Step 3: Establish Criteria

Step 3 establishes criteria, which provides the basis for making decisions consistent with desired outcomes and project goals. The criteria support the Core Values and previously developed agreements and commitments, as well as design standards and other state and federal requirements.

The Project Staff will review the Context Statement, Core Values, Issues by Core Value,  and CSS Evaluation Guidance for every project or study to identify criteria and guidance relevant to the decisions that will be made on the project. The Project Staff will work with the Project Leadership Team (PLT), county representatives, and the public to establish project-specific vision, goals, and criteria. This activity is initiated with Scoping on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects. On smaller, less complex projects, the development of a project vision and project-specific goals and criteria can be accomplished in focused working sessions with the PLT, Project Staff, county representatives, and the public.

The purpose of establishing criteria is to support a structured decision-making process and ensure that decisions made and alternatives selected support the desired outcomes and actions, as well as the Core Values. In order to establish a fair process that reflects the stated outcomes and project goals, it is important to determine the criteria prior to developing potential alternatives.

Step 3 tracks how concerns and issues are used in the formation of criteria, allowing stakeholders and affected parties to see how their interests will be considered and permitting them to monitor the outcome in a meaningful way.

It is important to represent the needs of all stakeholders in the criteria -- including local, state, and federal priorities and requirements, as well as previous comments and concerns identified through earlier efforts in the corridor. Criteria should reflect the range of stakeholder interests, including community, interest group, and local needs and priorities. It is critical that the full range of interests and requirements be incorporated into criteria to support an evaluation process that meets requirements and interests in a clear and transparent manner.

Applicable legal and policy requirements must also be incorporated into the criteria to ensure their inclusion in alternative evaluation and selection. Such requirements may include American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) design standards and NEPA criteria.

A good criterion is measurable and relevant to the project decision, and it distinguishes between alternatives or options.