California Department of Transportation

Project Development Workflow Tasks (PDWT)

Part 3 - Identify Project Need and Project Initiation Document

II. Project Initiation Document

B. Develop Initial Alternatives (150.10) - Develop Concept Alternatives (WBS 150.10.15)

P56. Prepare Preliminary Environmental Study Limits

The (PESL) mapping, represents the overall footprint for environmental issues that will be studied for the project. This footprint will include any areas of disturbances including areas of temporary use (such as areas needed for staged construction) as well as areas of permanent disturbance for all alternatives. The purpose and need and the project limits should be identified before ESL map preparation can begin. At the PID phase, the ESL map will be preliminary and will continue to be refined through the Environmental phase.

Mapping should include aerial photos (scale: 1/200) of the project, beginning and ending post kilometers/miles and the names of cross roads or other distinguishing landmarks. Mapping should also include all alternatives and should be discussed with the Environmental PDT representative and the project manager. ESL mapping may include:

  • Proposed Layout Plan or strip map for each alternative
  • Preliminary Typical Cross Sections
  • Preliminary Profiles
  • Aerial Photos (Highway Inventory Photos)
  • Site photos or video
  • Assessor’s Parcel Maps
  • Right of Way Record Maps (Cadastral maps)
  • Proposed Right of Way Requirement maps
  • Descartes Adjusted Images
  • Satellite Images
  • Contour Maps
  • USGS Topographic Quadrangle Maps

The footprint of area that will be impacted by the project will be greater than just the area of proposed roadway construction. Below is a list items that should be shown on the ESL mapping to insure that the PEAR would contain thorough and accurate information.

  • Proposed alternatives.
  • Existing and proposed right of way, and easements.
  • Topographic elevations and topographic features.
  • Areas of disturbed soil caused by Right of Way demolition activities prior to project construction.
  • Trees and areas of natural vegetation.
  • Limits of cuts and fills.
  • Landscaped areas.
  • Parks.
  • School Zones
  • Lakes, streams, rivers, canals, drainage areas, wetlands, vernal pools, estuaries.
  • Adjacent residential or business areas.
  • Cemeteries.
  • Areas that may be affected by utility relocations.
  • Gas stations.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle routes.
  • Temporary detours.

The more complete the ESL mapping that is provided with the Environmental Studies Request, the more complete and accurate the Project Environmental Analysis Report (PEAR.) results will be. Poor and incomplete Environmental Study Limits mapping submitted by the project engineer will cause the PEAR to be based on worst-case impact assumptions resulting in lengthy PA&ED phase timeframes and high mitigation cost estimates.

This task is not required if the District Environmental Manager and FHWA determines and certifies that the project is Categorical Exempt/Excluded from the requirements of CEQA and NEPA.


Standard Environmental Reference (SER); (“Guidelines for the Preparation of the Preliminary Environmental Analysis Report”)


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This page last updated October 20, 2010