interstate bridge over water


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Planning & Environmental Linkages

Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) studies represent a collaborative and integrated approach to transportation decision-making that considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process, and uses the information, analysis, and products developed during planning to inform the environmental review process.

A Planning & Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study is being prepared for the I-526 Lowcountry Corridor EAST

I-526 Lowcountry Corridor EAST (I-526 LCC EAST) project runs from approximately Virginia Avenue in North Charleston to US 17 in Mount Pleasant. Due to the major river crossings along the I-526 LCC EAST corridor, identifying feasible project alternatives and cost estimates are challenging without extensive planning efforts. Additionally, this corridor serves as a major economic connector in the lowcountry, linking the goods that flow to and from South Carolina’s busiest port terminal with Interstate 26 and other integral components of the state’s freight network. For these reasons, the I-526 LCC EAST project will move forward with a PEL Study. This will allow the project team to extensively study the challenges and opportunities present in the area, and will allow public engagement regarding possible solutions.

A PEL study is a collaborative approach to decision-making used to identify transportation issues and environmental concerns. This integrated approach considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the planning process and uses this information to streamline the transportation project development and environmental review process. The resulting information of a PEL study will be carried forward into the next phase of the project development process, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

PEL Study Benefits

As described by FHWA, potential benefits of a PEL study include:

  • Improved sharing of information
  • Elimination of duplicative efforts in planning and NEPA processes
  • Improved communication and stronger relationships
  • Early consultation and collaboration among stakeholders to identify potential impacts
  • Accelerated project delivery
  • Better environmental outcomes
  • Timely permit decisions
  • Mutually beneficial outcomes

The I-526 LCC EAST PEL study may result in the identification of multiple potential projects, such as intersection improvements or capacity improvements along the corridor, that could be phased and prioritized for implementation. This will help SCDOT understand the potential number of project packages, delivery methods, schedules, and costs to complete the improvements on this corridor.

I-526 LCC EAST PEL Process