What Is a PEL?
Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study for the State College Area Connector will allow PennDOT and FHWA to make system-level decisions that will help shape individual projects throughout the corridor as they are developed and constructed over time. It is critical to identify important resources within the corridor early in the process to allow time to develop potential solutions that avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts to these resources. The PEL Study will evaluate the safety, capacity, infrastructure, and other topics regarding southern Centre County.
What is the Process for Advancing Transportation Projects?
Transportation projects advance through five phases before they are able to be used by the traveling public. Click below to learn more about the various phases.
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A PEL study is a high-level, early-planning study process to transportation decision making that considers environmental, community, and economic goals early in the planning stage, resulting in projects that can be carried through design and construction. Public and agency involvement is conducted throughout this phase. Overall, the PEL study helps inform planning decisions, streamline the project delivery process, and can serve as a way for the public to discuss and prioritize transportation issues.
Preliminary engineering includes focused studies about traffic, safety, the environment, and the development of project alternatives. The information collected helps FHWA and PennDOT make decisions about the specific improvements needed to improve the transportation network. Assessments are also conducted to determine the benefits and impacts the alternatives would have on natural, cultural, and socio-economic environments. Public and agency involvement is conducted through this phase. The preliminary engineering/environmental studies phase ends with the selection of an alternative to advance into final design. Approval from FHWA must be received at the end of the preliminary engineering/environmental studies phase prior to advancing into final engineering design.
During final engineering design, the selected project alternative design plans are refined to identify right-of-way requirements and are detailed enough to construct the project. Mitigation commitments will also be implemented. Environmental permitting and detailed utility coordination will occur during this phase.
When project impacts to private property including homes and businesses are unavoidable, PennDOT will determine the Fair Market Value and negotiate the acquisition of property within the required right-of-way. When the acquisition of property results in the need for a property owner to relocate, PennDOT provides relocation assistance to those whose property is acquired (See the FAQ page for information on acquisition).
Once final engineering design is complete and the right-of-way has been acquired, PennDOT will solicit bids and award construction contracts.& Depending on the scale of the proposed improvements, multiple contracts may be developed to construct the overall project. Often, the first contracts awarded are smaller "early action" contracts that involve improvements that will help better accommodate traffic during subsequent construction projects. Staging of the subsequent contracts will also be developed to safely convey traffic through the work zone and minimize travel time delays through and around the project area. Upon completion of the project, the needs and concerns identified in the early stages of the process will have been addressed by the newly constructed improvements to the transportation system.