Environmental News Highlights – January 26, 2022


Transportation Committees Prep New Waterways Bill – Transport Topics

White House to ask mayors nationwide to name infrastructure coordinators – Spectrum News

U.S. Army Plans $14 Billion for Ports, Waterways and Climate Help – Bloomberg Green

EPA, blue states push back on Republicans’ SCOTUS bid to curb agency powers – Reuters

Cassidy, Coons, Murkowski Unveil Landmark Bipartisan Climate Resilience Legislation – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (Media release)


Supreme Court rejects bid to block mask mandate on airplanes – The Hill

Air quality back to pre-pandemic levels – KARE-TV


Court may back Mountain Valley pipeline, despite NEPA fight – E&E News


AASHTO Issues Bridge Guide for Tsunami Effects – AASHTO Journal

AASHTO Supporting EV Infrastructure Webinar Series – AASHTO Journal

The U.S. is divided over whether nuclear power is part of the green energy future – AP

14 streetlight sensors are collecting data on a Center City block as part of a ‘smart cities’ pilot – Billy Penn


Two Governors Issue ‘Clean Transportation’ Executive Orders – AASHTO Journal

National coalition to advance the development of hydrogen fuel cell buses formed in the U.S. – Intelligent Transport

How can transportation companies reach their sustainability goals? With better data – Fast Company

Projects would harvest CO2 for transport in pipelines across five statesKELO-TV

Clean fuel standard would build economy, reduce emissions – Las Cruces Sun News (Opinion)


Universities may fall short promoting biking to underserved populations – Penn State University

Giant sky-high train bridge through downtown will ruin Fort Lauderdale, mayor says – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

To Skirt Air Pollution Oversight, States Can Play Hide and Seek – Undark

Can AI-powered congestion pricing improve transportation equity? – GCN


Maine highway planners look to new federal funding for village projects – Portland Press Herald

Bicyclists & Pedestrians Must Wait to Use New, I-74 Bridge Trail – WVIK Radio

New bike lanes coming for Richmond cyclists – Richmond News

CVRD to host virtual open houses on its active transportation plan – Cowichan Valley Citizen

Small Electric Shuttles Ideal for Last-Mile Transit – Government Technology

Show the City Where You Want to See Walking and Biking Route Improvements with New Public Input Map – City of Austin (Media release)


Breaking Barriers: Alternative Approaches to Avoiding and Reducing Highway Traffic Noise Impacts – TRB

Flying in the COVID-19 Era: Science-based Risk Assessments and Mitigation Strategies on the Ground and in the Air – TRB

Embracing the Unknown – Strategic Transportation Planning in the Pandemic Age – TRB


National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) 2022 Issuance of General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities – EPA (Notice of final permit issuance)

Control of Air Pollution From Aircraft Engines: Emission Standards and Test Procedures; Rescheduling of Public Hearing EPA Proposed rule; rescheduling of public hearing)

Maryland Works to Reduce Road Salt’s Environmental Impact

In conjunction with several state agencies, including the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is spearheading an effort to reduce the amount of salts entering rivers, streams, and groundwater while also ensuring roads remain safe for winter travel.

[Above photo by the Maryland DOT]

MDE has been working for several years with state agencies and local jurisdictions on new salt application strategies, including use of improved weather forecasting, using the right amount of salt, targeting roads in most need of treatment, using brine to reduce overall salt usage, and increasing training for employees and contracted equipment operators.

The agency noted that Maryland DOT’s State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) has used those and other strategies over the past five years to reduce its overall salt usage up to 50 percent.

MDOT SHA has moved to use salt brine – a liquid solution that is 22 percent salt and 78 percent water – before, during, and after winter weather events. Pre-treating roads with salt brine prevents the initial bonding of snow or ice, thus giving road crews time to mobilize. The agency now has two “tow plows” – separate plows towed behind a salt/plow truck to clear an additional travel lane – which enhance snow-clearing operations and reduce the need for road salting.

MDOT SHA has also designated salt brine-only routes for the duration of winter storms, resulting in less overall salt use when compared to routes where only rock salt is used. The agency pre-wets rock salt with salt brine to reduce the “bounce and scatter” effect of salt solids ricocheting off the highway.

MDOT SHA also works with weather forecasters to develop a treatment plan and employs more than 100 mobile infrared sensors at key locations, along with mobile sensors, to determine conditions and target its storm deployment – greatly contributing to salt reduction efforts.
“[We] congratulate and thank the Maryland Department of Transportation for leading by example when it comes to reducing the use of road salts that can threaten public health and our environment,” said Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, in a statement.

While sodium chloride or salt is effective, relatively inexpensive, readily available, and easily stored, it can destroy a soil’s structure and cause erosion, damage, and kill vegetation, while contributing to the corrosion of metal bridges and motor vehicles, MDE said. It can also seep into groundwater and runoff into surface waters, contaminating wildlife habitats and potentially affecting drinking water.

The agency noted it has increased monitoring for sodium chloride in the environment to gain information to help develop restoration plans. However, MDE noted that once salt has entered the environment there is no effective way to remove it. Thus, the best solution is a widespread, decreased use of road salt, it noted.

Colorado DOT Debuts Archeology TV Documentary

The Colorado Department of Transportation recently debuted a documentary called “Durango 550 – Path of the Ancestral Puebloans” to show how the agency worked with archaeologists and regional Native American tribes to document, study, and ultimately share the discoveries unearthed near Durango in southwest Colorado.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

The archaeological excavation took place in 2018 and 2019 ahead of construction on the US 550-US 160 Connection South project in 2020.

“This documentary shows the unique collaboration of all entities involved, laying the groundwork for a new approach to archaeology, blending western science with traditional cultural beliefs,” explained Greg Wolff, a Colorado DOT archaeologist, in a statement. “Tribal members frequently visited the project area during the excavations. Tribal elders contributed traditional knowledge, experience, and spiritual guidance to the archaeologists and other project staff members.”

The documentary features several tribal representatives involved in the project and other tribal members who worked and trained as paid interns, participating in both the excavations and educational outreach. The documentary also touched upon tribal youth groups involved with the excavation.

The 30-minute documentary – created by the Grit and Thistle Film Company – aired on the Rocky Mountain PBS station on January 16 and will air again on March 17. It is also available for viewing on the television station’s website and mobile app.