: Defining Community Context in Transportation Project Planning and Development Process (Principal Investigator)
- NCHRP 25-25; Task 62: Improving the Effectiveness of Outreach to Traditional and Non-Traditional Groups by Integrating the Expertise of Existing and Emerging Citizen Coalitions into Transportation Analysis Decision Making (Principal Investigator)
- Task 32: Public Transportation Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics (Subject Matter Expert)
- NCHRP 08-36; Task 66: Improved Methods for Assessing Social, Cultural, and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects (Principal Investigator)
- NCHRP 08-41; Report #532: Effective Methods for Environmental Justice Assessment (Panel Member)
- NCHRP 08-36; Task 11: Technical Methods to Support Analysis of Environmental-Justice Issues (Panel Member)
- NCHRP 25-19; Report #456: Guidebook for Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects (Panel Member/Subject Matter Advisor)
- SHRP 2 C08- Community Visioning Approach to Support the SHRP 2 Collaborative Decision-Making Framework for Additions to Highway (Subject Matter Expert)
- Southeastern Transportation Research Innovation Development and Education Center Livability Performance Measures for Transportation Plans and Projects (Principal Investigator)
- FHWA Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Performance Management Guidebook (Subject Matter Expert)
- FHWA Task Order: Methods for Gauging Livability Improvements-Community Vision Metrics (Principal Investigator)