Environmental News Highlights – January 27, 2021


AASHTO Sets 2021 Transportation Policy Priorities – AASHTO Journal

Federal court strikes down Trump administration’s rollback of Clean Air Act – Associated Press

Buttigieg Sees ‘Generational Opportunity’ to Transform the Nation’s Infrastructure – New York Times

Can Joe Biden get infrastructure done in 2021? – FreightWaves

Environmentalists challenge EPA change that allows Florida to control wetlands development – Sun-Sentinel


ACI Report: COVID-19 Pandemic Will Cost Airports Billions – AASHTO Journal

An unexpected COVID-19 victim – Recycling – Monterey Herald

Oklahoma Department Of Transportation Expecting $150M From Latest COVID Relief Package – KWGS

Could a COVID-19 surge lead to shutdowns at L.A. ports? Officials plead for dockworker vaccines – Los Angeles Times

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $15.8 Million in Grant Awards to 37 Projects Nationwide to Improve Operational Efficiency of Transit Agencies Affected by COVID-19 Public Health Emergency – FTA (Press release)


Infrastructure Investment Key to Economic Recovery, Groups Say – AASHTO Journal

‘Notorious’ Port Authority Bus Terminal May Get a $10 Billion Overhaul – New York Times

Philadelphia renews commitment to fighting climate change – KYW

America needs a climate adaptation strategy – The Hill (Opinion)

3 Ways the Biden Administration and Congress Can Lower America’s Flood Risk—and Costs – Pew

CTDOT Releases Updated Five-Year Capital Plan; Includes $9.7 Billion in Investments in Public Transportation, Roads, Bridges, Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements – Connecticut DOT (Press release)


New York City Ranked Top for Carbon-Friendly Transportation – Bloomberg Green

Toyota Motor Company to Pay $180 Million in Settlement for Decade-Long Noncompliance with Clean Air Act Reporting Requirements – US Department of Justice (Press release)


Why the Environmental Justice Movement Should Think Locally – New Republic (Opinion)


2021 Indiana Green Expo to go online with live and on-demand sessions – Purdue University

Wetlands permit decision due on natural gas pipeline in Somerset County – County Times

And finally… Network Rail on lookout for rare species with new technology – Scottish Construction Now


Nominations Sought for Outstanding Achievements in Historic Preservation – Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (Press release)


Brattleboro coalition advocates for safer infrastructure for cyclists, pedestrians – Brattleboro Reformer

Safety campaign to emphasize law requiring motorists to move over for cyclists – KLAS-TV

Littleton to improve pedestrian safety with CDOT grants – Littleton Independent

Virginia Beach Trail could be ‘life-changing’ when complete – WAVY-TV

When Commuting Comes Back, the E-Scooters Will Be Ready – CityLab


TRB Webinar: Options for Reducing Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft – TRB

TRB Webinar: People Movers and Shakers – Quality of Life in Airport Communities – TRB

Webinar: Transportation Inflection Reflection – Shared-Use Mobility Center

Q&A: IBTTA president Mark Compton – ITS International

Equity Summit – Smart Growth America (Announcement)


Streamlining U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Permitting of Rights-of-WayFish and Wildlife Service (Proposed rule)

Delegation of Authority to the Commonwealth of Virginia To Implement and Enforce Additional or Revised National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Standards and New Source Performance Standards – EPA (Notice of delegation of authority)

Delegation of Authority to the State of West Virginia To Implement and Enforce Additional or Revised National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Standards and New Source Performance Standards – EPA (Notice of delegation of authority)

Written Determination: Bicycle Use on Visitor Center Connector Trail at Arches National Park – National Park Service (Notice)

Buttigieg Highlights Climate, Active Transportation at Senate Hearing

Pete Buttigieg – former 2020 Democratic candidate for president and mayor of South Bend, Indiana – highlighted the importance of climate policy and active transportation needs within the Biden-Harris administration’s infrastructure investment plan during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on January 21 to be the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

“Safety is the foundation of the department [of transportation’s] mission, and it takes on new meaning amid this [COVID-19] pandemic,” Buttigieg said in his written testimony. “We must ensure all of our transportation systems – from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways, and pipelines – are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus.”

Nominated to be USDOT secretary by President Biden in December 2020, Buttigieg also stressed that investment in transportation infrastructure will play a critical role in both restoring and growing the U.S. economy.

“We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this by … creating millions of good-paying jobs, revitalizing communities that have been left behind, enabling American small businesses, workers, families and farmers to compete and win in the global economy, and tackling the climate crisis,” Buttigieg said.

“Infrastructure can be the cornerstone to all of this, and you have my commitment that I will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and growth that America needs in this area,” he emphasized.

Yet Buttigieg stressed during the question and answer portion of the hearing that, “ultimately, we cannot afford not to act on climate. The question becomes: How can we do that in a way that creates economic benefit in the near term, as well as preventing catastrophe in the long term?”

Buttigieg also stressed the need to expand the nation’s “mobility vision” when it comes to supporting active transportation efforts.

“There are so many ways that people get around,” he explained. “Often we’ve had an auto-centric view that has forgotten historically about all the other different modes. We want to make sure anytime we’re doing a street design that it enables cars, bicycles, pedestrians, businesses and any other mode to coexist in a positive way.” Buttigieg also emphasized that the United States has “historic opportunity here, on both sides of the aisle and with the public, for transportation investment – whether we are talking about trains, planes, and automobiles or next-generation transportation.”

Oregon DOT Begins Work on Bridge Resiliency Project

The Oregon Department of Transportation contractor has officially started work on a series of “bridge bundles” associated with the Southern Oregon Seismic Resiliency project.

[Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.]

That three-year-long, $45 million project – funded by the 2017 Keep Oregon Moving legislative package – seeks to rebuild or reinforce 17 bridges and seven slopes that could be affected by the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake Zone.

The agency noted in a statement that the first “bridge bundle” being addressed within this project is an effort to strengthen Interstate 5 Exit 80 bridges near Glendale. Other bridges in this first $12.7 million “bundle” include the I-5 Exit 58 north Grants Pass interchange bridges and the nearby I-5 Hillcrest Road Bridge near milepost 57.5.

In a November 2020 blog post, the Oregon DOT noted that experts say there is a one-in-three chance a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake could occur within the next 50 years. The concern is that a major earthquake would isolate much of that region due to bridge damage or outright destruction, with landslides triggered by an earthquake blocking key roadways.

Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation

Thus the idea behind the Southern Oregon Seismic Resiliency project is to “armor” key southern Oregon bridges and hillside slopes before a big earthquake strikes.

“The idea is to prepare now so the area can get back on its feet as quickly as possible, to get the region reconnected to the outside world,” explained Chris Hunter, Oregon DOT’s project manager. “How can we act strategically now to improve key bridges and known problem slopes to keep critical, life-saving goods flowing into and out of the region?“

He said Oregon DOT crews have prioritized or evaluated the most vulnerable bridges and slopes to keep the Rogue Valley connected along the I-5 corridor to Eugene and the Willamette Valley, as well as from the Rogue Valley east to the U.S. 97 corridor over Oregon 140. The plan is to quickly clear some kind of roadway connection – in the days and weeks after a subduction zone quake – even if it is a single lane or two. By keeping that connection, critical supplies can get into and out of the area, Hunter noted.