Segmentation and Logical Termini

The WEP lacks logical termini.

Western Terminus:

Eastern Terminus:

north-south road termini:


The WEP does not have substantial independent utility.

1986 request for Beltline interchange:

2001 WEP System Cost:

Beltline / Roosevelt intersection:

Highway 99 (6th / 7th)


The proposed WEP forecloses the opportunity to consider alternatives.

West Eugene Charette alternative


The WEP would irretrievably commit federal funds for a closely related project.

Beltline project approved in 1995.

Beltine / I-5 project

Beltline - River Road to Coburg Road (pending)

"A project may be properly segmented, however, if the segments (1) have logical termini; (2) have substantial independent utility; (3) do not foreclose the opportunity to consider alternatives; and (4) do not irretrievably commit federal funds for closely related projects."

v. Nos. 97-3240, 97-3278
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION; DAVID GEIGER, in his official capacity as Division Adminstrator, Federal Highway Administration; MARK BUHLER, TOM TAUL, DEAN NIEDER, in their official capacities as County Commissioners of Douglas County, Kansas; and E. DEAN CARLSON, in his official capacity as Kansas Secretary of Transportation.

(D.C. No. 97-CV-2132)
(972 F.Supp. 552)

The Development of Logical Project Termini: FHWA Environmental Guidebook

I. Introduction
In developing a project concept which can be advanced through the stages of planning, environment, design, and construction, the project sponsor needs to consider a "whole" or integrated project. This project should satisfy an identified need, such as safety, rehabilitation, economic development, or capacity improvements, and should be considered in the context of the local area socio-economics and topography, the future travel demand, and other infrastructure improvements in the area. Without framing a project in this way, proposed improvements may miss the mark by only peripherally satisfying the need or by causing unexpected side effects which require additional corrective action. A problem of "segmentation" may also occur where a transportation need extends throughout an entire corridor but environmental issues and transportation need are inappropriately discussed for only a segment of the corridor.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations outline three general principles at 23 CFR 771.111(f) that are to be used to frame a highway project:

In order to ensure meaningful evaluation of alternatives and to avoid commitments to transportation improvements before they are fully evaluated, the action evaluated in each (environmental impact statement] EIS or finding of no significant impact (FONSI) shall

(1) Connect logical termini and be of sufficient length to address environmental matters on a broad scope;
(2) Have independent utility or independent significance, i.e;, be usable and be a reasonable expenditure even if no additional transportation improvements-in the area are made; and
(3) Not restrict consideration of alternatives for other reasonably foreseeable transportation improvements.

The aim of this paper is to discuss criteria that can be used to select logical termini (project limits) for development of a project. The primary discussion will be on the first of the three factors mentioned above. However, all three are interrelated and necessary to development of an integrated project. ...

II. A Definition of Logical Termini
Logical termini for project development are defined as (1) rational end points for a transportation improvement, and (2) rational end points for a review of the environmental impacts. The environmental impact review frequently covers a broader geographic area than the strict limits of the transportation improvements. In the past, the most common termini have been points of major traffic generation, especially intersecting roadways. This is due to the fact that in most cases traffic generators determine the size and type of facility being proposed. However, there are also cases where the project improvement is not primarily related to congestion due to traffic generators, and the choice of termini based on these generators may not be appropriate. The next section will show some examples where this is the case. .....
Choosing a corridor of sufficient length to look at all impacts need not preclude staged construction. Therefore, for a transportation corridor where the improvements are so related to one another that they should be considered one project, the termini should not be selected solely on the basis of what is programmed in a short range improvement program, but instead the several related construction projects should be evaluated as one. Construction can be programmed for shorter sections or finite construction elements as funding permits.

III. Case Law
The major court case for highway projects relative to project termini involved Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas (San Antonio Conservation Society Members v. Texas Highway Department and USDOT. 446 F.2d 1013 (5th Cir. 1971)). With this project, years of controversy had stalled the "North Expressway" in San Antonio, primarily because the highway would use as many as 250 acres of Brackenridge Park located in the middle section of this planned expressway. As a compromise, and to satisfy competing interests, the Secretary of Transportation had allowed the two outer sections of the road to be advertised for construction, while not approving the controversial center section. In overturning this decision, the court specifically addressed this compromise as inappropriate and as forcing eventual construction through the park in the middle segment. “Patently, the construction of these two‘end segments’ to the very border, if not into, the Parklands, will make destruction of parklands inevitable, or, at least, will severely limit the number of ‘feasible and prudent’ alternatives to avoiding the Park.”
This decision stated that project termini must be selected to ensure that environmental matters are treated on a broad scope and to prevent a highway improvement from being a “loaded gun,” forcing further improvements which may have negative consequences not addressed in environmental studies. Additional urgency was given by the court to not forcing an action which would use 4(f) land.

As mentioned above, the “logical terminus criterion” is unusually elusive in these types of situations. Consequently, this case is not typical and should be referred to with caution. Nevertheless, this case is important for the determination of logical termini on highway projects for two reasons 1) while giving greater value to the independent utility criterion, it acknowledged the validity of the three criteria for evaluating alternatives and establishing termini as outlined at 23 CFR 771.111(f), and 2) it affirmed that as long as a project will serve a significant function by itself (i.e., it has independent utility), there is no requirement to include separate but related projects in the same analysis. ....

V. Conclusions
The aim of this paper has not been to present all possible ways of determining logical project termini, but rather to present a thought process that can be used to make these determinations on a case by case basis. For the vast majority of highway projects, the choice of logical termini will be obvious and non-controversial. For those few major projects where other considerations are important, the termini chosen must be such that

environmental issues can be treated on a sufficiently broad scope to ensure that the project will function properly without requiring additional improvements elsewhere, and
the project will not restrict consideration of alternatives for other reasonably foreseeable transportation improvements.

By following this guidance, proposed highway projects will be more defensible against litigation claims of project segmentation, and decision makers and the public will have a clearer picture of the transportation requirements in the project area and a better understanding of the project purpose and need.