Podcast Interview: AASHTO President Craig Thompson

The latest episode of “The Stream by AASHTO” podcast – formerly the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast – features Craig Thompson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and 2023-2024 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

[Above image by AASHTO]

“The Stream by AASHTO” podcast is part of a technical service program for state departments of transportation provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. It explores a wide array of environmental topics that affect transportation and infrastructure programs.

For his term as AASHTO president, Thompson plans to focus on three key emphasis areas: Bolstering safety on America’s roadways, realizing the promise of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and reinvigorating the transportation workforce.

During his podcast interview, President Thompson shares insights into his presidential emphasis areas. Listen to this episode to gain a deeper understanding of this year’s AASHTO president and explore how his extensive experience has shaped AASHTO’s strategic focus for the 2023-2024 year.

[Editor’s note: AASHTO recently released a “presidential profile” video of Thompson, which can been viewed below.]

In his role as the Wisconsin DOT secretary, Thompson oversees one of the largest state agencies, boasting a workforce of over 3,100 employees and managing a biennial budget exceeding $8 billion. The department includes the Division of Motor Vehicles, serving approximately 50,000 customers weekly, and the Division of State Patrol, responsible for law enforcement and assisting motorists across the state.

Thompson also brings over 30 years’ worth of transportation industry experience to his role as AASHTO president. In 2020, he was president of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials and was the executive director at the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin.

Joint Office Issues $46M for EV Infrastructure Grants

The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation or JOET – jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy – has issued $46.5 million in grants to 30 projects across 16 states and Washington, D.C, to help develop electric vehicle or EV infrastructure in rural, urban, and tribal communities as well as expand what it calls the “clean energy” workforce.

[Above image via the JOET]

The JOET added that this funding will also address barriers to charging in multifamily housing facilities, explore new approaches to curbside charging in urban areas, promote seamless connections across modes through e-mobility hubs, and test new incentive structures to provide affordable public charging access.

“[We are] proud to fund these game-changing clean transportation projects in communities across the country,” said Gabe Klein, the JOET’s executive director, in a statement.

“These investments ensure we can meet unique local needs, create good-paying jobs, innovate new business models, test products thoroughly, and work towards our goal of making it easy for everyone to ride and drive electric,” he added.

The JOET has also helped developed a variety of resources to help support the expansion of EV infrastructure across the country.

For example, in conjunction with the USDOT, the JOET helped issue a technical resource in July 2023 designed to aid larger communities take full advantage of federal funding for electric vehicle charging stations and other forms of electric transportation.

That guide – called “Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Urban Electric Mobility Infrastructure” – provides a comprehensive resource for communities, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation providers, businesses, and property owners and developers by including information on how to scope, plan, and identify ways to best leverage billions of dollars in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA.

It follows on the heels of the Rural EV toolkit originally issued by the USDOT in 2022 and later updated in 2023. 

The toolkit builds on the efforts of the Joint Office to provide states and communities across America with information and assistance to accelerate an electrified transportation system that is convenient, affordable, reliable, and equitable. It also includes guidance to help urban areas implement other forms of electric transportation, such as public transit, electric bikes and scooters, and ride-share services, USDOT said.  

Environmental News Highlights – February 21, 2024



Knowledge Session: Navigating Federal Policy Changes -AASHTO Journal

Will America ever stop building more highways? -Washington Post

EPA Chief Michael Regan Wants to Advance Environmental Justice – With the Energy Industry’s Help –Time

Reforming the Governance of Metropolitan Planning Organizations -Center for American Progress

The domino effect of transport sector decarbonization -GreenBiz

USDOT Releases 2023 Equity Action Plan Update -USDOT (media release)



Maryland Governor unveils $90M for environmental initiatives -WJZ-TV

Maine towns confront climate choice: Rebuild a road or save a marsh? -Portland Press Herald

NYC plans 6 new waterfront shipping hubs to replace truck freight with barges –Gothamist

Here are 8 ways building bike lanes benefit more than just bicyclists –Momentum

New EV Hybrid stickers for first responder safety are ready for Wisconsin license platesWisconsin Department of Transportation (media release)



California Ports Deploying Air Pollution Capture for Ships -Transport Topics

Maryland transportation officials have ambitious climate goals – can they get there? -Baltimore Banner

Transportation is polluting North Texas air. Officials seek about $200M for solutions -KERA Radio

People are moving out of cities with poor air quality – but many end up facing other climate risks –CNBC

California Continues to Expand Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Rail Fleet -Caltrans (media release)



How Does Eco Restoration Improve Environmental Justice? –WGBH

UMass Amherst study shows low income communities in Mass. are twice as likely to have poor roads -New England Public Media

Louisiana v. EPA: A Turning Point for Title VI and Environmental Justice? -Troutman Pepper (opinion)



Federal judge ends Florida’s oversight on wetland development -Tampa Bay Times

Remote weather stations see maintenance and innovation -Illinois Department of Transportation (blog)

‘A race to the bottom’: Indiana wetlands bill could affect Great Lakes, Mississippi River -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



These Photos Capture Every First and Last Subway Stop in New York City -Smithsonian



City Of Newport Beach, California Launches E-Bike Safety Page -Newport Beach-Corona Del Mar Patch

A closer look at Charlotte’s ‘roads-first’ mobility plan -WFAE Radio

The 5 Principles That Make America’s Best Bike Lanes: A Lot More Than Painted Lines –Velo

Uber, Lyft Differences Boil Down to Transportation vs End-to-End Mobility –PYMNTS



Review of Approaches for Managing Pollutant Loads in Highway Stormwater Runoff Meeting 2 –TRB

Airport Energy Resiliency Roadmap –ACRP

Planning for the Emergence of Urban Air Mobility at Aviation Facilities -ACRP (webinar)

2023 Trend Report for Planners -American Planning Association



Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity (ACTE); Notice of Public Meeting -Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (Notice)

Draft Approach for Implementation of the EPA Label Program for Low Embodied Carbon Construction Materials; Notice of Availability, Webinar and Request for Comment -EPA (Notice)

Shipping Safety Fairways Along the Atlantic Coast; Geographic Information System Files -Coast Guard (Notice of availability)

National Wetland Plant List -Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)

Procedures To Implement the Principles, Requirements, and Guidelines for Federal Investments in Water Resources -Army Corps of Engineers (Proposed rule)

Notice of Call for Nominations for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee -Office of the Secretary, Interior (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon -Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice)