Environmental News Highlights – January 25, 2023

FEDERAL ACTION

States Losing Gas Tax Revenue with EV Adoption – U.S. News & World Report

New Federal Cash Headed to Trail Projects Nationwide – Route Fifty

Report: How state and local leaders can harness new infrastructure funding to build a stronger, more inclusive workforce – Brookings

COVID-19

Justice Department asks court to reverse order banning airplane mask mandate to combat COVID – Reuters

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

FHWA Memo Useful Discussion Tool, Expert Says – Transport Topics

Michigan transportation officials want electric vehicles to pay for roads – WJRT-TV

Wyoming Legislators Want to Ban EVs by 2035 – Autoweek

Mississippi River dredging makes supply transport possible amid ongoing drought – Fox Business

Should Cities Use Cooler Pavements? – Transfers Magazine

AIR QUALITY

Faith groups, environmental justice advocates urge EPA to go further in new soot pollution rules – EarthBeat

A Roadmap for Decarbonizing California In-State Aviation Emissions – International Council on Clean Transportation

A Nudge Toward Greener Flying – Transfers Magazine

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Six Environmental Justice Policy Fights to Watch in 2023 – Inside Climate News

Transit Equity Day Family Fair – Santa Cruz Patch

Where You Go When Your Car is Home – Transfers Magazine

NATURAL RESOURCES

Virginia residents reject massive solar farm plan for third time over environmental concerns – Fox News

Reimagining Colorado’s Highways – Pagosa Daily Post

Clean Water Act fights pollution – Troy (AL) Messenger

How New York City’s Trees and Shrubs Help Clear Its Air – New York Times

Safety, wildlife crossings emerge in Highway 93 study between Lolo and Florence, Montana – KPAX-TV

CULTURAL RESOURCES

Pennsylvania and New Mexico universities score National Park Service grant to preserve Route 66 – The Architect’s Magazine

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

Salt Lake City community group demands more measures to protect pedestrians – KSL-TV

A new lane in Chicago politics? Movement for more bike infrastructure grows – Chicago Tribune

Michigan’s chief mobility officer to step down – for a year of travel – MIBiz

Maine wants to make roads safer for bikes and pedestrians – Mainebiz

Macon’s roads are becoming deadlier for pedestrians, but few hit-and-runs are solved – Georgia Public Broadcasting

What Vision Zero has done for North Dakota in 5 years – KXMA-TV

DC explores idea to photograph and fine excessively noisy vehicles – WTOP Radio

FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Rural Business Development Grant Program To Provide Technical Assistance for Rural Transportation Systems for Fiscal Year 2023 – Rural Business Cooperative Service (Notice)

Water Resources Development Act of 2022 Comment Period and Stakeholder Sessions – Army Corps of Engineers (Request for comments; announcement of stakeholder sessions)

National Wetland Plant List – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)

Revised Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ – EPA (Final rule)

Finding of Failure To Submit State Implementation Plan Revisions Required Under Clean Air Act Section 185; California; Sacramento Metro Area – EPA (Final action)

Air Plan Approval; California; San Diego County Air Pollution Control DistrictEPA (Final rule)

Clean Air Act Advisory Committee: Request for Nominations – EPA (Notice)

Water Resources Policies and Authorities: Navigation Policy: Cost Apportionment of Bridge Alterations – Army Corps of Engineers (Final rule)

Notice of Meeting of the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety – FTA (Notice of public meeting)

Approval of Teterboro Airport Noise Compatibility Program – FAA (Notice)

Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (Notice)

Evaluation of New York State Coastal Management Program; Notice of Public Meeting; Request for Comments – Office for Coastal Management (Notice)

WSDOT Coordinates with City to Improve Green Space

The Washington State Department of Transportation, in coordination with the city of Des Moines, will provide a “much-needed makeover” to a popular 14-acre green space along Barnes Creek – an area used by local residents for a variety of outdoor activities.

[Above photo by WSDOT]

The agency described this particular green space in a blog post as a “well-loved unofficial neighborhood trail” where people are often seen walking their dogs, running, or enjoying nature with their families. This natural corridor includes a series of wetlands along Barnes Creek that have been degraded over time by invasive plants. To better protect native plant species and wildlife in the area, invasive species will be removed and wetlands will be enhanced, the agency said.

This project also supports the city’s future plans for trail improvements through this corridor and should also help reduce impacts on wetlands and vegetated areas surrounding streams from the New Expressway Project. That endeavor represents Stage 2 of the State Route 509 Completion Project – an effort to connect State Route 509 where it currently ends at the southwest corner of Sea-Tac Airport to I-5.

WSDOT noted an updated plan for this green space focuses on wetland preservation and enhancement, with the goal to protect what native plants and soil are already there, planting new native plants, and preventing disturbance of the wetland.

Wetland preservation and enhancement at Barnes Creek will revitalize the wetland habitat for wildlife and native plants like Oregon Ash trees and slough sedge plants. To preserve the wetland area, the Barnes Creek natural corridor includes four types of restoration ranging from simple invasive species removal to habitat enhancement and planting new native species.

The stage of the SR 509 Completion Project which includes the Barnes Creek restoration work is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in 2024. At that point, the contractor will develop a detailed timeline for construction, and – once construction is done – the agency will turn the revitalized green space over to the city.

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in similar efforts to enhance green space for a variety of communities – efforts that include everything from beautification projects to litter removal.

For example, in February 2022, the California Department of Transportation recently awarded $312 million for 126 beautification projects along the state’s highway system – part of the landmark $1.1 billion Clean California initiative.

Developed in close collaboration with tribal and local governments, non-profits, and businesses, those 126 beautification projects include art installations, green space (such as parks or community gardens) and proposals that “improve safety and promote community connections.”

Designed to foster cultural connections and civic pride, Caltrans noted that those projects should generate 3,600 jobs as part of the governor’s multi-year cleanup initiative to remove trash and beautify community gateways and public areas along highways, streets, and roads. The agency added that roughly 98 percent of those beautification projects would benefit historically underserved or excluded communities.

Meanwhile, in August 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”

The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in May.

Concurrently, in July 2022, Ohio launched a new litter control program launched, one administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation, that seeks to broaden engagement by the business community in its trash removal efforts.

That new Ohio program allows businesses and groups to fund litter removal services along one-mile, one-direction segments of state highways. In exchange for their sponsorship, Ohio DOT displays the name of the business or group on a sign within their sponsored segment.

DriveOhio Putting Automated Vehicles on Rural Roads

Automated vehicles are slated to begin operating on rural roadways in central and southeast Ohio as part of the Rural Automated Driving Systems or RADS project spearheaded by DriveOhio, a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by DriveOhio]

Funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, this project aims to demonstrate how connected and automated semi-trucks and passenger vehicles could improve safety for drivers, passengers, and other travelers in rural settings. The project, which focuses on 32 counties in Ohio’s rural Appalachian region, is the most comprehensive testing effort yet to be conducted on rural roads in the United States.

It is focused on gathering data on how automated vehicles operate in rural areas when navigating around curves, over hills, and in and out of shaded areas, according to DriveOhio Executive Director Preeti Choudhary.

“Automated driving systems are expected to transform roadway safety in the future, and the data collected with this project will be used to refine the technology to maximize its potential,” she explained in a statement. “This critical work will provide valuable information to help advance the safe integration of automated vehicle technologies in Ohio and across the nation.”

“The rural Appalachian area surrounding Ohio University would greatly benefit from using autonomous vehicles to deliver goods and transport people, but the road conditions are very different than urban and suburban regions,” said Jay Wilhelm, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the school, which is assisting with the rural road tests.

 “This project gives us an incredible opportunity to test automated vehicles in rural areas and gather data to demonstrate the unique challenges and work towards solutions,” he said. “Our goal is to bridge the technology gap in rural Appalachian communities so automated vehicles can improve quality of life throughout the region.”

[Editor’s note: In October 2021, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials published a policy paper outlining the 10 key policy principles needed for connected and automated vehicles or CAVs – a paper intended to be a “living document,” reviewed and updated every year to reflect changes in technology and policy. To access that paper, click here.]

DriveOhio noted that the vehicles being used in its rural roadway project have already undergone testing at the 4,500-acre proving grounds operated by the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio –providing closed roadway testing over a full range of navigational situations that are encountered in everyday driving before the driving automation system equipped vehicles are taken onto public roadways and highways. 

In addition to rigorous testing at the TRC, the deployment relies on high-definition mapping of specific routes that is then verified by professional drivers before engaging the automated technology. These maps provide the advanced driving system precise information about the surrounding environment including explicit roadway characteristics such as lane widths and the location of signals, crosswalks, and nearby buildings.

The first part of this rural road test involves three passenger vehicles equipped with AutomouStuff technology traveling on divided highways and rural two-lane roads in Athens and Vinton counties. They will be tested in different operational and environmental conditions, including in periods of limited visibility and in work zones. When the automated driving system is engaged, the technology will control steering, acceleration, and braking. Throughout the year-long deployment, a professional driver will always be in the driver’s seat with their hands on the wheel, ready to take over if needed.

“Many vehicles on the road today already have some degree of automated driving system technologies like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, or emergency braking,” DriveOhio’s Choudhary noted. “Those systems are meant to enhance safety, but they certainly don’t replace the human driver.”

The second part of the test features a pair of 53-foot platoon-equipped tractor-trailers connected by technology that enables them to travel closely together at highway speeds. When the trucks are connected, the lead vehicle controls the speed, and the following vehicle will precisely match braking and acceleration to respond to the lead vehicle’s movement.

The trucks used in this project are equipped with radar to detect other vehicles. This technology allows the trucks to monitor and react to the environment around them in certain ways, such as following the lead vehicle and responding to slower-moving traffic; however, human engagement in the driving task is critical. Like the first deployment, a professional driver will always be in the driver’s seat with their hands on the wheel, DriveOhio said. 

The trucks will first be deployed on the 35-mile U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, specifically designed for testing smart and connected vehicles. Later in 2023, a private fleet will begin using the trucks in their day-to-day business operations.

In addition to benefits like increased efficiency and reduced fuel consumption for fleets, the development of this technology ultimately aims to reduce human error, making Ohio’s roads safer, Choudhary stressed.

Other state departments of transportation are engaged in similar automated vehicle testing.

For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is participating in autonomous transit vehicle testing in Philadelphia, along with researchers from Drexel University and consulting firm AECOM. The testing involves a mid-size electric autonomous shuttle bus shuttling passengers from the Philadelphia Navy Yard to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s NRG Station through the spring of 2023.

Meanwhile, in August 2022, the Minnesota Department of Transportation helped launch a free, low-speed, driverless, all-electric, multi-passenger shuttle service called “Bear Tracks” for the city of White Bear Lake.

In March 2022, the North Dakota Department of Transportation issued funds to support a range of autonomous systems research aimed at helping the agency develop and maintain the state’s transportation system.

Additionally, the Virginia Department of Transportation helped vehicle maker Audi of America test a cellular vehicle-to-everything or C-V2X system over a two-year period that incorporated autonomous operations as well as other safety innovations.

Environmental News Highlights – January 18, 2023

FEDERAL ACTION

State DOTs Discuss ‘National Vision’ for Transportation – AASHTO Journal

Federal climate forecasts could help prepare for extreme rain. But it’s years away – NPR’s Morning Edition

Biden-Harris Administration Releases First-Ever Blueprint to Decarbonize America’s Transportation Sector – USDOT (media release)

FTA Announces Approximately $20 Million Funding Opportunity to Help Communities Prosper Through Access to Transit – FTA (media release)

COVID-19

Federal COVID Aid to be Allowed for Disaster Infrastructure Use – AP

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

I-24 Motion Project with Lee Smith and Dr. Dan Work – AASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

Michigan chief mobility officer: ‘States need to write the playbook’ on EV charging – Smart Cities Dive

Lawmakers look to shape future of electric vehicle charging in North Dakota – Forum News Service

E-Bikes and the Bike Infrastructure of the Future – Planetizen

AIR QUALITY

Virginia Governor Wants To Cut Ties With California’s Electric Vehicle Plan – WJLA-TV

NYU researchers confirm ‘river-tunnel effect’ where air quality degrades in subway stations near river crossings – Mass Transit

Children living near airports may be exposed to high levels of lead: study – The Hill

U.S. Carbon Emissions Grew in 2022 – New York Times

Jersey City Joins Global Pledge to Reduce Emissions – City of Jersey City (media release)

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Urban flooding research focused on climate equity in southeast Michigan – MLive

Taking Aim at Climate Injustice: US Focuses on Environmental Racism in 2023 – CNET

Achieving Equitable Mobility – Mass Transit (commentary)

NATURAL RESOURCES

Montana DOT Proposes Fences, Gates, Warning Signs To Curb Wildlife Deaths Caused By Vehicle Crashes – Nature World News

MoDOT volunteer shortage leads to trash build-up on I-70 – KTVI-TV

Your Questions Answered: Managing invasive plants in Florida’s natural areas – Southwest Florida Water Management District

A new bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers wants to highlight the state’s fragile water infrastructure – The Texas Tribune

California’s dilemma: How do you harness an epic amount of rain in a water-scarce state? Let it flood, scientists say – CNN

CULTURAL RESOURCES

SEPTA working to bring historic trolley rides back to Philly – KYW-TV

Bringing a Guitar to a Highway Fight – CityLab

PSU artists and transportation researchers team up on new comic book – BikePortland

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

TxDOT investing $250 million in bicycle and pedestrian programs – KETK-TV

Electric scooters and bikes could soon return to downtown St. Louis – KSDK-TV

Newtown Rail Trail Chugs Ahead With $2.5M In Grants For Bucks County – Newtown Patch

Feasibility study underway for Washington-Greenville greenway in North Carolina – WITN-TV

TRB RESOURCES/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Assisted Resettlement and Community Viability on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast: Proceedings of a Workshop – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Smart Mobility Connection Webinar: Uber & Lyft in U.S. Cities: Findings and Recommendations – Mobility21, the National University Transportation Center for Improving Mobility (link to registration)

FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

Notice of Availability of Final Initial Updated Policy Guidance for the Capital Investment Grants Program – FTA (Notice)

Guidance on Development and Implementation of Railroad Capital ProjectsFRA (Notice)

Partial Approval, Conditional Approval, and Partial Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Nevada; Infrastructure Requirements for Ozone EPA (Proposed rule)

Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; California; Coachella Valley Ozone Nonattainment Area; Reclassification to Extreme – EPA (Proposed rule)

Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plan; Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut – EPA (Proposed rule)

Commercial Diving Operations – Coast Guard (Notice of proposed rulemaking; withdrawal)

Port Access Route Study: Approaches to Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts – Coast Guard (Notice of availability of draft report; extension of comment period)

Request for Nominations for Members To Serve on the National Volcano Early Warning System Advisory Committee – Geological Survey (Request for Nominations)

State DOTs Participate in Resiliency Roundtable

Five state transportation agency executives shared their thoughts on how to make the nation’s mobility networks more resilient to a variety of challenges during a roundtable discussion at the 2023 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting.

[Above photo by AASHTO]

Roger Millar – secretary of the Washington Department of Transportation – moderated the roundtable. He has also made improving resiliency a key emphasis area for his one-year term as the 2022-2023 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

That session – entitled “Developing a Resilient Transportation System for a Rapidly Changing World” – featured four other state agency executives: Toks Omishakin, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency or CalSTA; Patrick McKenna, director of Missouri Department of Transportation; Marc Williams, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation; and New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

“Resilience is a broad part of what we do in my world,” Millar said. “Many think of resilience in the context of climate change and natural disaster response, but to me, it is also about the need to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions such as shifting demographics, an aging population that will drive fewer cars, and economic changes such as moving from extraction industries like forestry and mining to technology and software companies.”

He said resilience also encompasses the need for transportation systems to become “smarter” as well. “Now we are moving to be stewards of our multimodal transportation system rather than builders,” Millar added. “There is no way that we can grow our highway system to keep up with increasing congestion and [travel and freight] demand – there is no way we can build our way out of this. So we need to think about our transportation infrastructure in smarter ways – ways to get more out of what we have. When we need to add capacity, we need to be strategic about it and multimodal about it.”

Yet when it comes to “smart,” that can mean many things, noted Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

“Being ‘smart,’ for example, is using glass-infused foam concrete for key bridge deck replacements,” she said. “That helps improve bridge decks while diverting glass from our landfills. It’s an example of doing all we can to use natural and recycled materials in our work to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Gutierrez-Scaccetti also emphasized that state DOTs today are taking a much more multimodal view of the transportation world versus the past – developing a broader range of transportation options for people and goods; options that give the overall system more resiliency.

“Transportation is a means to an end, so when we build today, we need to be more holistic about the process,” she explained. “When we build light rail, we look at it as a way to improve access while relieving congestion on our roads. We have to think differently to be successful.”

“Resilience is a huge topic state DOTs deal with every day,” echoed Williams. “If our system is unable to function during severe weather and other catastrophic events, then we’ve failed. Energy, emergency services, and food products desperately need an efficient and reliable transportation system, especially as we deal with more extremes in weather.”

From that perspective, planning for disaster is becoming an even more critical discipline for state DOTs. “One of the things we talk about is that the time to figure out what to do in a disaster is not when a crisis happens,” he said. “We must plan ahead in terms of coordination with other state agencies and local governments – and we must do it every year, as we always have new people coming into our organizations.”

That’s why McKenna emphasized that finding the next generation of transportation workers, while improving support for current employees, is absolutely critical from a resiliency perspective.

“It is very important to develop the next generation of transportation workers, whether they go into the public or private sector,” he stressed. “This is the generational challenge. It is so easy to look [at] how to fund capital improvements, but it can oftentimes be very difficult to find the right support for the people doing that work. If we do not support them, we will not have the resiliency we need.”

McKenna added that the total state DOT workforce nationwide consists of only about 200,000 employees who help run the vast multimodal expanse of the U.S. transportation system. “We have to be able to make an investment in the people that do this critical work,” he pointed out. “We must never forget they are the ones that are going to drive us forward.”

State transportation agencies must also never forget that safety must remain their number one priority as they work to make mobility systems more resilient, emphasized Omishakin.

“Everyone on this panel is very concerned about safety; just two states up here [California and Texas] represent 20 percent of all roadway fatalities in America,” he said. “In California, we are up to 12 people a day killed on the transportation system, and statewide 30 percent of those fatalities are vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.”

That’s why Omishakin stressed that safety must become more than “talking points” in the transportation community – they must become “living points.” “Every single thing we do we must do through the lens of safety,” he said. “We all need to take responsibility and design roads that are safe for people inside and outside of vehicles.”

Illinois DOT to Help Improve Chicago Street Safety

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Department of Transportation recently signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will help “streamline and accelerate” the deployment of safety measures on local roads and state routes within Chicago to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians.

[Above photo by the City of Chicago]

“[This] MOU builds on our partnership and outlines concrete steps that we are taking to address safety, while further enhancing our ongoing collaboration and joint commitment to making roads safer for all users,” said Illinois DOT Secretary Omer Osman in a statement.

“Together, we will continue to work towards our joint goal of zero fatalities and to make Chicago and Illinois roads as safe and accessible as possible,” he said.

“This MOU is an important step forward in creating safer streets for our most vulnerable road users, such as children, people with disabilities, older adults, and people walking, biking, and rolling,” added Chicago DOT Commissioner Gia Biagi.

[Editor’s note: In December 2021 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released the second edition of its “Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities,” which provides guidance on the planning, design, and operation of pedestrian facilities along streets and highways.]

The MOU applies to the approximately 400 miles of road that are under state jurisdiction in Chicago, excluding expressways; roads that include some of the most heavily traveled streets in the City. Illinois DOT noted that MOU goes into effect immediately and establishes:  

  • A standardized list of traffic safety infrastructure designs routinely submitted by CDOT that will not be subject to comprehensive IDOT review prior to installation. This will allow the city to design and self-certify curb cuts and other sidewalk improvements to make streets more walkable and accommodating for non-vehicular traffic, establishes 10 foot-wide vehicular lanes as the minimum lane width. 
  • Clarifies “Design Vehicle” standards to emphasize pedestrian safety at intersections. A design vehicle is the largest vehicle that is likely to use the facility with considerable frequency and its selection can significantly impact a road’s design and geometry. By agreeing to a more appropriate design vehicle for urban streets, certain state routes will be able to add safety features, such as curb extensions and bump crossing distances for pedestrians.
  • Creates an Illinois DOT-Chicago DOT working group to help formulate future agreements and improve upon existing interagency collaboration.

That effort also comes as the U.S. continues to experience year-over-year increases in pedestrian fatalities. For example, a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association in April 2022 projected that U.S. motorists struck and killed 3,441 pedestrians in the first six months of 2021, an increase of 17 percent or an additional 507 fatalities compared to the first six months of 2020.

This “troubling projection,” GHSA said, continued what the group called a “decade-long trend” of rising pedestrian deaths on U.S. roadways and comes as speeding, impaired and distracted driving, and other dangerous driver behaviors remain at unacceptably high levels.

Illinois DOT’s efforts to improve street safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in Chicago also mirror similar efforts being undertaken by state departments of transportation across the country.

For example, in September 2022, a team of researchers from the University of Florida Transportation Institute or UFTI began working with the Florida Department of Transportation and others to study a suite of emerging technologies that provide more “timely warnings” regarding potential collisions between motorists and pedestrians – with the goal of reducing injuries and fatalities.

Concurrently, in October 2022, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet issued a new version of its “Complete Streets” roads and highways manual; a revision that represents the first update in more than 20 years to the state’s pedestrian and bicycle travel policy.

“Today, our transportation planners and designers approach their tasks holistically, taking the needs of all users into account and building accordingly,” noted Jim Gray, KYTC’s secretary, at the time. “There’s no one-size fits all recommendation as roadway features must be tailored to fit the community context.”

Also in October 2022, University of Connecticut Professor John Ivan received a $200,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation to investigate the safety of a proposal to improve the “uniformity” of pedestrian crossing signals statewide.

Environmental News Highlights – January 11, 2023

FEDERAL ACTION

U.S. DOT RD&T Strategic Plan (FY 2022-2026) – Building a Better Transportation Future for All – USDOT

Inflation could sap infrastructure act’s buying power this year – Construction Dive

A new EPA proposal is reigniting a debate about what counts as ‘renewable’ – Grist

2023 Transportation Trends That Could Impact The Future Of Transportation – Forbes (contributed content)

EPA Proposes to Strengthen Air Quality Standards to Protect the Public from Harmful Effects of Soot – EPA (media release)

President Biden, Vice President Harris, Senior Administration Officials Kick Off 2023 Implementing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – White House (media release)

COVID-19

As pandemic wanes, subway cars remain half-empty – The Hill

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

NYC launches $2 million study to ‘reimagine’ the Cross-Bronx Expressway – Gothamist

The Great Lakes Authority chipping away at the rust – Seatrade Maritime News

Updating local regulations may ease EV charging rollout – Smart Cities Dive

Challenges loom for gondola to Dodger Stadium planned for the 2028 Olympics – Los Angeles Times

AIR QUALITY

Massachusetts Governor issues her 1st executive order, creating climate chief – MassLive

DOE Boosts Hydrogen Efforts With $750 Million in FundingTransport Topics

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Tampa Mapping Effort Expands City Access for Visually Impaired – Government Technology

Funding for Central Mass. transit focuses on senior/disabled ridership – Telegram & Gazette

More than 100 businesses, residences at risk of displacement under TxDOT I-35 proposal – KXAN-TV

New SEPTA chief equity and inclusion officer wants to help the homeless – PhillyVoice

Governor Unveils Transportation Plan for Rural and Urban Tennessee – Tennessee Governor’s Office (media release)

NATURAL RESOURCES

Rollback of Trump-era water rules unlikely to alter Michigan regulations – mlive.com

CULTURAL RESOURCES

How Dual-Language Highway Signs In Wisconsin Will Revive Native Languages ‘In Crisis Mode’ – Wisconsin Public Radio

Vermont towns prepare for tourists as crews work to finish final stretch of Lamoille Valley Rail Trail – WCAX-TV

Expensive, Treacherous, Beautiful: The Battle Over Dirt Roads – New York Times

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

New York Governor Signs ‘Complete Streets’ Package – AASHTO Journal

Oklahoma DOT announces development of first Active Transportation PlanKXII-TV

Oregon DOT unveils new Innovative Mobility Program – KLCC Radio

New Massachusetts law adds protections for pedestrians and bicyclists – WBUR Radio

Stamford, Connecticut Moves Ahead With ‘Tactical Urbanism’ Solutions for Pedestrian Deaths – Connecticut Examiner

Atlanta eyes subsidizing e-bikes as popularity surges – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New pedestrian and bike paths set to revitalize Downtown Rockford, Illinois – WREX-TV

FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change Council on Environmental Quality (Notice of interim guidance; request for comments)

Fiscal Year 2023 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Areas of Persistent Poverty Program – FTA (Notice of Funding Opportunity)

Port Access Route Study: Approaches to Maine, New Hampshire, and MassachusettsCoast Guard (Notice of availability of draft report; request for comments)

National Boating Safety Advisory Committee; January 2023 Virtual Meeting – Coast Guard (Notice)

Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee Meeting; February 2023 Meeting – Coast Guard (Notice)

Finding of Failure To Attain and Reclassification of Las Vegas Area as Moderate for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard – EPA (Final rule)

ETAP Podcast: The I-24 Motion Test Bed

In this episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Lee Smith – interim traffic operations division director at the Tennessee Department of Transportation – and Professor Dan Work from Vanderbilt University discuss the I-24 Motion test bed.

[Above image via the Tennessee DOT]

Formally known as the I-24 Mobility Technology Interstate Observation Network, the “test bed” encompasses a six-mile stretch of I-24 in the Nashville-Davidson County Metropolitan equipped with over 300 ultra-high definition cameras. The images from those cameras are then converted into a “digital model” to demonstrate the behavior of every vehicle using the roadway.

[Editor’s note: This test bed is part of the larger I-24 SMART Corridor project directed by Tennessee DOT, which seeks to integrate freeway and arterial roadway elements, along with physical, technological, and operational improvements, to provide drivers accurate, real-time information for actively managing traffic volumes. The agency noted in April 2022 that it completed Phase 1 of the I-24 SMART Corridor project in December 2021 and expects to wrap up Phase 2 by the spring of 2023.]

Tennessee DOT noted the I-24 Motion test bed’s “digital model” is formed anonymously via artificial intelligence or AI trajectory algorithms developed by Vanderbilt University. That vehicle trajectory data allows traffic researchers to uncover new insights into how traffic flow influences individual vehicle behavior – particularly critical due to the increasing automation capability of individual vehicles.

By unlocking a new understanding of how autonomous vehicles influence traffic, vehicle and infrastructure design can be optimized to reduce traffic concerns in the future to improve safety, air quality, and fuel efficiency, Smith and Professor Work noted.

To listen to this episode of the ETAP Podcast, click here.

New York Governor Signs ‘Complete Streets’ Package

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) (above) recently signed a legislative package so the New York Department of Transportation can boost support for municipal “Complete Streets” projects.

[Above photo by the New York Governor’s Office]

A “Complete Street” is a roadway planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of roadway users of all ages and abilities. This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders, and motorists; it includes children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

New York’s legislation increases the state share of funding for municipalities incorporating Complete Street features. Under the new legislation, the state’s contribution to the non-federally funded portion of complete street projects will increase to 87.5 percent, which will help municipalities to implement these street designs.

“Whether you’re on the sidewalk, in the bike lane or riding the bus, you deserve a high-quality trip that gets you safely to your destination,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement.“Transportation is all about connections: bringing people closer to their jobs, their homes, and the people they love. I’m proud to sign two new laws that will make our streets safer and our communities more connected.”

There is a growing push at both the federal and state level to integrate complete street policies in surface transportation strategies across the country.

In March 2022, the Federal Highway Administration sent a report to Congress detailing the agency’s commitment to “advance widespread implementation of the Complete Streets design model” to help improve safety and accessibility for all users.

That report – entitled “Moving to a Complete Streets Design Model: A Report to Congress on Opportunities and Challenges” – identifies what FHWA calls “five overarching opportunity areas” that will guide the agency as it moves ahead with efforts to increase “Complete Streets.”

Many state departments of transportation have already adopted “Complete Streets” programs on their own, as noted in this report compiled by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

For example, in December 2021, the California Department of Transportation unveiled a new “Complete Streets” policy for all new transportation projects it funds or oversees in order to provide “safe and accessible options” for people walking, biking, and taking transit.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation put in place what it called a wide-ranging “Complete Streets” policy for the state-owned highway system in February 2021.

Meanwhile, on January 3, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation awarded $6.65 million to 15 local communities as part of round two of the fiscal year 2023 Complete Streets grants. This is the 14th overall grant round from MassDOT’s Complete Streets program; funds from which municipalities use to support local multimodal infrastructure projects that improve travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, public transit users, and people using other forms of transportation. “MassDOT is pleased to continue to work with municipal leaders to encourage the installation of infrastructure to help make for ‘Complete Streets’ everywhere,” noted MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler in a statement. “We want everyone in every city and town in the Commonwealth to have sidewalks, crosswalks, and other features which make it easy and safe to get to where they want to go.”

Environmental News Highlights – January 4, 2023

FEDERAL ACTION

GAO Declares Controversial FHWA Memo a Rule AASHTO Journal

FTA awards inaugural grants through All Stations Accessibility Program – Mass Transit

The EPA finalizes a water rule that repeals Trump-era changes – AP

7 cases that reshaped environmental law in 2022 – E&E News Greenwire

NEPA

Environmental Groups Lose Appeal Over Trump Era NEPA Review Rule – Bloomberg Law

INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Colorado DOT Creates Resiliency Video SeriesAASHTO Journal

Michigan Gov. Witmer backs fee for electric vehicles to fund road repairs – WJBK-TV

It’s electric: ADOT planning a statewide network of EV chargers along interstates – Cronkite News

With a national EV charging network on the horizon, can New Mexico keep up? KUNM Radio

Denver gave out huge rebates on electric bikes. Now it’s making the bike lanes they need Electrek

Navigating the e-bike boom with America’s outdated infrastructure – CNBC

Tampa installs a solar sidewalk to back up power for traffic signals at a downtown intersection – WUSF Radio

AIR QUALITY

Final EPA Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Slash Dangerous Pollution and Take Key Step Toward Accelerating Zero-Emissions Future – EPA (media release)

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

DelDOT looking to ease the stress of Route 1 cycling – Cape Gazette

Safety For All: Equity In Moving Toward Zero Deaths – Pennsylvania DOT (blog)

Navigating the pandemic is only one of the hazards disabled people face when flying – Prism

Pilot Program In Stockton, California Aims To Increase Transportation Equity
– Bay City News Foundation

The inside story of how Portland, Oregon, tried to address decades of racist transit policies – Fast Company

NATURAL RESOURCES

Tennessee DOT Tallies Litter Cleanup Numbers – AASHTO Journal

New wildlife crossings aim to reconnect animals isolated by I-90 to north Cascades – KING-TV

MN Department of Transportation partners with farmers to help keep snow off the roads – Agweek

CULTURAL RESOURCES

President Biden Announces Appointments to Route 66 Centennial Commission – White House

Hawaiian diacritical markings to be added to signs along the Leeward coast – Hawai’i Department of Transportation (media release)

HEALTH AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

Fairfax County, Virginia could put bicycles and transit on par with cars when gauging transportation needs – FFXnow

IndyGo showing off first look at new multi-use path along Purple Line – WXIN-TV

NYC plans to reimagine 5th Avenue as a ‘world-class public space’ with expanded pedestrian, bike access – Staten Island Advance

New Routes Added To U.S. Bicycle Route System, Now More Than 18,000 Miles – Forbes

TRB RESOURCES/ANNOUNCEMENTS
Success Strategies for Metropolitan Planning Organizations – TRB (webinar)

Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information for Decision Making – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICES

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program: Standards for 2023-2025 and Other Changes – EPA (Proposed rule)

Approval of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Vehicle Miles Traveled Emissions Offset Demonstrations for the 2015 Ozone Standards; California – EPA (Proposed rule)

Air Plan Approval; Texas; Reasonable Further Progress Plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth Ozone Nonattainment Area – EPA (Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking)

Notification of Request for Nominations to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council – EPA (Notice)

Notice of Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee Vacancies – Surface Transportation Board (Notice; solicitation of nominations)

Notice of Public Meetings of the Idaho Resource Advisory Council and the Lava Ridge Wind Project Subcommittee – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Application for Recertification of Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council – Coast Guard (Notice of availability; request for comments)

Call for Nominations for the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group Federal Advisory Committee – Bureau of Reclamation (Notice)

Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries Transported by Aircraft (FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Final rule)

Notice of Inventory Completion: Alabama Department of Transportation, Montgomery, ALNational Park Service (Notice)

Approval of LaGuardia Airport (LGA) Noise Compatibility Program – FAA (Notice)

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Park City Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore MassachusettsBureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments)