FHWA Offering $250M in Congestion Reduction Grants

The Federal Highway Administration recently made $250 million available, over five years, in competitive grants to support multimodal solutions that reduce vehicular traffic and air pollution in heavily congested metropolitan areas across the United States.

[Above photo by Ohio DOT]

The FHWA said its new Congestion Relief Program – created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – is now accepting applications for the first round of grants via a notice of funding opportunity, which provides $150 million in grants for fiscal years 2022, 2023, and 2024. The agency stated that these grants are available to states, metropolitan planning organizations, cities, and municipalities for projects within urban areas with a population of at least one million.

[Editor’s note: The Ohio Department of Transportation recently unveiled new system designed to detect traffic congestion and subsequently warn motorists of dangerous “slow-downs” at 13 highway sites in and around major urban centers across Ohio identified by the agency as “high-congestion, high-crash” areas.]

FHWA added that its new Congestion Relief Program provides grants to projects that reduce highway congestion and the economic and environmental costs associated with congestion, including pollution from transportation emissions. The agency noted that the program also optimizes existing highway capacity and transit systems, improves coordination with transit, and encourages other modes of travel.

According to FHWA, eligible projects include the deployment and operation of integrated congestion management systems, certain transit and mobility services, and incentive programs encouraging travelers to carpool, use transit, or travel during nonpeak periods. The agency added that it will “give priority” to projects that advance multimodal solutions for heavy traffic volumes in urban areas experiencing a high degree of recurrent congestion.

[Editor’s note: The Colorado Department of Transportation launched a new Bus Rapid Transit or BRT program for the Denver region in November 2023 designed in part to reduced congestion-related travel delays for bus riders. The agency said that BRT is a high frequency service designed to be “more reliable, convenient, and accessible” than traditional bus service; reducing delay points that can typically slow regular bus service, such as making long stops or getting stuck in traffic at intersections.]

“Traffic congestion without multimodal options is a major problem throughout America, especially in large metro areas, significantly limiting mobility and reducing clean air quality in our cities – while diminishing productivity nationwide because of higher costs when people and goods are delayed in traffic,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt in a statement.

“With this program, we’re aiming to tackle congestion and provide a higher standard of living and greater multimodal options and working for the people in populated areas,” he noted.

Kentucky Breaks Ground on Fast EV Charger Facility

Governor Andy Beshear (D) and Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, along with several state and local officials, recently gathered at the Circle K convenience store and filling station in Richmond, KY, to break ground on the first electric vehicle (EV) fast charging station in the southeastern United States built with funds from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.

[Above photo by KYTC]

Developers of privately-owned fast charging stations, mandated to remain open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are obligated to finance a minimum of 20 percent of the construction and operational costs for the initial five years, while NEVI funding will cover the remaining expenses. At the event, the governor noted that his administration is also seeking proposals to install up to 16 additional stations along interstates and parkways statewide using NEVI funding – all part of Kentucky’s longer-term effort to add up to 40 new fast charging stations by 2025.

“To make sure Kentucky keeps leading the way, we’re building out our EV infrastructure so our families can charge up as they travel our great state,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement – noting that Kentucky is set to receive nearly $70 million from the NEVI program to accomplish that goal.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responsible for administering those NEVI funds and for building out the state’s EV recharging network.

“The number of registered EVs in Kentucky continues to grow, and we want to ensure current and future owners have a reliable network of charging stations to support long-distance EV travel,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray.

The Circle K Richmond location is one of two awarded sites Circle K will own and operate – becoming one of the fast-charging EV stations to be built across Kentucky.

That Circle K Richmond charging site will initially offer four 180 kilowatt fast chargers, each ready to recharge a typical EV in under 20 minutes. The units, initially equipped with standard Combined Charging System 1 connectors, will undergo upgrades to North American Charging Standard connectors later this year. This transition will occur after the finalization of national standards and UL certification to ensure support for all current and future EV makes and models.

“We’re very pleased to partner with the state in bringing EV fast charging to the commonwealth with the support of the NEVI program,” said Louise Warner, Circle K senior vice president of global fuels. “Partnerships like these are helping to accelerate the development of charging infrastructure to keep pace with growing demand and EV adoption.”

Environmental News Highlights – February 28, 2024


AASHTO Names Chris Collins Vice Chair of Water Council -AASHTO Journal

SEC drops some emissions disclosure requirements from draft climate rules –Reuters

Supreme Court seems willing to block EPA ‘good neighbor’ air pollution rule -NBC News

FAA Finalizes Rule to Reduce Carbon Pollution from New Jets and Turboprops -FAA (media release)


Commuting in the United States: 2022 -Census Bureau (link to PDF)

Cell Phone Use In Cars Went Up During The Pandemic And Never Went Back Down –Jalopnik


San Francisco to set new rules for e-bikes, scooters powered by lithium-ion batteries -KGO-TV

Indiana Toll Road completes solar energy project -Elkhart Truth

In a US first, Seattle to deploy double-decker electric buses with inductive wireless charging –Electrek

How a small town with limited resources is planning for climate change -High Country News

Experts: Best Bet in $300M Osage Nation Wind Farm Dispute Is Negotiation -ENR Texas and Louisiana



Switching to EVs and clean power would save infant lives, help millions of kids breathe easier: Report -The Hill

EPA has tightened its target for deadly particle pollution − states need more tools to reach it -The Conversation

What Critics of the EPA’s ‘Good Neighbor’ Regulations Get Wrong About the Clean Air Act’s History -Time (opinion)


Imperial To Start $3M Highway 86 Beautification By May? -Calexio Chronicle

How Central Texas airports are planning for the total solar eclipse -KCEN-TV

To keep whales safe, Coast Guard launches boat alert system in Seattle –AP


Kenaitze Indian Tribe Purchases Building for Transportation Hub -Peninsula Clarion

An Online Film Festival That’s All About Cycling –Hyperallergic


Bend, Oregon could see new mobility hub as early as this summer-The Bulletin

The Impact of Ridesharing on Urban Mobility -The Weekly Driver

Study shows why bike lane projects are controversial and what cities can do to make it easier –Momentum

London Bike Boom Risks Becoming a Victim of Its Own Success -CityLab (perspective)

Albuquerque Launches Affordable Mobility Platform -City of Albuquerque (media release)


Elevating Equity in Transportation Decision Making: Recommendations for Federal Competitive Grant Programs -TRB (Special report)

The effect of climate vulnerability on global carbon emissions: Evidence from a spatial convergence perspective – ScienceDirect



Amending Regulations Relating to the Safeguarding of Vessels, Harbors, Ports, and Waterfront Facilities of the United States -The President (Executive order)

Exemptions From Average Fuel Economy Standards; Passenger Automobile Average Fuel Economy Standards -NHTSA (Final rule; final decision to grant exemption)

Draft Guidance for Future National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permitting of Combined Sewer Systems -EPA (Notice; request for comment)

Waste Emissions Charge for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems; Extension of Comment Period -EPA (Proposed rule; extension of public comment period)

National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee; Vacancies -Coast Guard (Notice; request for applications)

Technical Mapping Advisory Council -FEMA (Request for applicants for appointment)

Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting Notice -Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)

Public Meeting of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee -Geological Survey (Notice)

Pipeline Safety: Meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice)