The Alternative Corridor Evaluation (ACE) process is conducted to identify, evaluate, eliminate and recommend reasonable alternatives to be considered for additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis in the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) phase. The SR 56 Extension ACE Study will:
- Establish or refine the project’s Purpose and Need
- Document the general environmental setting for the project
- Identify any potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures
- Evaluate engineering feasibility at a conceptual level and
- Recommend alternative corridors and/or preliminary improvements to address project need.
A Methodology Memorandum (MM) will be developed as part of the ACE process. The MM will outline the analysis methodology that will be used to refine and eliminate corridor alternatives. The project team will meet with various federal, state, and local agencies as well as other interested parties and members of the public throughout the process to obtain comments. Following approval of the MM by FDOT’s Office of Environmental Management (OEM), an Alternative Corridor Evaluation Report (ACER) will be prepared, which may recommend feasible alternative corridors to be considered for further evaluation.
Project Development Process
A project begins with the identification of transportation needs or deficiencies through a planning process that prioritizes short- and long-range transportation improvements. The project planning process typically begins when Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Transportation Planning Organizations (MPOs/TPOs), FDOT, and other authorities identify transportation needs and projects that would meet those needs. The following planning products assist in documenting transportation needs: Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTP), Cost Feasible Plans (CFP), Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) Plans, Transit Development Plans (TDP), Local Government Comprehensive Plans (LGCP), Municipal or Citywide Transportation Master Plans, and corridor planning studies.
At the MPO level, project needs are matched and prioritized to available funding for projects in the MPO/TPO LRTP. At the state level, FDOT develops cost‐feasible plans for the State Highway System (SHS). Priority projects are selected annually from these cost‐feasible plans and are presented to the Florida Legislature as a tentative Five-Year Work Program. Projects included in the Work Program and approved by the legislature may wait for funding for up to five years before significant work can proceed. FDOT coordinates with the various MPOs/TPOs and local stakeholders throughout the state to develop a vision for the State’s transportation system. This includes the establishment of goals, objectives and policies to sustain and support the growth of the State’s population and economy.
ACE studies are performed within the Planning phase to define project parameters, the project definition and the purpose and need for the project. The SR 56 Extension ACE Study is part of the Planning phase of the project development process. Ultimately, the study will be used to identify, evaluate, eliminate and recommend project alternatives prior to the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) phase.
Some of the improvements that are recommended based on the findings of this study can be prioritized at the local level or through the FDOT’s Five-Year Work Program. These improvements may include: turn-lane improvements, pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, signal retiming, transit stop amenities, etc.