Public/Private Development Unit
The mission of the MassDOT Public/Private Development Unit (PPDU) is to encourage economic development in the Commonwealth while preserving and enhancing the state transportation system. To that end, PPDU facilitates the environmental review and permitting of the transportation-related elements of private development projects in need of access to the state transportation system. Throughout the process, PPDU works with the MassDOT Highway Division, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), and the MassDOT Rail and Transit Division, to coordinate the environmental process with the development permit process in order to expedite the review of project proposals and issuance of associated permits.
I - Need for MassDOT and/or MEPA Review
MassDOT’s review is triggered whenever a permit, a license and/or an approval are required from MassDOT or the MBTA, and one or more transportation thresholds as defined by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) regulations are exceeded. Refer to the information below to learn more about whether your project requires MassDOT review.
Access to State Highway Regulations
MassDOT is authorized to issue permits to applicants seeking access to the state highway layout based on Commonwealth of Massachusetts Regulations 720 CMR 11.00: Approval of Access to State Highways. The following tools will assist you in making a determination on whether a Vehicular Access Permit is required for your project.
- Jurisdiction Map
- Use the map below to determine the jurisdiction of roads and if the project abuts a state highway. Please note that a Vehicular Access Permit may still be required when a property abuts and/or significantly impacts MassDOT-roadways and infrastructure but access is not directly sought from a MassDOT-roadway or facility.
- Request for Determination
- If you are unsure, please submit a Request for Determination form.
Prior to entering and/or performing any work on or over MBTA property, or within the MBTA’s Zone of Influence (ZOI), an MBTA license must be obtained. When there is any potential for a project to impact or interfere with the MBTA’s services, right-of-way or infrastructure, the only way the MBTA can control the important interest of safeguarding the MBTA’s transportation system, is by having the project’s owner/developer/contractor (ODC) enter into a License Agreement with the MBTA to ensure the safe operation of the rail system.
This License Agreement will facilitate a review of the proposed work, and will be approved with an order of conditions that may include MBTA design review and construction oversight, dependent upon the nature of the proposed work.
To determine whether your property is within the MBTA’s Zone of Influence please refer to the MBTA LandTracker.
Chapter 40 Section 54A
If a project site includes any lands formerly used as a railroad right-of-way or any property appurtenant to or formerly used by any railroad company in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, no permit to build a structure of any kind on land so purchased shall be issued by any city or town in the Commonwealth without first obtaining, after public hearing, the consent in writing to the issuance of such permit from the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Please visit the 40/54A Hearings website for more information.
MEPA Transportation Thresholds for Review
Development projects that require any transportation-related permits, licenses, or approvals, and exceed certain transportation thresholds are subject to Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review based on 301 CMR 11.00: MEPA Regulations.
- For a determination of whether your project meets those criteria, please see a list of all review thresholds in the link above.
- If you are unsure, please submit a request for an Advisory Opinion to MEPA with a copy to PPDU.
II - Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA)
Whenever a transportation impact review is triggered as a function of the MEPA process or through MassDOT requirements, the project proponent is required to submit a Transportation Impact Assessment (TIA) to provide planning and a preliminary-level of engineering analysis to ensure that the transportation impact review process reflects and advances the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ transportation policy goals. See the following resources to assist in the preparation of your TIA.
- TIA Guidelines
- All projects that require the preparation of a TIA should follow the guidelines set forth in the 2014 Transportation Impact Assessment Guidelines by MassDOT and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. During the review of a TIA, PPDU examines impacts on traffic operations, safety, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian access, and parking and ensures that project’s impacts to the different modes are adequately mitigated.
- Transportation Scoping Letter (TSL)
- MassDOT provides developers the opportunity to submit a Transportation Scoping Letter (TSL) for TIA scoping purposes. The TSL is intended to enable the proponent and MassDOT to concur on the basic analytical approach, technical assumptions, and key transportation issues to be addressed in the TIA. The TSL must be submitted by the proponent and approved by MassDOT prior to development of the TIA. The TIA Guidelines provide more detailed information on the preparation of a TSL.
- Project Development and Design Guidebook
- Released in January 2006, MassDOT’s Project Development and Design Guide serves as a national model for developing context-sensitive, community-friendly road and bridge projects. All projects which modify state roadway (including new access) must follow the standards set forth in this guidebook.
- Highway Safety Program
- All TIA’s must identify and, if feasible, mitigate unsafe conditions for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at nearby state-owned intersections. MassDOT’s Highway Safety Program includes resources to find crash data, identify high-crash locations, and conduct safety analyses to find potential improvements.
- Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide
- MassDOT is committed to a high-quality, Complete Streets approach for its projects. The Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide helps with the process of considering, evaluating and designing separated bike lanes as part of a Complete Streets approach for safe and comfortable accommodations.
- Transit Analysis
- The TIA should examine project transit trip generation, use, and impacts within their study area. The TIA should also include an analysis that quantifies the impacts of transit-based mitigation in situations where buses or trains are well-utilized and/or the development would generate larger numbers of transit trips. For data to help you prepare your transit analysis, please visit the following website:
- Transportation Demand Management
- Transportation demand management (TDM) measures, which aim to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips to a project, are evaluated as part of PPDU’s review.
- Access Management
- Access management applies roadway and land use techniques in order to preserve the safety, function, and capacity of transportation corridors. The objective is to ensure roadway safety and efficient operations while providing reasonable access to adjacent land uses. Learn more about access management from MassDOT’s Project Development and Design Guide.
- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also provides guidance on Access Management.
III - Section 61 Findings
For projects which require an Environmental Impact Report, MassDOT, issues Section 61 Findings that reflect all anticipated transportation impacts of a project and the commitments required of the project proponent to mitigate these impacts. Section 61 Findings also define the coordination between the proponent and other nearby development and infrastructure projects, discuss the phasing of the project build-out and how these might tie into mitigation, and define the TDM program and ongoing monitoring activities. Section 61 Findings are required for each project prior to the issuance of their permit or license.
- PPDU keeps records of its Section 61 Findings for each project it reviews.
IV - MassDOT Permit/MBTA License Applications
Upon successful completion of the environmental process and issuance of the MEPA Certificate and Section 61 Findings, the project proponent may apply to the appropriate MassDOT divisions to obtain a Vehicular Access Permit or to the MBTA to obtain their license for subsequent construction of on-site access and associated off-site mitigation improvements. For next steps, please follow these links:
V - TIA Monitoring Report (TIAMR)
A monitoring program is a standard requirement of the Section 61 Finding to measure the effectiveness of mitigation over time. Monitoring programs require developers to periodically collect traffic counts and other data on resident, employee, and/or visitor access to a site. The Transportation Impact Assessment Monitoring Report online tool is used to facilitate the submission of monitoring reports and collection of transportation data. Follow these instructions to access the TIAMR tool.