Idaho Seeks to Cut Infrastructure-Related Plastic Usage

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is engaged in a broad effort to develop environmentally-friendly solutions that reduce plastic waste from entering the natural environment; particularly where infrastructure projects are concerned.

[Above photo by the ITD]

For instance, the agency is now using biodegradable erosion control loose weave “blankets” without joints that allow snakes and other wildlife to easily move over or through them. Those “blankets” play a key role in the agency’s Erosion and Sediment Control or ESC practices that prevent soil loss and reduce sediment-laden stormwater runoff in and around transportation infrastructure.

Cathy Ford, the ITD’s roadside program administrator, noted that those ESC practices – used in transportation construction, maintenance, and operations activities – can be temporary or permanent.

She noted that biodegradable material will decompose under ambient soil conditions into carbon dioxide, water, and other naturally occurring materials within a time period relevant to the expected service life to the material.

“As more DOTs require the use of natural, biodegradable products, the upfront costs of purchasing the product are expected to decrease based on efficiency of scale,” Ford added in a statement.

The ITD said that plastics are commonly used as ESC solutions due to their availability, durability, and low cost, but they are rarely recycled, ending up in landfills or breaking down into micro-plastics, which are an emerging pollutant of concern.

Pieces of plastic netting can contaminate waterways and interfere with aquatic resources, the department noted, with plastic erosion control materials potentially ensnaring and killing fish and wildlife, interfering with highway mowing equipment, creating garbage, and resulting in added costs for removal and disposal.

The agency noted that older “photodegradable” plastics can still be intact a decade after construction projects are completed if vegetation prevents sunlight from breaking down the plastic. When these photodegradable plastics do break down, they continue to be a hazard to natural ecosystems as a micro-plastic, ITD explained. By contrast, biodegradable products typically degrade within one to two years into naturally occurring substances.

NCDOT Issues Online Map of EV Charging Locations

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently published an online map marking the locations for the first batch of electric vehicle or EV charging stations funded through the federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI formula program.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

The agency said its online map identifies the 11 locations along the alternative fuel corridor that will comprise Phase 1 of the project. NCDOT identified the 11 locations because they will fill the gaps where fewer EV charging stations currently exist and serve a more geographically diverse group of people in both rural and urban areas. 

Each location on the GIS map represents a cluster of one or more exits along the alternative fuel corridor, NCDOT said – and applicants must locate proposed charging stations within the designated clusters, with one charging station per cluster. 

The agency noted that it received $109 million in NEVI funds to develop the network along interstates, major highways and in communities. The funds are to be used to reimburse businesses for project costs, including procurement, installation and operation of EV charging stations.

NCDOT said Phase 1 of its EV charging network buildout will involve installation of DC Fast Chargers along interstates and major highways, along the alternative fuel corridors designated by the Federal Highway Administration. Those DC Fast Chargers will be able to charge an electric vehicle in about 20 minutes.

Phase 2 will then involve the build out of community-based DC fast chargers and Level 2 chargers that take between four and eight hours to fully charge an EV.

The agency added that expects to fully build out the state’s EV charging infrastructure over the next seven years.

“The build out of the EV charging stations will help our state advance clean transportation and be a great economic opportunity for businesses of all sizes,” said Paula Hemmer, NCDOT’s statewide initiative senior engineer, in a statement. “The map gives businesses an opportunity to determine where it would be economically feasible to build and operate EV charging stations,” she noted. “There are a lot of things to consider like whether a site is easily accessible to all travelers and a site’s proximity to amenities like restaurants and hotels.” 

In February, NCDOT said it expects to issue a request for proposals for people interested in applying for funds for Phase 1 of the EV charger installation.

Environmental News Highlights – January 17, 2024


FHWA Issues $623M in Charging/Fueling Grants -AASHTO Journal

$32.5 Million in Funding to Advance Transportation Electrification in USA –CleanTechnica

What you need to know to access the $14 billion from the EPA’s National Clean Investment Fund –GreenBiz


Idaho governor sets school buildings, water infrastructure and transportation as top priorities –AP

LA on a Mission to Electrify Transportation By the 2028 Olympics -Government Technology

California Pushes Electric Trucks as the Future of Freight -New York Times

Maryland Governor Joins U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Partners to Announce $15 Million in Funding for New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Across Maryland -State of Maryland (media release)



How 3 states are attacking carbon emissions from transportation -Smart Cities Dive

Embracing the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, or Not? -Advanced Clean Tech News

Ohio Law Bans State Adoption of California Emission Rules -Transport Topics

Electric school buses are a breath of fresh air for children –Grist

Separating myth from reality on climate change -Aspen Daily News



Colorado’s environmental justice efforts need a boost from lawmakers, advocates say -KCDO-TV

Hawaiʻi Seaglider Initiative hopes to provide low cost, accessible kamaʻāina transportation -Kauai Now



How clean is the upper Mississippi River? New report finds signs of improvement and emerging threats -Milwuakee Journal Sentinel


No joke: Feds are banning humorous electronic messages on highways –AP


NYCDOT’s “Smart Curbs” Test on Upper West Side Will Pit Car Owners Against Bikes and Pedestrians -West Side Spirit

Chicago panel gets earful about need for greater bicycle safety -WBBM Radio

Richmond Bridge Bike Path Has an Amazing View – and an Uncertain Future -KQED Radio


Public Health Research and Surveillance Priorities from the East Palestine Train Derailment Proceedings of a Workshop – in Brief -National Academies


National Maritime Security Advisory Committee; February 2024 Meeting -United States Coast Guard (Notice of open Federal advisory committee meeting)

Request for Nominations for the Working Group on Covered Resources to the Federal Highway Administration -FHWA (Notice)

Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Final Restoration Plan 4 and Environmental Assessment: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats; Nutrient Reduction (Nonpoint Source); and Provide and Enhance … -Natural Resources Conservation Service (Notice of availability)

Solicitation for Annual Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award -Office of the Secretary of Transportation (Notice)

Restoration Planning To Address 1999 Oregon-Washington Coast Mystery Oil Spill -Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice of intent to conduct restoration planning)

Notice of Availability of a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Expected Wind Energy Development in the New York Bight – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments)

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia -Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments)

Environmental Management Advisory Board -Office of Environmental Management, DOE (Notice of renewal)