Environmental News Highlights – February 10, 2021


Registration for AASHTO’s Washington Briefing Now Open – AASHTO Journal

State DOTs Look to Work with Secretary Buttigieg to Improve Americans’ Quality of Life – AASHTO Journal

New bills target federal dollars to U.S. transportation infrastructure improvements – Transportation Today

How the Federal Government Could Help Kill the Highways It Built – CityLab

The Biden administration needs a climate migration coordinator – The Hill (Opinion)


Contactless Transit Fares Get a Pandemic Boost – CityLab

Webinar: Connecticut in Motion-Transit and COVID-19 – March 2 – Hartford Business Journal


Pipeline Ruling Bolsters Environmental Standard Trump Erased – Bloomberg Law

TVA asks for public comments about proposed nuclear reactor site – Oak Ridge Today

Cheney introduces bill to recognize local interests in NEPA decisions – Wyoming Tribune Eagle


More than 75 bills are related to the environment this session. Here are ones we’re following. – Indianapolis Star

Bay Area Rep Introduces Environmental Restoration Bill – KNTV-TV

Trees, housing key parts of Decatur and Agnes Scott’s climate resilience plan – Decaturish
Transportation & Infrastructure: What to Expect from the Biden Administration & 117th Congress – National Law Review


Tennessee Climate Office established at ETSU – Johnson City Press

Utah Bill To Raise Electric Vehicle Fees By Up To 400% Sparks Debate On Air Quality And Road Usage – KUER

Automakers Drop Opposition to California’s Vehicle Emissions Authority – Route Fifty

Saving Water Saves Energy and Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions – UC Davis (Press release)


DC DOT Advancing Transportation Equity – AASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

Transportation justice, commute knowledge, and equitable access – Penn Today

Baltimore to participate in Transit Equity Learning Lab – WMAR-TV


Caltrans seeks public input on active transportation plan survey – KNVN-TV

Kelowna looks to offer exclusivity for e-bike-share operator, not e-scooters – Lake Country Calendar

Bikeshare could soon get federal transit dollars – Greater Greater Washington

Knoxville regional study shows drop in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists – WATE-TV

SCDOT Adopts New “Complete Streets” Policy – South Carolina DOT (Press release)


New Mobility Services Combined with Transit Show Potential to Further Accessibility, Efficiency, Equity, Safety, and Sustainability – TRB

TRB Webinar: Retrospective, Perspective, and Prospective of Transit-Oriented Development – TRB

Planning and TDM (Part 1): An Engineer and a Planner Walk Into a Bar… – Association For Commuter Transportation (Webinar)

Verified: More Parking Puts More Cars on the Road – Sightline Institute

Impacts of transportation network companies on urban mobility – Nature Sustainability


National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Revision – FHWA (Proposed rule; extension of comment period)

Request for Nominations to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council – EPA (Notice)

Agency Information Collection Activities; Hydrography Addressing Tool – U.S. Geological Survey (Notice of Information Collection; request for comment)

Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; Google Research Climate and Energy Group – FAA (Notice)

Determination of a National Emergency Requiring Actions To Protect the Safety of Americans Using and Employed by the Transportation System – DHS (Notice)

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the South Fork Offshore Wind Project – National Marine Fisheries Service (Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal)

Video: Caltrans Uses Boat Fleet to Clear Waterways of Trash

The California Department of Transportation recently put together a video highlighting how its boat fleet in the San Francisco Bay Area – typically used to transport engineers, biologists, and maintenance crews to the area’s seven bridges – also helps clean up trash from local waterways and areas that are hard to reach by land.

[Photo courtesy of the California Department of Transportation.]

Illinois DOT Study Highlights Benefits of Rail-to-Trail Extension Effort

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently completed a study that outlines a variety of potential benefits from a proposed extension of the Urbana Kickapoo Rail-to-Trail project.

[Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Transportation.]

Known as the “KRT,” the agency said in a statement that the proposed trail extension project – which includes improved access for the Carle Health System and University of Illinois campuses – would “increase opportunities for active lifestyle habits, environmental enhancements, and economic benefits.”

The 24.5-mile KRT – formerly the Chessie Seaboard Multiplier/Conrail railroad – links Urbana to Kickapoo State Park passing through St. Joseph, Ogden, Fithian, Muncie, and Oakwood. The Illinois DOT has already helped develop approximately 7.5 miles of this corridor for recreation, including hiking, biking, and other non-motorized purposes, bringing economic, transportation, and environmental benefits to these communities.

The Illinois DOT noted that it has supported work on this trail – which touches some of the most diverse ecosystems in the area, including woodland, prairie, and wetlands – via $5.3 million in funds distributed through Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants.

In 2019, the agency’s District 5 Office of Highways Project Implementation joined local agencies for the construction of a 1,300-foot bridge on the KRT. The bridge project – targeted for completion in the spring of 2021 – sports an 88-foot elevation, providing a “spectacular vantage point” over the North Fork Vermilion River.

The Illinois DOT noted that acquiring the land for the KRT took nearly 20 years, with the trail’s development the result of partnerships between the county conservation districts, local communities, and the state. Plans for future advancement include fundraising, land acquisition, engineering, and environmental surveys.

report issued by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in October 2019 analyzed the potential economic benefits of “active transportation” investments, such as conversions of former railroad track areas to walking/biking trails.

The group’s report found that shifting short trips from driving to walking and biking via connected active-transportation infrastructure could help generate a return on investment of $73 billion to $138 billion per year in the United States if connected to public transit systems.

A key factor in its savings calculation argument is building more “synergy” between active transportation and public transportation. Currently, Rails-to-Trails said just 2.5 percent of all trips and 5 percent of work trips are made via public transit systems.