Committee to Provide USDOT with Innovation Advice

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently formed the Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee or TTAC to provide insight to the agency regarding how to support and implement “innovations.”

[Above photo by the USDOT]

The department said the 27 members of this advisory committee were selected from across academia, think tanks, the public sector, labor, and private industry to offer insight on a wide-range of transportation-related topics such as automation, cybersecurity, safety, accessibility, entrepreneurship, privacy, equity, and more.

“We are living in a time filled with unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented challenges in transportation,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement.

“The deep expertise and diverse perspectives of this impressive group will provide advice to ensure the future of transportation is safe, efficient, sustainable, equitable, and transformative,” he added.

USDOT said that TTAC members will serve two-year terms and may be reappointed. The agency added that the first TTAC meeting will be held on January 18 and explore several key issues related to:

  • Pathways to safe, secure, equitable, environmentally friendly and accessible deployments of emerging technologies;
  • Integrated approaches to promote greater cross-modal integration of emerging technologies, in particular applications to deploy automation
  • Policies that encourage innovation to grow and support a safe and productive U.S. workforce, as well as foster economic competitiveness and job quality;
  • Approaches and frameworks that encourage the secure exchange and sharing of transformative transportation data, including technologies and infrastructure, across the public and private sectors that can guide core policy decisions across USDOT’s strategic goals; and,
  • Ways USDOT can identify and elevate cybersecurity solutions and protect privacy across transportation systems and infrastructure.

USDOT noted that its TTAC membership includes Eileen Vélez-Vega, secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Public Works and Transportation, as well as chair of the Council on Aviation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Eileen Vélez-Vega. Photo by AASHTO.

Raised in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, Vélez-Vega received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and a Masters in Engineering from Mississippi State University.

She interned at the Walt Disney World college program in Florida and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, then worked for four years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer as well as for the North Carolina-based Kimley-Horn design and planning firm. 

Vélez-Vega – who specializes in the design and construction for commercial and general aviation airports, as well as multidisciplinary projects and business development – returned to Puerto Rico in 2014 as Kimley-Horn’s vice president of business development on the island. She was named secretary of the Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works in 2020; the first woman to hold that role.

WSDOT Project Deters Wildfire Debris Flows

The Washington State Department of Transportation is wrapping up a project aimed at deterring debris flows along U.S. 2/Stevens Pass Highway from “burn scars” left behind by the 2022 Bolt Creek Fire, which burned nearly 15,000 acres in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

[Above photo by WSDOT]

The agency noted in a blog post about the project that wildfires can change the landscape, turning dense trees and vegetation into large areas with ashes and dry soil – areas known as burn scars.

“If it rains a lot or snow on the ground melts really fast, these burn scars can produce fast-moving landslides called debris flows,” WSDOT said. “These can be dangerous and might harm people and property within their path.”

After the Bolt Creek wildfire, WSDOT personnel studied the area and found two areas near the burn scar – about four miles northwest of Skykomish – that posed a “higher risk” of debris flows of mud and loose rock potentially affecting U.S. 2.

“We had to close U.S. 2 east of Gold Bar several times because of the active fire and debris falling onto the highway,” WSDOT noted. “The fire also left a burn scar that will take several years to recover.”

To mitigate the impact of such debris flows on the roadway and surrounding area, the WSDOT built a series of walls, berms, and fences along certain sections of U.S. 2 to protect both the roadway and its stormwater culverts.

WSDOT built two debris fences – one 60 feet long and the other 110 feet long – above specific culverts to help stop detritus from blocking roadway culverts if debris flows occur happens.

Along another section of the roadway, WSDOT built six-foot-tall wall, called a berm, made of natural materials. This berm will guide any potential debris flows away from U.S. 2 to a lower natural “catch” area near the highway. The berm is 94 feet long and required nearly 300 tons of material to build. In spring 2024, the agency said it will add native plant seeds to further help stabilize the berm area.

“Our maintenance crews will keep an eye on the highway along the burn scar, looking for downed trees and limbs, clearing ditches and culverts and looking for any early warning signs of a potential debris flow,” WSDOT noted. “Hopefully, the berm and the fences are never tested by a debris flow, but … we have taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk and keep U.S. 2 open while the area recovers from the Bolt Creek Fire.”

Environmental News Highlights – January 3, 2024


New Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Issued -AASHTO Journal

On the Heels of New Industry Standard for EV Charging, FHWA Takes Key Step Toward Updating Federal Standards to Promote Innovation -FHWA (media release)



Overshadowed by electrification push, hydrogen gains steam in Nevada public transportation -Nevada Independent


Hydrogen Hubs Central to State Government Action in 2023 -Transport Topics


MassDOT Shifts Into High Gear for Statewide Network of EV Fast-Charging Stations –Hoodline


Plans to install EV charging stations are about to run into an ugly wall of permitting and utility delays -Route Fifty (Commentary)



California Air Resources Board to Delay Enforcement of Registration Requirements -Transport Topics

Transit Agencies Lay Groundwork for Zero Emission Bus Fleet Overhaul –Metro



Podcast: Wrapping up the Transportation Equity Series -AASHTO Journal


A new tool designed to put environmental justice on the map in Colorado has faced a rocky rollout -Colorado Public Radio


States Will Need Millions to Protect Affected Wetlands –Governing

Arkansas DOT Releases Traffic Management Plan Ahead Of 2024 Total Solar Eclipse -Arkansas DOT (media release)

Popular Ice Control Products Used at Airports Can Increase Phosphorus in Nearby Waterways -US Geological Survey (media release)


How One Photographer’s Daily Obsession With the Golden Gate Bridge Saves Lives -San Francisco Standard


Native American Translations Being Added To More US Road Signs To Promote Language, Awareness –AP


Social media platform to reunite owners with stolen bicycles -Newry Democrat


E-scooter firms set out to revolutionize transportation. Instead, many are collapsing. –Marketplace

From Rails to Trails, with Peter Harnik -Resources Radio (link to podcast)


On-Demand Microtransit Can’t Escape This Big Problem –CityLab


Bicycles Still Not ‘Intended’ On Roads, Illinois Supreme Court Finds -Chicago Patch


What Will It Take To Create A Bicycle-Friendly Los Angeles? –CityWatch


Wheels Up! Alaska’s Rural Air Service –TRB


Framework for Implementing Constructability Throughout Project Development from NEPA to Final Design –NCHRP

Incorporating Nondestructive Testing in Quality Assurance of Highway Pavement Construction: Conduct of Research Report -NCHRP

Incorporating Nondestructive Testing in Quality Assurance of Highway Pavement Construction: Manual. –NCHRP

Challenges and Opportunities Toward a Just Transition and Sustainable Development: Proceedings of a Workshop – in Brief -National Academies


Governing urban regions with a network of plans –Cities


The potential of emerging bio-based products to reduce environmental impacts -Nature



National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Revision -FHWA (Final rule)

Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee; Public Meeting -Office of the Secretary, USDOT (Notice of public meeting)

Transportation Services for Individuals With Disabilities: ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities -USDOT {Extension of comment period)


California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Advanced Clean Cars II Regulations; Request for Waiver of Preemption; Opportunity for Public Hearing and Public Comment -EPA (Notice)


Air Plan Approval; Georgia; Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program -EPA (Proposed rule)


Water Quality Standards To Protect Aquatic Life in the Delaware River -EPA (Proposed rule)


National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Rubber Tire Manufacturing Amendments: Extension of Comment Period -EPA (Proposed rule)

Area Maritime Security Advisory Committee (AMSC), Eastern Great Lakes, Western New York Sub-Committee Vacancy -Coast Guard (Notice of availability of committee vacancy; solicitation for membership)


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Conduct Scoping Meeting for the Pier Wind Terminal Development Project at the Port of Long Beach, City of Long Beach and County of Los Angeles, California (SPL–2023–00720) -U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Future Floating Wind Energy Development Related to 2023 Leased Areas Offshore California -Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior (Notice; request for comments)

Safety Zone; South Fork Wind Farm Project Area, Outer Continental Shelf, Lease OCS–A 0517, Offshore Rhode Island, Atlantic Ocean -Coast Guard (Temporary interim rule and request for comments)


Notice of Teleconference Meeting of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee -Office of the Secretary, Interior (Meeting notice)