Environmental Programs

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) works to balance environmental issues with transportation needs. Environmental issues are considered in planning, delivering, operating and maintaining the transportation infrastructure. 

We employ a diverse group of interdisciplinary environmental experts who function as a critical component of the VDOT team. VDOT’s environmental programs include (click on the links for more information):

Office of Transportation Sustainability

VDOT is working to create a more sustainable transportation system that balances social, economic, and environmental concerns.

VDOT’s Office of Transportation Sustainability furthers this effort by driving practical solutions to transportation-related greenhouse gases, increasing the resilience of transportation infrastructure and operations, and maximizing the beneficial use of transportation right of way.


As shifting environmental conditions exacerbate hazards such as recurrent flooding, extreme weather events and rising sea levels, Virginia’s transportation system must continue to ensure the safe movement of people and goods.

VDOT is actively working to address these challenges and improve the resilience of at-risk infrastructure. For VDOT, resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for and mitigate events that put the transportation network at risk of disruption and deterioration, while preserving and incorporating natural and built infrastructure that help mitigate these threats.

To support this effort, VDOT has developed a Resilience Plan to formalize a framework for incorporating resilience into transportation planning, project development, delivery, operations, maintenance and asset management. The link to the Resilience Plan can be found below. 

VDOT Resilience Plan

Air Quality

VDOT’s highway projects are a part of transportation program that meets strict federal air quality standards, helping Virginians to continue to breathe easier.  

Our air experts deliver project level air studies and play an important role in regional and statewide air quality planning. 

Project-level air studies being completed on behalf of VDOT must comply with all current federal and state air quality requirements.

Cultural Resources

Virginia has a rich history and prehistory. Historic properties, such as archaeological sites, buildings and other structures, old cemeteries, road stone markers and battlefields are part of our common heritage.  

VDOT considers these important resources in all phases of project development, construction, and maintenance. As the owner of several historic bridges, VDOT is a careful steward of historic properties.

Environmental Certification 

In October 2021, the Environmental Division launched the first in a series of environmental certification modules for consultants working on VDOT projects and/or locally administered projects. These modules are available on the VDOT University (VDOTU) website. The modules review policies, practices, and guidance for completing environmental tasks, and they highlight VDOT’s expectations of consultants in order to have an efficient, consistent and defensible statewide program.

Per IIM-ED-110,  the environmental certification requirement applies to consultant staff who are reviewing and/or responding to consultant environmental documents and deliverables for VDOT and/or locally administered projects. RFPs, or related solicitations, which include environmental services shall require that the proposed subject matter practitioners provide a copy of the certificate they received upon completing all of the applicable certification modules on VDOTU.

For any questions regarding the Environmental Certification program, contact environmental.certification@vdot.virginia.gov. 

Modules currently available in VDOTU are listed below:

  • NEPA (as of October 2021) 
  • Cultural Resources (as of June 2022)

Hazardous Materials

VDOT protects the public by carefully managing hazardous materials in all phases of project development, construction, and maintenance.    

We are committed to working with state and federal environmental agencies and other stakeholders to help ensure that appropriate precautions are employed for all hazardous materials issues.   

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Studies

VDOT produces comprehensive documents covering a wide range of environmental issues, including both the natural and cultural environment.  

These documents are developed in compliance with NEPA and include Environmental Impact Statements and other NEPA related documents.  

These documents help ensure that we consider the environmental impacts of our projects before making a decision to move forward with construction.

Through early 2023, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided VDOT information regarding FHWA’s new policy on relocations and the consideration of the appropriate level of NEPA documentation, specifically as it relates to Categorical Exclusions (CEs). This memorandum is to communicate the results of the coordination between VDOT and FHWA, and the agreed upon approach to FHWA's Policy.

Natural Resources

Virginia’s natural environment is a key consideration when planning and building roads.  

VDOT implements numerous engineering and science-based solutions to avoid and compensate for impacts to wetlands and streams. We support the continued survival of endangered species by creating habitat and reducing construction related impacts to flora and fauna.   

On March 23, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposal to reclassify the Northern Long-eared Bat (NLEB) from federally threatened to endangered (87 FR 16446-16452) which would remove the NLEB 4(d) rule. The Final Rule was published on November 30 2022, and became effective on April 1st, 2023. See the below link for additional guidance on the uplisting. 

     NLEB 4(d) rule guidance


Noise is an important consideration in the development of federal-aid projects.  

Accordingly, VDOT developed a noise policy that requires the evaluation of noise mitigation, where applicable, to potentially reduce highway traffic noise levels. 

To do so, VDOT performs noise studies identifying how a project may affect noise sensitive receptors adjacent to the project corridor and the effects of noise reducing measures such as a noise barrier.

Instructional and Informational Memoranda(IIM)

Environmental Instructional and Informational Memoranda (I&IMs) provide staff, contractors, and other third parties with the required methods, processes, specifications, and order of operations to achieve intended results. 

VDOT assumes no responsibility for any incorrect outcomes or damage resulting from the use of this information.  


Page last modified: July 17, 2023