Environmental News Highlights – March 9, 2022


FHWA Submits ‘Complete Streets’ Report to Congress – AASHTO Journal

City Leaders Back Biden in Controversy Over Infrastructure Spending – Route Fifty

High Court Hears Consolidated Clean Air Cases – Engineering News-Record

EPA tosses Trump-era review process for science advisers – E&E News

Buttigieg Defends Infrastructure Law’s Implementation Before US Senate Panel – Transport Topics


US Travel Association, industry groups urge US Government to relax COVID-19 measures for travel – Centre for Aviation

15 Cities With the Biggest Improvement in Air Quality During COVID-19 – MSN

As workers make fewer office trips, commuter rail systems struggle to fill empty seats – Washington Post


MARAD Providing $25M in Marine Highway Grants – AASHTO Journal

Louisiana among states opposing ban on LNG rail transport – Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

How Minnesotans Are Creating Infrastructure With Climate Change In Mind – WCCO-TV

Utah railway meets opposition from Colorado over environmental concerns – AP


School Bus Electrification With Sue Gander – AASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

Colorado’s clean truck strategy favors incentives now, regulations later – Colorado Public Radio

Advocates concerned air quality will get worse in Utah – KTVX-TV

Biden administration moves to cut smog-forming pollution from heavy trucksThe Washington Post


Oregon lawmakers consider environmental justice bill – Oregon Public Broadcasting

Agriculture and environmental justice take priority in California’s climate plan – Agri-Pulse


Alaska Budget Contains Ice Road Maintenance Funds – AASHTO Journal

First, Do No Harm: When endangered species habitats lie in a roadway’s path. – Thinking Transportation (Podcast)

Poor weather conditions present in more than 10% of nation’s fatal crashes in 2020 – WTTG-TV

Effects of noise on marine life – ScienceDaily

America is finally cleaning up its abandoned, leaking oil wells – France24


Sacramento looks to make Capitol Mall more pedestrian, cyclist friendly – KTXL-TV

Law protecting cyclists, pedestrians goes into effect in New Jersey – WCBS-TV

Raising Crosswalks to Make Deadly Intersections Safer in New York – New York Times

The Radical Roots of Bikesharing – CityLab

To Reduce Traffic Congestion, Increase Local Micromobility – Governing


TRB Webinar: Emerging Issues in Priced Managed Lane Networks – TRB

IBTTA Releases New Report on Lessons Learned For Emergency Management During Significant Events That Disrupt Operations – IBTTA (Link to PDF)


FY 2022 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant Program and the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program – FTA (Notice of Funding Opportunity)

Approval of State Underground Storage Tank Program Revisions; Hawaii – EPA (Notification of final determination on the State of Hawaii’s application for final approval)

Membership in the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group – FAA (Solicitation of applications)

COVID – 19 Related Relief Concerning International Operations at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, New York LaGuardia Airport, Ronald Reagan – FAA (Notice of proposed extension of a limited, conditional waiver of the minimum slot usage requirement for international operations only)

Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council; Public Teleconference/Web MeetingFish and Wildlife Service (Notice)

Draft Revised Management Plan for the Chesapeake Bay Virginia National Estuarine Research Reserve – NOAA (Request for comments)

Evaluation of National Estuarine Research Reserve; Public Meeting; Request for Comments – NOAA (Notice)

Badger State Solar, LLC; Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public MeetingRural Utilities Service (Notice)

Recertification of Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory CouncilCoast Guard (Notice)

Colorado DOT Helps Craft Clean Truck Strategy

The Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Energy Office, and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment recently unveiled the daft of a “Clean Truck Strategy” that seeks to lower greenhouse gas or GHG emissions from heavy- and medium-duty vehicles by at least 45 percent statewide by 2050.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

That strategy is part of a package of initiatives undertaken by Governor Jared Polis (D) to improve air quality and reduce emissions while saving money for citizens and small businesses.

The Colorado DOT noted in a statement that heavy- and medium-duty vehicles include semi-trucks, school buses, snowplows, delivery vans, large pick-up trucks, and many different vehicle types in between. The agency added that they are the second-largest source of GHG emissions in the state’s transportation sector, contributing 22 percent of on-road GHG emissions despite being less than 10 percent of all Colorado vehicles.

This new multi-agency strategy seeks to accelerate clean truck adoption to help fight climate change, improve air quality, and help communities “disproportionately impacted” by transportation pollution emissions, Colorado DOT said.

[Editor’s note: At the national level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new clean air standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in model year 2027. The proposed standards would reduce emissions of smog- and soot-forming nitrogen oxides or NOx from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines while updating GHG standards for select commercial vehicle categories. Overall, the EOA expects its proposed rule to reduce NOx emissions from trucks by as much as 60 percent by 2045.]

The strategy also predicts that owners of medium- and heavy-duty trucks – most of whom are small businesses – could save an estimated $5.8 billion by 2050 from reduced vehicle maintenance costs and fuel cost savings by switching to zero-emission vehicles, the agency noted.

The multi-agency Clean Truck Strategy also includes a “prioritized set” of 34 actions that state agencies will implement to support the transition to zero-emission heavy- and medium-duty vehicles across seven different categories of initiatives, including procurement policies and programs, vehicle incentives and financing, infrastructure planning and investments, utility strategies, workforce development, and regulatory actions.

The plan also relies in part on proposals with the governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget plan, including a new electric school bus incentive program and a clean truck replacement program, alongside new federal funding opportunities to build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

As part of this multi-agency clean truck draft, the Colorado DOT said Gov. Polis’ administration is expected by the end of 2022 to submit a request to set a hearing to the state Air Quality Control Commission to consider adopting rules to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles and to further support the transition to zero-emission trucks and buses.

Minnesota DOT Works to ‘Rejuvenate’ Live Snow Fences

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to “rejuvenate” seven so-called “living snow fences” in southwest Minnesota as part of a month-long effort to ensure the 20-year-old plantings can survive for another two decades.

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT]

The agency noted that a “living snow fence” is comprised of trees, shrubs, native grasses, and/or wildflowers to trap snow as it blows across fields, piling it up before it reaches a bridge or roadway.

“Rejuvenation” work includes pruning healthy trees while removing and replacing any dead trees and shrubs. The agency noted it schedules such work on living snow fences between March and April specifically to reduce interference with the state’s bat and bird populations.

“A living snow fence is more than landscaping and highway beautification, it serves a purpose,” explained Dan Gullickson, Minnesota DOT’s blowing snow control shared services program supervisor, in a statement.

“We use nature to control blowing snow and rejuvenating these living snow fence sites will safeguard the health and vitality of the plantings,” he added.

The Minnesota DOT said living snow fences offer multiple infrastructure benefits, including:

  • Prevent the formation of large snowdrifts and icing on roads.
  • Improve motorist visibility by reducing whiteout conditions due to blowing snow.
  • Control soil erosion and reduce spring flooding.
  • Lessen environmental impact by reducing the need to use salt on the roads during winter.

KYTC Prepares to do Battle with ‘Noxious Weeds’

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is gearing up to control the growth of noxious and nuisance weeds along roadsides throughout the state starting in April.

[Above photo by the KYTC]

KYTC is targeting targets 11 noxious weeds with this effort: Johnson grass, giant foxtail, Canada thistle, nodding thistle, common teasel, multiflora rose, Amur honeysuckle, poison hemlock, marestail, Japanese knotweed, and kudzu.

KYTC added that local property owners may file a request that highway crews treat select nuisance weeds found on adjacent state-owned rights of way as well. To request weed treatment request submit a written application to the local KYTC highway district office, the agency added.

“Weeds are more than a nuisance-they pose safety concerns,” explained KYTC Secretary Jim Gray in a statement.

“Actively treating the weeds on state-maintained property enhances driver visibility near roadways, prevents damage to ditches and drains, and minimizes the presence of plants that attract deer near highways,” he said.

Noxious weeds often invade and destroy the roadside turf grass, leaving those areas vulnerable to erosion, KYTC added. They can also smother native plants through rapid reproduction and long-term persistence.

Twenty years ago, the Federal Highway Administration published a compendium of resources aimed at removing invasive species of plants that might take root along roadways nationwide. They can cause “significant changes” to local ecosystems, upsetting ecological balances and causing economic harm to the country’s agricultural and recreational sectors.

Workshop: Grid Integration of EV Charging Infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula program guidance, which tasks states to develop plans for electric charging infrastructure deployment along major highway corridors.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]

To help states develop such plans, the GridWise Alliance, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners are hosting a workshop to explore electric grid considerations related to EV infrastructure investment under NEVI.

Held March 14 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm eastern, the workshop will feature:

  • Highlights from the GridWise Alliance paper ‘Near-Term Grid Investments for Integrating Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.’
  • Industry insights on innovative technology solutions.  
  • Utility perspectives on EV charging infrastructure deployment.
  • State perspectives on grid-EV challenges.
  • A group discussion period regarding which utility and technology firms provide the best support to states as they develop EV charging network investment plans.

To register for this workshop, click here.