Environmental News Highlights – March 2, 2022


AASHTO Reps Share Infrastructure Insights at Hearing – AASHTO Journal

Governors Propose Big Transportation Investments – AASHTO Journal

Driving on the Right: America’s Polarized Transportation Policy – Governing

Will the Supreme Court Frustrate Efforts to Slow Climate Change? – New York Times (Opinion)

FTA Announces More Than $45 Million in Passenger Ferry Grant Awards to 11 States and Territories to Improve Public Transportation – FTA (Media release)

Application Process Opens for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds to Build Safe, Sustainable and Accessible Airport Terminals – FAA (Media release)


Why traffic deaths spiked more in the U.S. during COVID – Axios


Feds predict NEPA delays after court nixes climate metric – E&E News


MOU Seeks to Expand National EV Charging Network – AASHTO Journal

White House Infrastructure Webinars – National Governors Association

Maui Is Getting Ready To Move Part Of A Major Highway Due To Climate Change – Honolulu Civil Beat

How can states build resilience to sea level rise? Look to Louisiana – The Hill

How damaged concrete pipes are helping artificial reefs off NC coast – WNCN-TV

A highway paved with recycled diapers may change the cloth vs. disposables debate – Washington Post

Biden team seeks port revival plans as it spends infrastructure cash – Reuters


Maine ferry service to replace vessel with low emission tech – WCSH-TV

Why California’s Power to Regulate Auto Pollution Matters Nationwide – Route Fifty

The Other Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Rising Air Pollution – Time


Peduto administration pushed modern private transportation, development that hurt public transit, study says – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Program Brings Previously Unheard Voices To Portland, Maine-Area Transportation Boards – Portland Press Herald


Caltrans Awards $312M for Beautification Projects – AASHTO Journal

U.S. Chamber Letter on 2022 Water Policy Priorities – US Chamber of Commerce

Goat grazing pilot project wraps on Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Major hurdle cleared in plan to demolish 4 California dams – Bradenton Herald


New D.C. Council Bill Would Adopt ‘Idaho Stop,’ Allowing Cyclists To Treat Stop Signs As Yield Signs – DCist

Bike lanes, better lighting and new sidewalks coming to parts of Northern Virginia – WTOP Radio

House keeps alive $10M ‘active transport’ funds for paths, sidewalks – WyoFile

Philadelphia confronts mounting pedestrian deaths as rise in reckless driving hits national tipping point – PhillyVoice

Some Say City’s Actions Don’t Match Rhetoric on Pedestrian Safety – Columbus Underground

NDOT’s WalknBike update to create safer streets for Nashville pedestrians and bikers – WZTV-TV

Metro transportation trend report shows biking bright spots, but also red flags for key goals – Bike Portland

Governor Justice announces over $8.3 million in Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails grants, benefitting dozens of communities across state – West Virginia Governor’s Office (Media release)


Nominations Sought for America’s Transportation Awards – AASHTO Journal

Enhancing Pedestrian Volume Estimation and Developing HCM Pedestrian Methodologies for Safe and Sustainable Communities – NCHRP

TRB Webinar: Implementing and Evaluating Wildlife Crossings – TRB


Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool Beta Version – Council on Environmental Quality (Request for information)

Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen SuitEPA (Notice; request for public comment)

Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic Names Tribal Consultation Geological Survey (Notice of tribal consultations)

Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic NamesGeological Survey (Notice with public comments)

Alaska Budget Contains Ice Road Maintenance Funds

The fiscal year 2023 state budget proposed by Governor Michael Dunleavy (R) contains maintenance funding for the Dick Nash Memorial ice road that will help tribal transportation departments maintain the frozen Kuskokwim for travel in the 2022/2023 winter season.

[Above photo by the Alaska DOT&PF]

By contrast, in 2021, contributions from community stakeholders covered half of the ice road’s maintenance costs. However, as heating oil delivery and diesel costs are now over $6 per gallon in the region – and the state is experiencing a funding surplus based in part on high oil prices – Governor Dunleavy said in a statement that he believes it is “only right” to provide community relief where possible.

That is why, in addition to the proposed funding in his FY 2023 budget, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities plans to recover any remaining maintenance costs via federal surface transportation funding during the 2022/2023 winter season, Gov. Dunleavy said.

The Kuskokwim ice road – which can stretch up to 300 miles long – serves 17 villages and helps Alaskan rural communities move goods and services during winter months. They are a safe alternative when poor weather prevents airplanes from flying, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and proved an efficient way to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

Alaska DOT&PF

Maintaining ice roads goes beyond plowing snow and placing reflectors. For example, the ice road crew serving the Village of Napaimute has developed a cell phone application to measure ice thickness. That application integrates ice-penetrating radar with traditional Native knowledge and local observations into an easy-to-access cell phone data format.

“I had the opportunity to travel the Kuskokwim Ice Road for the first time on a recent visit to the Villages of Napakiak and Napaskiak,” the governor said. “All those hundreds of miles of drivable ice are truly an Alaskan feat … and I heard from many residents about the importance of the road during the winter months for health, safety, commerce, and recreation. I’m glad we have identified funding to cover this expense from existing authorities.”

North Carolina Testing Light Pole EV Charging Technology

Governor Roy Cooper (D) recently toured PoleVolt – a new electric vehicle charging station in Charlotte created by a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Duke Energy, Centralina Regional Council and UNC Charlotte – that uses existing streetlights to provide free universal curbside charging for electric vehicles.

[Above photo via the North Carolina Governor’s Office]

PoleVolt – created through a partnership with the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center at UNC Charlotte, the City of Charlotte, the Centralina Regional Council, and Duke Energy – received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Lessons learned from this project about intentional planning and streamlined local government development review processes should help foster similar projects and help expand curbside EV charging infrastructure more broadly statewide.

The project is also in line with Executive Order No. 246 signed by the governor in January that directs the North Carolina Department of Transportation to work with public and private sectors to create a Clean Transportation Plan to guide the establishment of “a cleaner and more resilient” state transportation system.

The order also “underscores” the importance of emphasizing environmental justice and equity in the state’s transition to a clean economy, the governor said.

“The transition by vehicle manufacturers to electric vehicles is upon us and this station is just one example of how North Carolina is getting ready,” Gov. Cooper explained in a statement. “The quicker we move the more affordable electric vehicles will become for everyday people. Our state is moving toward an equitable clean energy economy and public-private partnerships like this one will help make that happen.”

To help foster the development and deployment of similar projects, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the National Association of State Energy Officials, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on February 23.

Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director, explained in a statement at the time that this MOU provides a “framework for collaboration” in response to the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program established by USDOT and DOE on February 10 to build and operate a nationwide network of EV charging stations.

ETAP Podcast: School Bus Electrification

In this episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Sue Gander (seen above)  – director of the electric school bus initiative for the World Resources Institute – talks about how funds from the $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA signed into law in November 2021 can help expand school bus electrification initiatives.

The ETAP podcast – a technical service program for state departments of transportation provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – explores a wide array of environmental topics that affect transportation and infrastructure programs.

WRI’s Gander explains in this episode of the ETAP podcast that 20 million children, or about half of all American public school students, ride on a school bus every day. Children from coast to coast board one of the country’s nearly 500,000 school buses each morning and ride to class while those vehicles consume diesel, gasoline, natural gas, or propane at an average rate of seven miles to the gallon.

She notes on the podcast that electrification presents a major opportunity to reduce if not eliminate such fuel consumption by school buses – and the $5 billion contained within the IIJA offers an opportunity to state departments of transportation and other state agencies to replace existing buses with electric models and build EV recharging infrastructure to support their operation.

To listen to this podcast, click here.

AASHTO’s CEE Hosting Virtual Peer Exchange

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Center for Environmental Excellence will host a virtual peer exchange discussing alternative project delivery and the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA process on March 8 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm eastern.

That exchange will feature representatives from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Utah sharing their experiences using alternative project delivery methods, such as public-private partnerships or P3s and design-build contracts.

The discussion will highlight best practices when using alternative delivery methods as well as discuss the experiences of those states navigating the NEPA process when using an alternative delivery method.

The exchange also includes a question and answer session once the state presentations conclude.

To register for this virtual peer exchange, click here.