Oklahoma DOT Crafting First-Ever Active Transportation Plan

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working on its first-ever active transportation plan – a policy toolkit that can be used internally and by Oklahoma counties and towns as engineers and designers look to develop more people-friendly infrastructure.

[Above image by the Oklahoma DOT]

The plan will address walking, biking, “wheelchairs and mobility scooters, pedal and electric scooters, electric bikes, skateboards, and other similar wheeled vehicles,” according to a website developed by the agency that details the plan’s contents.

The finished product will be more of a policy guide than a rule book, said Shelby Templin, an Oklahoma DOT certified planner who is heading up the plan’s development.

“We’re hoping this will guide our engineers and designers, in-house, as well as provide a starting-off point for smaller communities that may not have the resources,” she said. “It also will give the multi-modal group more of a leg to stand on for project development.”

The agency said its Active Transportation Plan is expected to be completed this summer and opened to a 30-day public comment period. In the fall, Oklahoma DOT expects to submit the plan to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission for approval.

Right now, an Oklahoma DOT consultant is analyzing about 1,000 citizen surveys and results from 10 online workshops, alongside the development of “scenario planning” sessions by the agency – sessions that examine situations involving active transportation in order to determine which infrastructure tools work best.

The rise in pedestrian deaths across the country is also giving some added urgency to developing the plan, Templin pointed out. “We basically create intersections or hot spots where, theoretically, we’d be having an issue with crashes or a high number of pedestrians,” she explained.

The department also is researching and reviewing best practices from other states that already have Active Transportation Plans, as Oklahoma DOT is one of a handful of state departments of transportation that do not have such a plan, Templin said.

[Editor’s note: The Washington State Department of Transportation unveiled a formal Active Transportation Plan in December 2021 – which won the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards contest’s “People’s Choice Award” – with the Kansas Department of Transportation developing one in December 2020 and the Ohio Department of Transportation launching one in July 2019.]

The Active Transportation Plan development process, which kicked off in the fall of 2022, might not have happened except for an assumption Oklahoma DOT made about what would be in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.

“We thought that all states would have to have an Active Transportation Plan, so the conversation here was already starting,” Templin said. When the IIJA did not include an Active Transportation Plan mandate, “we were already planning for it, so we decided to do it now because we didn’t want to have our hand forced into it.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the transportation habits of state residents became another “deciding factor” in the development of an active mobility strategy, she noted. The pandemic “shifted people’s minds to realize that not everyone has to drive a car,” said Templin. “There are other options.”

Like every state, Oklahoma has its own transportation issues that don’t fit neatly in a one-size-fits-all template, so those situations must be incorporated into the plan.

“I think in Oklahoma, it’s pretty common to live a longer distance from where people work,” Templin said. “So, it’s not always going to be about commuting – you look for more realistic opportunities. I live 35 miles from work, so I’ll never walk or bike to work, but I live a half-mile from a 7-11.”

Sacramento Kings, Caltrans Work on Local Waterway Cleanup

The Sacramento Kings basketball team, the California Department of Transportation, and more than 35 volunteers recently joined forces to collect and remove litter from Robert T. Matsui Park along the Sacramento River.

[Above photo by Caltrans]

In a statement, Caltrans Director Tony Tavares explained that this cleanup event highlighted how trash and debris pollute Sacramento waterways, including through storm water flows. The event collected and removed more than 500 pounds of trash from the park, which included things such as broken glass, cigarettes, plastic bottles, and cans, he said.

“Sacramento is known as the River City, and residents and tourists love to visit and enjoy our rivers,” Tavares pointed out. “But these fragile waterways and public spaces need to be protected, so everyone needs to work together to keep our waters clean and litter-free.”

Caltrans noted that recent storms put a spotlight on the threat of storm water pollution in the Sacramento region and statewide as well. The agency said storm water can pick up a variety of pollutants, including trash, litter, and bacteria, flushing it down storm drains that flow to local lakes, rivers and streams.

State departments of transportation across the country are engaged in a variety of efforts to not only remove litter from waterways but manage storm water flows as well.

For example, in September 2022, the Tennessee Department of Transportation began expanding upon its traditional role in the Mississippi River Delta Region from building and maintaining roads to include fighting litter, supporting tourism, and promoting economic development.

The agency is doing so through the Tennessee Delta Alliance or TDA, a partnership between Tennessee DOT and the University of Memphis.

That alliance also established a regional, water-based Keep America Beautiful affiliate along Tennessee’s portion of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

Additionally, in March 2022, Tennessee DOT teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed. In related move, in April 2021, the agency provided the Tennessee Aquarium grants to establish two new exhibits illustrating how microplastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.

Environmental News Highlights – March 15, 2023

A roundup of headlines curated for state transportation environmental professionals


USDOT Makes Marine Highway Grant Funding Available

– AASHTO Journal

Engaging State DOTs with Non-Traditional Partners More Effectively

– AASHTO Journal

People Are Driving Less. What Could That Mean for Future Infrastructure?

– For Construction Pros

FHWA declines to set truck standards in EV charging rule

– FreightWaves

Awash in Asphalt, Cities Rethink Their Parking Needs

– New York Times


Building a Statewide Charging Network: Q&A With Officials From The Volunteer State

– Forbes

Failing to plan for climate change is planning to fail

– Washington State Governor’s Office

Can the infrastructure handle an influx of electrical vehicles?

KCAL-TV (video)

Innovation Will Follow the National EV Network, but Not Overnight

– Government Technology

The real-world barriers to electric vehicle infrastructure

– The Hill (Opinion)


Understanding the State DOT Role in Fostering Transportation De-carbonization

– AASHTO Journal

Revealed: the 10 worst places to live in US for air pollution

– The Guardian

FAA won’t let Palo Alto crack down on leaded fuel or noise at airport

– Daily Post

Cleaner transportation fuels – a key to energy transition

– Santa Fe New Mexican (opinion)


‘Toll equity’: WA government wants to know if toll lanes benefit the wealthy

– The Center Square

Pete Buttigieg: “Every Form of Transportation Could Be Made Easier For Families”

– Fatherly

The EPA’s soot pollution update falls dangerously short for Latinos

– The Hill (opinion)


NJDEP sets goal to ‘prescribe burn’ 25,000 acres of state forest

– Sun Newspapers

Environmentalists object to bills they say undercut development, conservation goals

– News Service of Florida

From farmland to wetland: Millions of acres in North Carolina spring back to life

– WBUR Radio

Too much polluted agricultural water threatens Everglades’ engineered wetlands, study says

– WMFE Radio


A San Antonian’s map of the city’s bicycle network takes a transit-oriented approach

– San Antonio Report

The importance of historic preservation in Phoenix

– AZ Big Media

Wisconsin promotes agricultural tourism in roadside campaign


Sporting Groups Promote Wildlife Crossing Fund in Nevada Assembly

– Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership


Richardson, TX City Council approves active transportation, parks master plans

– Richardson Community Impact

E-Trikes Are Coming to Rescue the Aging Suburbs

– CityLab

Dynamic curbs could make cities more livable but would require getting more people out of cars, experts say

– Smart Cities Dive

Believe it or not, the Amish are loving electric bikes

– Electrek

UNM selected for new Center for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety

– University of New Mexico (media release)


Telework Transportation Research in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic


A Smarter Look at Traffic Congestion: NYU Tandon’s C2SMART Secures $15 Million Center With Funding From U.S. Department of Transportation

– New York University (media release)


Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards; Correction

– EPA (Final rule; correction)

Adequacy Status of Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for the New Jersey Portion of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT, 2008 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area

– EPA (Notice)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Public Meeting

– EPA (Notice)

Public Meeting of the Science Advisory Board Environmental Justice Screen Panel

– EPA (Notice)

Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; California; Coachella Valley Ozone Nonattainment Area; Reclassification to Extreme

– EPA (Final rule)

Railroad Safety Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting

– FRA (Notice)

Request for Public Input About Implementation of the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds
Initiative and the National Water Quality Initiative

– Natural Resources Conservation Service (RFI)

Consolidated Port Approaches Port Access Route Studies

– Coast Guard (Notice of availability)

Withdrawal of Notice of Intent (NOI) To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Pursuant to Section 203 of Water Resources Development Act of 1986 for the Wilmington Harbor Navigation Improvement Project Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Report, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, NC

– Army Corps of Engineers (Notice of intent; withdrawal)