American Society of Civil Engineers

Environmental Impact Assessment for Transportation Projects: Case Study Using Remote-Sensing Technology, Geographic Information Systems, and Spatial Modeling

by M. A. El-Gafy, Ph.D., P.E., (Assistant Professor, School of Planning, Design and Construction, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI. E-mail:, Y. A. Abdelrazig, Ph.D., (Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL.), and T. S. Abdelhamid, Ph.D., (corresponding author), (Associate Professor, School of Planning, Design and Construction, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI E-mail:

Journal of Urban Planning and Development, Vol. 137, No. 2, June 2011, pp. 153-158, (doi:

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Document type: Case Studies
Abstract: A major function of planners is to promote the best use of a community’s land and resources for different construction projects; especially critical are infrastructure projects on which economic development relies. Transportation projects typically involve both environmental and economic issues facing a community as it grows and changes. Considerations of sustainability, as well as the widespread use of collaborative planning, design, and construction, require tools that facilitate long-term impact analysis and easy communication among built-environment professionals. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is instrumental for studying transportation project impacts, but it is a time-consuming process because of the large number of dependent and independent variables involved. This paper presents a descriptive case study for the analysis phase of an EIA for transportation projects on the basis of the integration of remote-sensing technology, geographic information systems, and spatial modeling. Environmental vulnerability around the project areas is presented by exploiting the advantages of the map overlay method and the matrix method. A vulnerability grade map and road distribution map were produced, providing an overall vulnerability score for each of the three planning alternatives considered. A road alignment was indicated as the preferred corridor, which was further recommended for a project development and environmental (PD&E) study. The proposed framework provides for a comprehensive environmental assessment of transportation projects and improvement of the quality of the decision-making process in urban and interurban projects.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Environmental issues
Spatial data
Spatial analysis
Geographic information systems
Remote sensing

Author Keywords:
Environmental impact assessment
Geospatial information
Environmental assessment
Environmental vulnerability
Spatial modeling