Environmental News Highlights – February 2, 2022


Coalition Urges Passage of Full FY 2022 AppropriationsAASHTO Journal

AASHTO Provides EV Charging Feedback to FHWA – AASHTO Journal

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to consider limiting wetlands regulation – Reuters

Environmental groups aren’t pushing Supreme Court picks. Here’s why. – Washington Post

The electrical grid of the future must be built around community need – The Hill (Opinion)

USDOT Announces Availability of $1.5 Billion in RAISE Grants Made Possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – USDOT (Media release)


NYC Transit Tech Lab Names COVID-19 Response Challenge Winners – Government Technology

During COVID-19, Road Fatalities Increased and Transit Ridership Dipped – GAO (Blog)


WYDOT Proposes Reroute Of I-80 To Avoid Winter Closures – Cowboy State Daily

Urban Villages: The Key to Sustainable Community Economic Development – Planetizen

Alaska’s only Arctic deep draft port will get hundreds of millions of dollars from infrastructure bill – KNOM Radio

Massachusetts to install solar noise barrier along highway – PV Magazine

North Carolina Governor: A gas tax in a world that’s turning away from gas isn’t sustainable Charlotte Observer (commentary)

High-Speed Rail Board Clears Final Environmental Hurdles to Advance Service into Los Angeles California High-Speed Rail Authority (Media release)


Critics say infrastructure projects won’t make a big enough impact on climate change – NPR

Tech giants call on SCOTUS to let EPA regulate CO2 emissions – The Verge

All-Electric, Zero-Emissions Intercity Bus Makes Its Debut in Santa Barbara County – Santa Barbara Independent


New Jersey Pioneers Transportation Solutions For Mobility-Marginalized Communities – Forbes

How Can A Road Be Racist? Don’t Ask That Question In Michigan. – Deadline Detroit

Improving Transit Options for Underserved Youth in Kansas City – Government Technology

Public transportation in Central NY falls short for people with disabilities – Post-Standard

Fact Sheet: A Year Advancing Environmental Justice – The White House (Media release)


Georgia DOT Expanding Adopt a Highway Partnership – AASHTO Journal

Central Park Is Opening a Lab to Study Climate Change – CityLab

Walton planners, commissioners seek more input from public on tree protection, preservation proposals – Northwest Florida Daily News

Fishermen Discouraged by EPA’s Delayed Timeline to Protect Bristol Bay Salmon Fishery – Alaska Native News


WisDOT program aims to improve transportation accessibility – WKBT-TV

5 U.S. Cities Where Bike Commuting Is Booming – CityLab

Wilmington, North Carolina Launches Mobility-As-A-Service Solution – SmartCitiesWorld

Construction begins on Pershing Bikeway – KGTV-TV

County Executive, Office of Transportation Announce Interactive Map Tool for County’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan – “Walk & Roll Anne Arundel!” – Anne Arundel County (Media release)


Preparing for Winter Weather with Transportation Resources – TRB

Highway Capacity Manual 7th Edition – TRB

Advancing the Role of Women in Transportation with Laura Chace, ITS America President and CEO – ITE Talks Transportation (Podcast)


Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Proposal To Find That Louisiana Has Satisfied All Conditions of Approval Placed on Its Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control ProgramNOAA and EPA (Notice) (Click here for link to correction)

Air Plan Approval; FL; Removal of Motor Vehicle RulesEPA (Final rule)

Air Plan Approval; New Hampshire; ConformityEPA (Proposed rule)

Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; New York; Ozone and Particulate Matter Controls StrategiesEPA (Proposed rule)

Visitor Experience Improvements Authority Contracts – National Park Service (Proposed rule)

Pipeline Safety: Informational Webinar Addressing Inspection of Operators’ Plans To Eliminate Hazardous Leaks, Minimize Releases of Methane, and Remediate or Replace Leak-Prone PipePipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice)

National Institute of Standards and Technology Standards and Performance Metrics for On-Road Autonomous Vehicles: Workshop – National Institute of Standards and Technology (Notice)

National Advisory Committee on Coal – Department of Energy (Notice of re-establishment)

National Advisory Council – FEMA (Solicitation; request for applicants for appointment to the National Advisory Council)

Caltrans Approves Use of Low-Carbon Cement

The California Department of Transportation recently approved the use of low-carbon cement to help reduce the carbon footprint of the state’s transportation system.

[Above photo by Caltrans]

Known formally as Portland Limestone Cement or PLC, low-carbon cement is a blended product containing higher limestone content. Using more limestone creates less “clinker,” the basic component in nearly all types of cement, in the manufacturing process; generating less carbon dioxide as a result.

Caltrans said its road construction and maintenance projects could generate less carbon dioxide with the same high-performance standards at a slightly lower cost by using more PLC. For example, in 2017 alone, Caltrans used 325,000 tons of cement to upgrade the state highway system. Switching to low-carbon cement could potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 28,000 tons a year — the equivalent of removing more than 6,000 cars off the road.

“Using low-carbon cement can cut Caltrans’ concrete-related carbon dioxide emissions annually by up to 10 percent,” noted Toks Omishakin, director of Caltrans, in a statement. “This is a big step in supporting California’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.”

The agency based its new low-carbon cement standards on Caltrans-funded research conducted at Oregon State University, which concluded that PLC is equally suitable for Caltrans’ construction projects as ordinary cement with a reduced carbon footprint.

Throughout the review process, Caltrans worked closely with the California Air Resources Board plus industry experts and stakeholders, such as the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association and the California Nevada Cement Association, to draft the new standard specifications.

AASHTO Sends Floodplain Management Comments to FEMA

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sent a five-page letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on January 27 to provide feedback on floodplain management standards for land management and use; a key part of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP.

[Above image via FEMA]

Developed with the assistance of the AASHTO Technical Committee on Hydrology and Hydraulics, the letter cautions against creating more requirements for specific threatened and endangered “T&E” species as that could create a “patchwork of complex regulations” among multiple federal agencies that would further complicate floodplain permitting.

”Additional impact restrictions imposed by a change to the NFIP minimum floodplain management standards could potentially delay or prevent fish passage projects at some [state] DOTs that have their own environmental regulations and requirements regarding T&E,” AASHTO said.

The organization also recommends that the NFIP focus on floodplain management while other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service focus on T&E.

On another front, AASHTO pointed out that improving the distinction between river and coastal standards is critical as environmental and climate concerns are much different between them.

“State DOTs across the country are struggling with the best method to address climate change,” the letter explained. “[Yet] climate science regarding future flooding events is in a very immature state and is not well developed. Incorporation into the NFIP should not be considered until the science has stabilized and an acceptable design method is available to [state] DOTs.”

AASHTO added that a memorandum of understanding between FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration regarding hydraulic modeling within the special hazard flood area or SFHA within the NFIP would be beneficial to state DOTs.

That would be especially true when it comes to handling minor culvert and bridge maintenance, as well as ways to improve hydraulic models to limit any potential damage to streams, creeks, or other bodies of water in and around transportation projects, the organization noted.

ETAP Podcast: Preserving Post-WW2 Historical Homes

This episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast discusses ways state DOT cultural resources programs within state departments of transportation are exploring to identify and preserve homes built in the 30 years following World War II that may have potential historical significance.

[Above photo of Levittown, NY, circa 1948]

At the end of World War II, a huge demand for housing ensued. With the help of the G.I. Bill and Federal Housing Administration loans, many returning soldiers were in the market for a new home. The construction boom contributed to what is now termed “post-war” architecture.

However, as those homes – built in the late 1940s through the 1970s – begin to age into potential historical significance, cultural resource practitioners have their work cut out for them.

Scott Williams, cultural resources program manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation, explains how his and other similar groups at state DOTs across the country are trying to post-war home historical preservation demands.

On the podcast, Williams explains how the cultural resources subcommittee within the AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability is conducting a nationwide survey of state DOT post-war practices and protocols when it comes to housing preservation.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

California Governor Proposes Zero Emission Vehicle Package

Governor Gavin Newsom (D) (seen above) has introduced a $6.1 billion zero-emission vehicle or ZEV fiscal support package to accelerate the state’s transition to ZEVs and “fight climate change” in the process.

[Above photo by the California Governor’s Office]

Combined with a $3.9 billion ZEV investment package signed into law in September 2021, California would ultimately outlay $10 billion to support broader ZEV deployment statewide.

That spending also dovetails the governor’s executive order issued in September 2020 requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California by 2035 must be zero-emission vehicles.

“The future is electric, and we’re making it easier and cheaper than ever before to go electric. That means more assistance to help folks buy clean cars and more charging stations in more communities throughout the state,” said Gov. Newsom in a statement.

This latest funding proposal would also support the construction of vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure needed to “facilitate” the state’s transition to ZEVs.

The governor’s $6.1 billion package includes:

  • Low-Income Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure: $256 million for low-income consumer purchases, and $900 million to expand affordable and convenient ZEV infrastructure access in low-income neighborhoods. These investments will focus on planning and deploying a range of charging options to support communities, including grid-friendly high-power fast chargers and at-home charging.
  • Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles and Supporting Infrastructure: $935 million for the purchase of 1,000 zero-emission short-haul drayage trucks and 1,700 zero-emission transit buses. Another $1.5 billion would support the purchase of electric buses for school transportation programs. A further $1.1 billion would help buy zero-emission trucks, buses, and off-road equipment plus related fueling infrastructure, with $400 million to enable port electrification.
  • Zero-Emission Mobility: $419 million to support sustainable community-based transportation equity projects that increase access to zero-emission mobility in low-income communities. This includes supporting local clean mobility options plus sustainable transportation and equity projects.
  • Emerging Opportunities: $200 million to invest in demonstration and pilot projects in high carbon-emitting sectors, such as maritime, aviation, rail and other off-road applications, as well as support for vehicle grid integration at scale.