Environmental News Highlights – February 22, 2023


Cities scramble to implement climate law – Energy News Network

Environmental groups call on Buttigieg to restore Obama-era train brake rule – The Hill

How to reform federal permitting to accelerate clean energy infrastructure: A nonpartisan way forward – Brookings

Governors Collaborate to Speed Energy Infrastructure Construction National Governors Association (media release)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Latest Steps to Deliver a National Network of Convenient, Reliable, Made-in-America Electric Vehicle Chargers – FHWA (media release)


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic; Continuation of National Emergency (Notice of February 10, 2023) – Presidential Document


NCDOT ‘Bump-Outs’ Help Prevent Street Flooding – AASHTO Journal

To tap U.S. government billions, Tesla must unlock EV chargers – Reuters

Chattanooga Will Use Smart Intersection Insights To Plan EV Charging Stations – StateTech

California agencies form partnership to prepare Highway 37 for sea level rise – Pacific Sun

Who moves and who pays? Managed retreat is hard, but lessons from the past can guide us – The Conversation


Colorado lawmakers want more flexibility for ozone-season free transit programColorado Newsline

DOE Funds Plans for EV Charging, Hydrogen Fueling on Freight Corridors – Transport Topics

Virginia lawmakers kill bill that would have repealed law on California car emission standards – The Virginian-Pilot

FAA clears hydrogen-powered airplane for first flight – Seattle Times

Air pollution now linked to late-life depression – Air Quality News


Road to Ruin – Baltimore Magazine

Not just building roads: MoDOT aims to fight homelessness – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Researchers illuminate gaps in public transportation access, equity – University of Illinois

Why a pipeline project in Houston is raising concerns over environmental racism – USA Today


FDOT officials say drivers are responsible for over 200 tons of trash collected on Southwest Florida highway – WFTX-TV

Wildlife Crossings Along U.S. Roads Can Benefit Animals, People, and Climate – Pew


Ferry to Angel Island State Park going electric – CBS/Bay City News Service

Take Me Out to the Wind Turbines – Bloomberg Green


Bicyclists say Albuquerque trail is getting dangerous – KRQE-TV

Montana Bill Allowing E-Bikes Wherever Bicycles Are Allowed, Advances In Key VoteMontana Free Press

San Antonio’s population growth adds congestion, danger for local cyclists – San Antonio Report

Shenandoah Valley Rail Trail supporters to meet along proposed trail route – Northern Virginia Daily

VCU kicks off pedestrian safety campaign with referees – Axios

Norfolk, Nebraska adds cameras on traffic signals for pedestrians – Norfolk Daily News

Should Electric Scooters Make A Universal Sound To Alert Pedestrians? – InsideEVs

State Patrol says Coloradans need to become better pedestrians – KRDO-TV

Port Authority Opens Newly Renovated And Vastly Improved Bicycle And Pedestrian Walkway On North Side Of George Washington Bridge As Part Of Comprehensive ‘Restoring The George’ Program – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (media release)


Advancing Transportation Equity – Key Insights from 2021 and Looking to 2024 – TRB (Webinar)

The Jury is Still Out – The Latest on Recycled Plastic Waste in Asphalt – TRB (Webinar)

TRB Webinar: Use of Recycling Agents in Asphalt Concrete Mixtures – TRB (Webinar)

Partnerships for Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery – TCRP

Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals – NCHRP

Systemic Inequality in the Airport Industry: Exploring the Racial Divide – ACHRP

Launching a Transit Revolution: Addressing Barriers Preventing Youth from using Public Transportation to Get to and from School – Mineta Transportation Institute


Notice of Public Meeting of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee – National Invasive Species Council (Notice)

Protection of Marine Archaeological Resources – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comment)

Navigation and Navigable Waters, and Shipping; Technical, Organizational, and Conforming Amendment – Coast Guard (Final rule)

National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change – Council on Environmental Quality (Notice of extension for request for comments)

Air Plan Approval; California; Innovative Clean Transit Regulation – EPA (Final Rule)

Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education; Notice of Meeting – National Science Foundation (Notice)

Response to Western Water Quantity (WWQ) Listening Session – Natural Resources Conservation Service (Notice)

Public Conduct on Bureau of Reclamation Facilities, Lands, and Waterbodies – Bureau of Reclamation (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Caltrans to Help Build Highway/Rail Wildlife Overpass

The California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and passenger rail provider Brightline West plan to jointly design and construct three wildlife overcrossings across Interstate 15 and the future Brightline West high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.

[Above photo by Caltrans]

Those overcrossings seek to provide a sustainable and safe path for wildlife – especially for bighorn sheep – over the existing northbound and southbound highway lanes and the future 218-mile high-speed rail system to be built within the median, explained California Governor Gavin Newsom (D).

“Roadways and rail lines must be designed to connect, not divide,” he said in a statement. “This project will not only protect the precious wildlife and habitat of the Mojave Desert region but will also get people between Las Vegas and Southern California safely and efficiently – preserving one of the most popular corridors in our state.”

Beyond building those three wildlife overcrossings, the Brightline West project aims to maintain or improve more than 600 culverts and large-scale crossings under I-15 that exist today as well as restore and install desert tortoise fencing and directional wildlife exclusionary fencing.

Over the past year, Brightline, Caltrans and CDFW said they have worked together to develop a coordinated plan to fund, design, construct and maintain these wildlife overcrossings. The parties intend to fund the overcrossings using a mix of Caltrans, CDFW and Brightline West capital resources, while also seeking federal dollars.

Concurrently, a recent blog post by the Pew Trusts highlights how the growing success of wildlife crossings – bridges, underpasses, and culverts designed to help animals avoid vehicle traffic – across the U.S. is drawing a surge of interest from policymakers seeking to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and protect animals.

State departments of transportation across the country continue investing in a variety of wildlife crossing projects.

For example, to date, Colorado DOT said it has built more than 60 wildlife mitigation structures crossing above or under highways throughout the state. Additionally, it has installed 400 miles of high big game fencing along state and U.S. highways or next to the interstates.

In August 2022, the agency completed a wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 in the southwestern part of the state; a stretch of road where more than 60 percent of all crashes are due to wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Meanwhile, a research document released in July 2022 by an international pool funded study led by the Nevada Department of Transportation provides an “authoritative review” of the most effective measures to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, improve motorist safety, and build safer wildlife crossings.

With as many as two million collisions with large mammals in the United States leading to approximately 200 human deaths every year, the review compiled, evaluated, and synthesized studies, scientific reports, journal articles, technical papers, and other publications from within the United States and beyond to determine effectiveness of 30 different mitigation measures.

Video: How KYTC Biologists Restore Streams, Wetlands

A recent video released by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet highlights how the agency’s biologists work to restore and improve streams and wetlands involved in state transportation projects.

[Above image via KYTC]

KYTC has worked closed with the Federal Highway Administration as well as other federal, state, and local agencies to identify and resolve environmental challenges on transportation projects. That results in more efficient environmental processes, thereby reducing time and funds to be expended on transportation projects, noted KYTC. 

KYTC noted that it works with a wide range of groups to tackle such mitigation projects, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the American Indian Tribal Outreach program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among others. Each of those “partnering efforts” discusses particular challenges common to transportation projects and provide resolutions beneficial to the environment.

State departments of transportation across the country tap into a variety of “biological resources” to minimize the environmental impact of infrastructure projects under their purview.

For example the Arizona Department of Transportation detailed in April 2022 how “biomonitor” teams from Northern Arizona University or NAU help the agency’s crews find and relocate endangered species – including snakes, birds and fish – from construction sites.

Specifically, those biomonitor teams train construction workers and others involved in transportation projects to identify any endangered species and what to do if they come across one. The teams also monitor construction activity and help safely remove any endangered species out of harm’s way.

Meanwhile, July and August every year, the North Carolina Department of Transportation temporarily lowers speed limits from 55 mph to 20 mph on the William B. Umstead Bridge – locally known as the old Manns Harbor Bridge – at dusk and dawn during the roosting period of purple martin bird flocks.

NCDOT noted in August 2022 that it has collaborated with the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society since 2007 to educate the public about the purple martin flocks, to protect both the birds and motorists.

From late July through August, the west end of the bridge becomes home to as many as 100,000 purple martins as they prepare for their annual migration to Brazil. The birds roost under the bridge at night, departing at dawn to feed and returning at sunset. The flock is so large during its peak that it is visible on radar.