Denver’s Regional Transportation District was recently recognized by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) for the Southeast Rail Extension project’s environmental assessment. The document was announced as one of only two environmental documents selected nationwide for a 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Documentation Preparation.

“An environmental assessment is an important step in preparing for a project,” said Bill Van Meter, RTD assistant general manager of planning. “This document evaluates environmental resources such as threatened and endangered species, water, air quality and noise that might be impacted by a proposed project. This allows RTD to plan mitigating measures for any impacts on the environment.”

The Southeast Rail Extension, part of the FasTracks plan, will build an additional 2.3 miles of light rail on the existing Southeast Rail Line south of Lincoln Avenue. The line will start at the end of the existing Lincoln Station and continue on the west side of I-25, crossing over the interstate and continuing service on the east side of the highway to the south side of RidgeGate Parkway.

The FTA Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Document Preparation is a biennial award that seeks to promote efficient development of useful environmental documents. The award recognizes environmental documents that exemplify best practices for a well-managed environmental documentation process, comply with prevailing requirements and expectations, and achieve the objective of paperwork reduction.

“This is a high honor for RTD,” said Susan Wood, planning manager. “The FTA has only given this award 11 times, and RTD has received it twice.” RTD received the award for the first time in 2008 for the Gold Line environmental impact statement.

Wood accepted the award on behalf of RTD on Oct. 4 at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco.