Michigan DOT Podcast Talks Benefits of Trails

The latest “Talking Michigan Transportation” podcast – produced by the Michigan Department of Transportation – interviewed Julie Clark, chief executive officer for the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation or TART Trails advocacy group to discuss how trail networks can enhance quality of life for residents while also providing an economic boost.

[Above image via Michigan DOT]
The economic value of trail networks comes from the key role they play in outdoor recreation, Clark said. For example, in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released statistics estimating that outdoor recreation accounted for $862 billion in economic output or consumer spending), 1.9 percent or $454 billion of gross domestic product, and supported 4.5 million jobs. 

In Michigan, outdoor recreation in 2021 contributed $10.8 billion to the state economy, according to that agency’s numbers, as well as support for 109,000 jobs and $5 billion in wages.

“Our vision is ‘every house a trailhead,’ meaning we want people to be able to leave their home and access a trail,” Clark noted. “Getting out on the trails doesn’t mean there’s a trail up to your door, but the facilities – whether you’re rural or in a town – should be nearby and you should feel very comfortable and safe using them. That is where we come in, working with [local] road commissions and state DOTs.”

She also emphasized that trails help increase property values and help reinvigorate neighborhoods –key economic development benefits for communities.

“They also provide, as COVID [the COVID-19 pandemic] pointed out, some really important opportunities for physical and mental health, and that I think has become so important to folks all around our region and, I think, around the state,” Clark noted.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.

There has been an ongoing push over the last several years to increase trail networks across the country.

For example, in January 2023, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy or RTC recently launched a national effort aimed at creating a “new community” where public leaders, advocates, and transportation professionals can come together to advance the development of trails and other active-transportation networks across the country.

Dubbed the TrailNation Collaborative, this new “community effort” seeks to fill what RTC describes as an “unmet need” for peer learning and collective action in order to leverage funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA to create a connected systems of trails, sidewalks, and protected bike lanes in every community in America.

State departments of transportation around the country are also spearheading their own trail expansion efforts.

For example, the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Lamoille Valley Rail Trail project – the winner of the 2023 America’s Transportations Awards People’s Choice Award – is a 93-mile multi-modal recreational path in northern Vermont, connecting 18 town centers and linking to other trails in Vermont and Canada.

This project is open year-round for various activities, including walking, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, preserving Vermont’s natural landscape.

In November 2023, the Texas Transportation Commission approved over $345 million for new sidewalks, bikeways, and other types of active transportation infrastructure projects statewide.

The funding will go towards 83 projects designed to improve bicycle and pedestrian access while providing safety enhancements and mobility options to schools, jobs, public transit systems, and local destinations, the commission said.

The Texas Department of Transportation noted that some the projects approved by the commission include sidewalks connecting to schools and transit options, shared-use paths benefiting both pedestrians and cyclists, new pedestrian bridges, and 15 planning studies.

In July 2022, a team of Utah State University researchers recently explored how to use the state’s network of historic canal trails as an active transportation solution. That study is poised to help the Utah Department of Transportation and community leaders make decisions about building canal paths and trails.

The Utah DOT funded the university’s research project – entitled “Active Transportation Facilities in Canal Corridors” – that the American Society of Civil Engineers subsequently published in June 2022.

Environmental News Highlights – May 1, 2024

FEDERAL ACTION

How Abrupt U-Turns Are Defining U.S. Environmental Regulations -New York Times

President Advances Plan to Make Freight Shipping Carbon-Free -Transport Topics

What’s New in the 11th Edition of the MUTCD with Kathy Falk, Vice President, Kimley-Horn -ITE Talks Transportation (podcast)

BTS Updates National Transportation Statistics -Bureau of Transportation Statistics (media release)

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Omaha airport takes significant damage from EF-2 tornado -Fox Weather

Amtrak can take control of Washington Union Station, federal judge rules -WTTG-TV

How the Baltimore bridge collapse upended a D.C. coffee chain’s business -Washington Post

NJ Transit releases first sustainability plan -Mass Transit

Smart streetscape to pilot mobility program in Buffalo -Public Square

Administration’s Investing in America Agenda Supports Flood Reduction Infrastructure Project in Historic Savannah Community -FEMA (media release)

AIR QUALITY

Planning for climate change, Delaware State Senate passed new legislation -WRDE-TV

Vehicle platooning in TN designed to increase road safety, decrease pollution -WKRN-TV

Are the Great Lakes the key to solving America’s emissions conundrum? -National Geographic

FAA Finalizes Rule to Reduce Carbon Particle Emissions from Aircraft Engines -FAA (media release)

FHWA Announces Nearly $150 Million in Grants to Help Reduce Truck Air Pollution Near America’s Ports -FHWA (media release)


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE/EQUITY

Buttigieg and Black mayors preview transportation projects designed to heal historic inequities –CNN

MassDEP Investing in Air Quality Sensors in Environmental Justice Communities -iBerkshires.com

In a push for more housing density near transit lines, highway dollars have become a political football -Colorado Public Radio

CDTA to bring mobility hubs to Albany, Troy -WTEN-TV

Understanding Environmental Justice In Rural Communities -Forbes (opinion)


NATURAL RESOURCES

MnDOT seeks more volunteers to keep roads clean -KARE-TV

The Minnesota Mayor Making Space for Monarch Butterflies –CityLab


CULTURAL RESOURCES

Amtrak expansion grabs interest from tourism organizations in South Dakota -KSFY-TV

Can You Compost That? A Cheat Sheet on What Goes in the Bin -Bloomberg Green

Maryland DOT State Highway Administration Wins Preservation Award Railroad Report -Maryland Department of Planning (media release)


HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

Lessons on how (and how not) to build a bike-friendly city -Corporate Knights

Unsanctioned signs installed along San Francisco’s Wiggle bike route –SFGATE

Minnesota’s Metro Transit Steps Up Safety Efforts With Monitors Displaying Bus Behavior For All To See -Star Tribune

TRB RESOURCES/RESEARCH/ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Future of Ferry Electrification in Rural Areas -TRB (webinar)

Navigating public transport during a pandemic: Key lessons on travel behavior and social equity from two surveys in Tehran –ScienceDirect


FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All -The President (Executive Order)

Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program -FHWA (Notice)

California State Nonroad Engine Pollution Control Standards; In-Use Diesel-Fueled Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU) and TRU Generator Sets and In-Use Off-Road Diesel Fueled Fleets; Requests for Authorization; Opportunity for Public Hearing and Comment -EPA (Notice)

Notice of Availability of Programmatic Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Transit Projects -FTA (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the GreenThumb Gardens Water Supply Project, New York, NY for Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond Counties -Natural Resources Conservation Service (Notice)

Anchorage Regulations; Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, California -Coast Guard (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Adoption of a Department of the Air Force Categorical Exclusion Under the National Environmental Policy Act -NASA (Notice)

Kootenai National Forest; Montana; Kootenai National Forest Over-Snow Motorized Use Travel PlanForest Service (Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement)


Notice of Determinations on the Demand Response and Electric Vehicle Standards -Tennessee Valley Authority (Notice of determinations on the PURPA Standards set forth in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021)


Groundbreaking for Nevada DOT-Led Brightline Rail Project

Pete Buttigieg, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, headlined a recent groundbreaking event for the Brightline West High-Speed Rail Project; a 218-mile high-speed, all-electric, zero-emission rail line that will operate between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, California.

[Above photo by USDOT]

The Nevada Department of Transportation received $3 billion in funding from the USDOT’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program in December 2023 to help build the Brightline West high speed rail line, which the company expects will open in 2028.

That $3 billion grant to Nevada DOT brings the total federal support for the Brightline West high-speed rail line up to $6.5 billion in grants and financing.

“I want to thank Governor [Joe] Lombardo for his leadership and support demonstrating in a project this complex that it has support across state lines, across jurisdictional lines, and across party lines; that is what it takes to get big things done,” USDOT’s Buttigieg noted in his remarks at the groundbreaking event.

“We’re going to be working closely with the Nevada DOT [and] Brightline West to meet their ambitious 2028 target,” he said. “This train will move people at 186 miles an hour between Southern California and Las Vegas in just over two hours – which is about half the time that it can sometimes take to drive on that road. There will be a million fewer cars stuck in traffic. So even if you don’t use it, you’ll be benefiting from the people who do.”

Buttigieg added that, because Interstate 15 such an important freight route, the expected reduction in traffic congestion due to the Brightline West high-speed rail line should have a “material benefit” to America’s supply chains – all while reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles to the tune of 800 million fewer pounds annually.

Hawaii DOT Activates Autonomous Shuttle Pilot Program

The Hawaii Department of Transportation recently launched a new autonomous all-electric passenger shuttle pilot program that will augment the existing Wiki Wiki shuttle bus service at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

[Above photo by Hawaii DOT]

The 18-month pilot project will test out a new fleet of “Miki” autonomous shuttles – the Hawaiian word for “agile” – along with support services and software; all supplied by Beep, Inc.

Each Miki shuttle can hold 11 passengers, including the shuttle attendant, and can accommodate one wheelchair. The shuttles will operate at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour.

While the Miki shuttles will be driven autonomously, Hawaii DOT said an attendant will be on board at all times to serve as ambassador for the new shuttle pilot project and to educate riders on how Miki operates and the service offered at the airport.

Shuttle attendants are trained on the autonomous shuttle’s safety features and can take over manually at any time by utilizing a controller on board, the agency noted.

Ed Sniffen, Hawaii DOT director, added in a statement that this project seeks to evaluate ways to increase overall efficiency of intra-airport transportation service, with two Miki autonomous buses operating on a “robust service schedule” along the same route as the Wiki Wiki buses between the C and G gates and Terminals 1 and 2.

“We are proud to launch the Miki shuttle service which will provide additional convenience for our airport users,” Sniffen noted. “The autonomous electric vehicles add to our ongoing progress to transition our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and will help meet the state’s sustainability goals.”

This pilot project is made possible through the state’s infrastructure as a service contract with Sustainability Partners, which Hawaii DOT said enables it and other interested state and county agencies to procure electric vehicles and charging infrastructure on a per-mile cost basis.

This pilot program complements a similar effort Hawaii DOT spearheaded in June 2023 in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa; the launch of the school’s first autonomous electric passenger shuttle as part of its Rainbow Shuttle service to transport students and staff around campus.

Environmental News Highlights – April 24, 2024

FEDERAL ACTION

USDOT Issues $23M in Thriving Communities Funds -AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence

US Infrastructure Is Broken. Here’s an $830 Million Plan to Fix It –Wired



FAA Weather Stations In Rural Alaska Are Consistently Not Reporting Data, Legislature Wants Congress To Address Issue -KMXT Radio

EPA & the Army Corps of Engineers have less ability to protect wetlands than they’ve had in 40 years but Florida still isn’t satisfied -JD Supra (opinion)



EPA Issues Emergency Fuel Waiver for E-15 Sales -EPA (media release)

 

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

How Amazon Became the Largest Private EV Charging Operator in the US -Bloomberg Green

Google Maps Will Use AI To Help You Find Out-Of-The-Way EV Chargers -The Verge

Houston Metro finding shift to electric or hydrogen buses an uphill effort -Houston Chronicle

A new chapter for transport decarbonization awaits –GreenBiz


EPA New England issues three air permits for offshore wind farm projects -EPA (media release)

 

AIR QUALITY

EPA Reveals Slight Increase in Greenhouse Gas Emissions -Environmental Protection

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

Weather Sensors Will Aid Autonomous Trucks in Fort Worth -Transport Topics

Second ‘bathtub’ grant won’t fix Parkway East flooding before 2026 -Pittsburgh Union Progress

 

CULTURAL RESOURCES

WisDOT announces two new additions to Rustic Roads Program -Daily Jefferson County Union

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

New $4.5 million East Bay trail path will connect bicyclists, pedestrians to BART -East Bay Times

 

TRB RESOURCES/RESEARCH/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Subgrade Soil Susceptibility to Shrink/Swell and Frost Heave: Effects on Pavement Performance –NCHRP

Tactile Wayfinding in Transportation Settings for Travelers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired –TCRP

Aggregate Sustainability—Production -TRB (webinar)

Strategies to Respectfully Address Homelessness at Airports -ACRP (webinar)

 

FEDERAL REGISTER

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles—Phase 3 -EPA (Final rule)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Public Meeting -EPA (Notification for a public meeting)

Withdrawal of the Notice of Intent To Prepare a Joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Dredged Material Management Plan Feasibility Study, Los Angeles County, CAArmy Corps of Engineers (Notice of intent; withdrawal)

Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council -Forest Service (Notice of meeting)

 

USDOT Issues $23M in Thriving Communities Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded $23.6 million in Thriving Communities Program or TCP grants to three national “capacity builders” and six regional providers that will provide roughly 112 communities – including 12 tribal nations – with technical assistance so they can access federal infrastructure funding and resources.

[Above photo by the USDOT]

Managed by the Build America Bureau within USDOT, the program’s “technical assistance” includes a variety of tasks, from preparing application materials and predevelopment activities, to deploying innovative community engagement, workforce development, and clean technology strategies.

The agency said the overall TCP initiative – created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – provides two years of no-cost technical assistance to help advance projects that improve health outcomes, reduce housing and transportation cost burdens, improve housing conditions, preserve or expand jobs, and increase reliable mobility options for “disadvantaged communities,” especially small, rural, and tribal ones.

USDOT noted that, out of the 64 communities selected to receive $22 million in TCP grants in 2023, some 37 have now also won federal funding for their communities through various USDOT discretionary grant programs such as Safe Streets and Roads for All program, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE program, and the Rural and Tribal Assistance pilot program.  

“The Thriving Communities participants have proven that this technical assistance model can tremendously impact their success rate not only in competing for federal grants, but also in better utilizing innovative solutions to deliver their projects more efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Morteza Farajian, executive director of the Build America Bureau, in a statement.

The three national “capacity builders” receiving fiscal year 2023 TCP funds are:  

  • Rural Community Assistance Partnership Incorporated, in partnership with Community Engineering Corps, Communities Unlimited, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, Midwest Assistance Program, National Association of Development Organizations, RCAP Solutions, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation, received over $4.2 million to support 16 “main street” programs. USDOT said “main street” funding is focused on tribal, rural, and small-town communities and the interconnected transportation, community, and economic development issues they face.
  • Abt Associates Inc., in partnership with EPR, P.C., Equitable Cities, Morgan State University, Nelson\Nygaard, Safe Routes Partnership, and Smart Growth America, received over $4.9 million to support 20 “complete neighborhoods communities” projects. Those projects focus on urban and suburban communities located within Metropolitan Planning Organization planning areas working to better advance complete streets policies and coordinate transportation with land use, housing, and economic development.
  • The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials or COMTO, in partnership with AECOM, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Accelerator for America, Two Degrees, ReConnect Rondo, and MWDBE Training Academy, received over $4.2 million to support 16 “networked communities” projects. Those projects are focused on communities located near ports, airports, freight, and rail facilities to address mobility, access, housing, environmental justice, and economic issues.

USDOT also provided $1 million to $2 million in funding each to six projects benefiting 60 communities in total through a new TCP Regional Pilot Program; a program that allows participants to support TCP activities to communities within their jurisdictions at a state or regional scale. Two projects overseen by state departments of transportation received funds as part of this TCO pilot program, USDOT noted:

  • The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in partnership with the Alaska Municipal League, receiving $2 million to support 18 communities, four of which are tribal nations.

The New York State Department of Transportation, in partnership with the with New York State Department of State and ICF Incorporated, received over $1 million to support five communities: the Town and Village of Alfred, the Village of Dolgeville, the Village of Margaretville, the Town and Village of Massena, and Wyoming County. 

Michigan DOT Launches Household Travel Survey

The Michigan Department of Transportation has launched a statewide household travel survey, dubbed “MI Travel Counts,” to help the agency determine how travel behavior has changed over the past decade; helping the agency plan future changes and improvements to the state’s transportation system.

[Above photo by Michigan DOT]

Last conducted in 2015, the survey aims to help Michigan DOT planners account for the many changes in travel that have occurred, like the prevalence of remote work, the increase in online shopping, and greater use of ridesharing and delivery services. Data from the survey will also be used to plan out transportation infrastructure investments for the next 20 years, the agency added.

Michigan DOT noted in a statement that randomly selected households will receive an invitation to participate in the survey via U.S. mail and, upon accepting the invitation, household members will provide demographic data and then report their travel either via a smartphone application, the internet, or by telephone. The information provided to MI Travel Counts will be anonymized and aggregated to calculate statistics for study purposes, the agency added.

The agency added that the “MI Travel Counts” survey – conducted on its behalf by national research firm Resource Systems Group – will be conducted in three phases, with the first scheduled to run from April 15 through early June, with additional phases anticipated in spring 2025 and fall 2025.

Several other state departments of transportation are also in the midst of similar statewide travel survey efforts.

For example, in March, the Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with local and regional agencies across the state to conduct a “Colorado Travel Counts” household survey. The agency said insights gained from this survey – officially launched at end of February 2024 and slated wrap up in February 2025 – will help Colorado DOT and regional planning agencies prioritize local transportation projects, improve mobility, provide valuable transit services and reduce roadway congestion.

Households selected for participation will be offered up to $10 per person as compensation for the time and effort needed to join and complete the survey.

The survey results should help create a “snapshot” of how the transportation system is used statewide, Colorado DOT noted; enabling its planners to use that information as a foundation for future mobility planning and development efforts.

Environmental News Highlights – April 17, 2024

FEDERAL ACTION

FHWA Issues $830M in PROTECT Resiliency Grants -AASHTO Journal

Court upholds California’s authority to set nation-leading vehicle emission rules –AP

Senate rebukes Biden administration on effort to reduce vehicle pollution -Route Fifty

 

SOLAR ECLIPSE

See Maps of Where Eclipse Seekers Flocked and the Traffic That Followed -New York Times

These US Cities Benefited Most From Solar Eclipse Tourism –CityLab

Traffic gets eclipsed in Texas -Texas Department of Transportation (media release)

Thousands Travel to NH to View the Solar Eclipse -New Hampshire Department of Transportation (media release)

 

COVID-19

APTA: Transit-ridership levels continue post-pandemic recovery -Progressive Railroading

 

RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Colorado pumps $21 million into fast-charger expansion for electric vehicles -Powers Journal

This Florida highway will wirelessly charge electric cars on the go -Tampa Bay Times

Port of Albany awarded $9.9M in funding for rail and maritime infrastructure improvements from NYS DOT -American Journal of Transportation

This lamppost EV charger just went commercial in the US –Electrek

Biden urged to ban China-made electric vehicles -BBC News

 

AIR QUALITY

California’s Clean Air Act Exemption Targeted in Lawsuits Challenging Truck GHG Rules -HDT/Truckinginfo

 

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE/EQUITY

Civil engineering researcher looks to remedy inequities in traffic safety -University of Arizona

Extra Step Added For Transit-Oriented Housing -New Haven Independent

Biden’s environmental justice scorecard offers more questions than answers –Grist

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

Boy Scouts Join Tennessee DOT Litter Cleanup Campaign -AASHTO Journal

Resilience to Natural Hazards and Historic Buildings -National Park Service

Urban planning should consider building height, shape, and arrangement to best protect pedestrians during severe precipitation and wind -Physics of Fluids



WYDOT Widens Access to Road-Closure Data to Save Lives in Severe Weather -Wyoming DOT (media release)

 

CULTURAL RESOURCES

An Ode to the Northeast Corridor, the Rail Line That Keeps Amtrak Alive –CityLab

Jersey Shore hangout spot for 4×4 beach vehicles could disappear without more sand -NJ.com

UTA plans to expand, redesign transit by possible 2034 Olympics -KSTU-TV

 

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

WVDOT Helps Develop Unique ‘Rail Bike’ Offering -AASHTO Journal

Houston’s New Mayor Pumps the Brakes on Street Safety Projects –Governing

Metra sees surge in bikes on trains following change in policy –Trains

How climate change is beginning to be built into employee pay and benefits –CNBC

Minnesota touts e-bike rebates worth up to 75% off cost of new purchase -WCCO-TV

 

TRB RESOURCES/RESEARCH/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Transformational Technologies and Mobility Inclusion Playbook –NCHRP

Airport Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic -TRB (webinar)

 

FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

National Public Transportation Safety Plan -FTA (Notice of availability and response to comments)

Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans -FTA (Final rule)

Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity (ACTE); Notice of Public Meeting -Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (Notice of public meeting)

Pipeline Safety: Meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice; extension of comment period)

Renewal Package From the State of Arizona to the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program and Proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Federal Highway Administration’s Environmental Review Responsibilities to the State -FHWA (Notice, request for comments)

Renewal Package From the State of California to the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program and Proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Environmental Responsibilities to the State -FRA (Notice, request for comments)

Notice of Adoption of a Fish and Wildlife Service Categorical Exclusion Under the National Environmental Policy Act -EPA (Notice)

 

Oklahoma DOT Plans EV Charger Network Expansion

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is moving forward with the first phase of an effort to expand electric vehicle or EV infrastructure statewide.

 [Above photo by Oklahoma DOT]

The agency awarded more than $8 million in federal funds to Love’s Travel Stops, Francis Energy LLC, and Tesla Inc. to build 13 charging stations along Oklahoma interstates. Those three firms will also contribute a combined $7 million in private funding to construct those charging facilities. Through this public-private partnership, the private partners will design, build, operate, and maintain the charging stations and should have them open for business by 2025.

The agency said those stations will be within 50 miles of preexisting or planned sites in designated corridors, equipped with at least four charging ports capable of simultaneous 150 kilowatt (kW) or higher charging, accessible 24/7/365, and have broadband or cellular capability.

Once installed, these 13 stations will complete the EV charging corridors on I-35, I-40 and I-44 in Oklahoma, said Jared Schwennesen, multimodal division engineer for Oklahoma DOT.

“Range anxiety is a real concern for electric vehicle owners here in Oklahoma and nationwide,” he explained in a statement. “We believe this will be a major step toward cutting down on that anxiety and providing a reliable charging network across Oklahoma.”

The Oklahoma DOT noted that the federal money it has issued to build and support those EV charging stations comes from the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI formula program, established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA.

Other state departments of transportation across the country are engaged in similar efforts.

In March, the Virginia Department of Transportation allocated $11.3 million in federal funding to assist in the statewide construction of EV charging stations that would also help close existing alternative fuel corridor gaps along I-64, I-77, I-81, I-85, I-95, and I-295.

The Illinois Department of Transportation also recently released the first official notice of funding opportunity for round one of grants sponsored by NEVI program funding; grants that will provide up to $50 million for the construction of 46 charging stations across the state.

Other state DOT EV charging network initiatives include:

  • The California Department of Transportation – known as Caltrans – received some $63.7 million from the Federal Highway Administration to fix and install more than 1,000 chargers at 300 sites statewide.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to repair or replace dozens of existing EV charging sites using a $5 million federal award. The agency also oversaw the completion and opening of Pennsylvania’s first federally-funded EV charging station in late December 2023 and is now making $20 million in NEVI funding available to build more new EV charging facilities.
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation also opened its very first NEVI-funded EV charging locale for operation in December 2023.
  • The New York State Department of Transportation is getting $13 million from FHWA to enhance the reliability of EV charging ports across the state.
  •  The Arizona Department of Transportation began seeking bids from private entities in January to build or upgrade EV charging stations along several interstate highways.
  • The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet broke ground on the first NEVI-funded EV fast charging station in the southeastern United States in February. The agency is currently seeking proposals to install up to 16 additional stations along interstates and parkways statewide using NEVI funding – all part of Kentucky’s longer-term effort to add up to 40 new fast charging stations by 2025.

Boy Scouts Join Tennessee DOT Litter Cleanup Campaign

The Nobody Trashes Tennessee litter prevention campaign operated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation has expanded its youth group partnerships with the addition of all six Boy Scouts of America councils in Tennessee to the program – allowing scouts the opportunity to earn a Nobody Trashes Tennessee or NTT patch.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The Boy Scouts join Tennessee’s three Girl Scout councils, as well as additional youth groups, in offering the NTT patch, the agency noted.

“Boy Scouts are known for their commitment to community and partnering with Nobody Trashes Tennessee underscores their dedication to instilling values of environmental stewardship, civic responsibility, and leadership in young people,” said Brittany Morris of Tennessee DOT’s Beautification Office in a statement. “We are thrilled to have participation from all six councils representing the state.”

Boy Scouts of all ages have multiple ways to earn the patch by completing Nobody Trashes Tennessee educational worksheets and participating in litter cleanups in their community, coordinating their own cleanup in their neighborhood or school grounds, or through existing beautification and service projects.

For Boy Scouts ages 12 and older, the agency said its Adopt-A-Highway program is an opportunity to earn both a patch and a roadway recognition panel for committing to quarterly pickups. Patches are provided by Nobody Trashes Tennessee at no cost to the councils or individual scouts.

“Community service is woven into the fabric of our program,” added Casey Norwood, CEO and Scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America’s Chickasaw Council. “I believe the goals of the Nobody Trashes Tennessee campaign align well with our Scouts giving back to the communities in which we all love and live.”

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in a variety of litter cleanup and removal efforts. 

For example, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is gearing up for its annual “Spring Litter Sweep” event, to be held April 13-27 statewide.

The Spring Litter Sweep – one of NCDOT’s many roadside litter removal initiatives – engages local communities to tackle the issue of roadside litter. During the two-week period, residents are encouraged to participate in local efforts to help clean up North Carolina’s roadsides.

In addition to volunteers, NCDOT maintenance crews devote one week of their time picking up litter and collecting trash bags that are filled by volunteers, the agency noted.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation launched a new anti-litter webpage as part of a renewed statewide anti-littering campaign that kicked off in August 2023 – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

On another front, to make roadway debris removal operations faster and safer, the South Carolina Department of Transportation started installing “lane blades” on select highway incident response vehicles in 2023.

And in April 2023, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

That “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.