State Environmental Review Process (SERP)
What is the SERP?
All state-funded construction road and highway projects estimated to cost more than $500,000 are subject to the State Environmental Review Process (SERP).
The SERP is the process that allows state environmental agencies the opportunity to comment on Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) projects at the earliest possible stage and supply environmental resource information regarding them.
The information assists VDOT in determining if the proposed project has significant environmental impact.
The process is intended to allow the agencies' input to reach VDOT as early as possible so the project manager and designer have time to avoid or minimize any potential impact.
What is the law behind SERP?
The SERP was developed through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Natural Resources and Transportation secretaries. This MOA was prepared to satisfy the Code of Virginia (§10.1-1188b), which calls for the secretaries to jointly establish procedures to provide state environmental and natural resource agencies the opportunity to comment on state-funded highway projects.
What projects are submitted through the SERP?
Projects funded by VDOT are required to go through the SERP. VDOT funds include monies from the construction or maintenance replacement budgets, budget item improvements, and Industrial, Recreational or Airport Access funds.
How does the SERP work?
For projects administered by VDOT, the agency's project manager from the Location and Design, Bridge or Local Assistance divisions, or the residency, enters a project description into the Comprehensive Environmental Data and Reporting (CEDAR) System and notifies the district environmental manager.
Upon receipt, the VDOT district Environmental Section staff reviews the project using information in the CEDAR global information system and other Web-based databases. At the same time, this information is submitted to the Interagency Environmental Coordination Committee (IECC), which is made up of 10 state environmental and natural resources agencies.
Each agency studies the information and researches potential impacts to resources under their jurisdiction. They give this information to VDOT, which then compiles a summary report of the data into a Preliminary Environmental Inventory (PEI) form. The PEI is electronically submitted to the resource agencies for additional review and comment.
If the agencies have no additional comments, the PEI is sent to the project manager. It is used in development and design of the project in order to avoid or minimize potential environmental impacts early in the development phase.
When is the SERP started?
The SERP is started as soon as funding is authorized and before any substantial location or design work has begun. The purpose of starting the process so early is to allow the project to be designed around any potential environmental impacts. The SERP must be completed prior to the beginning of construction.
How long does the SERP take?
A typical project requires approximately two to three months to be cleared through the SERP. This period may be longer, especially if surveys are required for cultural resources or endangered species.
When is the SERP completed?
The SERP is administratively complete when all agencies reviewing the PEI concur that additional coordination is not necessary for a project. The SERP must at least be completed prior to the beginning of construction.
What happens if a resource is impacted?
If all the agencies agree that the project will have no major impacts on the environment, we close the SERP and the project can proceed through the development process. However, if one or more agencies express concerns over a particular part of the project, the Environmental Section works with the agency to reach an agreement.
To reach an agreement, the Environmental Section may request that the project manager make changes affecting design parameters or construction practices, such as alignment shifts to avoid historic properties or parks, use of historic stone facing and open parapets, or restrictions on staging and in-stream work.
What do you do with the results of the SERP?
Once the PEI has been distributed to the IECC agencies, the environmental staff will prepare a memorandum closing the SERP and outlining the outstanding issues on the project, which may include surveys, permits, or documents, that have not been completed.
The memorandum and PEI are sent to the project manager for consideration in the location and design process.
How can I get more information?
Contact Elizabeth G. Jordan in VDOT’s Environmental Division