Before federally funded transportation infrastructure projects can be designed and built, they must comply with the requirements established by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). One of the greatest challenges facing the NEPA project manager at both government agencies and private-sector consulting firms is how to analyze the vast amounts of data from disciplines ranging from archaeology to zoology within the budget and schedule constraints of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Increasingly, the answer is to use a geographic information system (GIS). Creating a GIS database is the most expensive part of any GIS project, usually accounting for two-thirds or more of overall costs. There are three sources of GIS data: government agencies, commercial vendors, and architectural and engineering firms' own in-house development. Until recently, the time and expense required to prepare a GIS database from scratch often dissuaded NEPA project managers from applying GIS to their projects. However, the phenomenal growth of GIS among government agencies has ameliorated this problem. Falling computer hardware prices, coupled with better hardware performance and the availability of increasingly sophisticated software that is easy to use, are making it easier than ever to own and operate a GIS. This trend, paired with the explosion in spatial data generated by government agencies and commercial firms, will make the use of a GIS increasingly attractive to engineers charged with conducting NEPA studies for transportation projects.


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  • Accession Number: 00779681
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 20 1999 12:00AM