INSTEP - Innovative and Sustainable Transportation Evaluation Process

National Park Service - Denver Service Center Transportation Division
Matt Jagunic, BriAnna Weldon

INSTEP is a sustainable transportation evaluation system addressing the National Park Service's unique mission, regulatory framework, goals and environments.

Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) has been a world leader in protecting natural and cultural resources, fostering environmental stewardship and providing for visitor enjoyment of the unique NPS resources. Transportation and travel within our national parks is an inextricable element of visitor experience and enjoyment and resource protection. The NPS strives to achieve sustainable management of all facilities and operations including over 26,000 buildings and approximately 16,000 miles of roads, bridges, tunnels, and paved trails. As green infrastructure rating systems have developed and grown in use, so has the NPS interest in capturing existing sustainability practices and encouraging innovations in sustainability. A multi-disciplinary team within the NPS Denver Service Center, Transportation Division, researched and tested multiple green infrastructure rating systems for applicability to NPS transportation projects and systems, and found that none of them adequately address the agency's mission, unique regulatory framework, goals and environments. Therefore, the NPS developed INSTEP, a sustainable transportation evaluation process to address the specific needs of the NPS.

INSTEP has three modules: Transportation Planning; Design and Construction; and, Operations and Maintenance. It strives to guide and record how the NPS is addressing and balancing the three dimensions, or triple bottom line, of sustainability: environment, economy and social equity. It is closely tied to and consistent with other NPS sustainability and transportation initiatives such as: the National Long Range Transportation Plan, the Green Parks Plan, the Climate Action Plan, the Buildings Sustainability Checklist and Database, and the NPS and FHWA- Federal Lands Highway Interagency Agreement.

INSTEP's most important functions are to guide NPS transportation project planning, design and implementation into the agency's second century and to educate and share sustainable transportation practices across the NPS, with partners and other agencies. INSTEP includes a searchable database that will work in conjunction with the NPS Buildings Sustainability Checklist and Database. NPS project teams are able to search, learn about and employ sustainable ideas, and techniques developed and used by other projects. INSTEP helps measure a transportation project's sustainable progress with its identified purpose and sustainable goals rather than competing with many other projects. It will also challenge project teams to improve project sustainability through the life of the project or program, and track sustainable quantitative and qualitative outcomes for projects. INSTEP provides outreach, guidance, education, documentation, and sharing beyond the NPS, including with other federal land management agencies.

INSTEP was presented and well received at the January 2015 Transportation Research Board annual meeting poster session and the 2015 ICOET. Since the last presentation, INSTEP has been vetted, deployed, and active for delivery of the FY18 transportation program.

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