Environmental News Highlights – March 31, 2021


Report Highlights How State DOTs Deliver the Benefits of Transportation – AASHTO Executive Director

Biden Harris Administration Reveals Infrastructure Priorities – AASHTO Journal

Republicans tell Buttigieg that Biden’s infrastructure bill should focus on roads, rail, ports – not climate or social justice – USA Today

Democrats offer priorities via stand-alone infrastructure bills – Roll Call

U.S. Oil Lobby Backs Carbon Fee as Substitute for Regulation – Bloomberg Green


COVID-19 & Transportation Funding in Illinois: One Year Later – Illinois Economic Policy Institute (Link to study pdf)


Caltrans: Rebuilt Section of Highway 1 Could ‘Last for Centuries’ – AASHTO Journal

Can the electrical grid handle a boom in electric vehicles? – Detroit Free Press

How to get started with measuring sustainability – Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Los Angeles now has a road map for 100% renewable energy – Los Angeles Times

Governors Rev Up Momentum on Infrastructure – National Governors Association (Press release)


Cargo bikes – The Future of Zero Emission Last-mile Deliveries – Air Quality News

Coalition Asks Biden Administration to Reduce Truck Emissions by Fall 2022 – Transport Topics

City sets lofty goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over next 30 years – KOLN-TV


Priority Shift: Great Lakes exec moves environmental justice to top of list – Great Lakes Now

Environmental Justice: Evaluating Zip Codes And Pollution Burdens – Science Friday

Lawmakers seek pause on plans to overhaul Massachusetts transportation system that provides rides to low-income and disabled residents – State House News Service


With Emphasis on Climate Change, St. Lawrence Seaway Opens for 63rd Season – Spectrum News

What’s that noise? ‘Sound cannons’ used to scare off birds near Santa Maria strawberry farms – KSBY-TV

Connecticut begins food waste recycling push to help solve waste disposal crisis – Hartford Courant

Thousands of acres must be restored to save declining species of birds on Lake Erie – Columbus Dispatch

The nation’s water infrastructure cannot be graded on a sliding scale – Penn Live/Patriot-News (Opinion)


‘When Seattle Shakes’ online exhibition explores historical preservation and seismic risks – Seattle Times


Lawmakers Consider Update For Oregon’s Groundbreaking Bike Bill – Oregon Public Broadcasting

City officials attempting to ‘calm’ traffic down for pedestrians, bicyclists – Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Disabled Clark County residents join statewide demand for more sidewalks – Clark County Today


An Update on Public Transportation’s Impacts on Greenhouse Gas Emissions – TCRP

New Biennial Review Says Stronger Science Support Needed as Everglades Restoration Pivots from Planning to Operations – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (Press release)


Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions on Proposed Highway in Idaho – FHWA (Notice of limitation on claims for judicial review of actions by FHWA)

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Little Manatee River, Ruskin, Hillsborough County Coast Guard (Final rule)

Seaway Regulations and Rules – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (Final rule)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study, Charleston County, South Carolina U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)

South Carolina: Final Approval of State Underground Storage Tank Program Revisions, Codification, and Incorporation by Reference – EPA (Direct final rule)

Brownfields Stakeholder Discussion and Listening Session With Nonprofit Organizations and Community Foundations – EPA (Notice)

Air Plan Approval; Maine; Removal of Reliance on Reformulated Gasoline in the Southern Counties of Maine – EPA (Proposed rule)

Approval and Promulgation of State Plans for Designated Facilities and Pollutants; North Dakota; Control of Emissions From Existing Municipal Solid Waste Landfills; Control of Emissions From Existing Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Unit – EPA (Proposed rule)

Drawbridge Operation Regulation; New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, Point Pleasant, NJ – Coast Guard (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Request for Extension of TimeFederal Energy Regulatory Commission (Notice)

Review and Approval of Projects – Susquehanna River Basin Commission (Notice of proposed rulemaking; notice of public hearing)

States Finding Ways to Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities

While a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed pedestrian fatalities trended up in the first half of 2020, the report also noted how several state-directed efforts are successfully improving pedestrian safety.

[Photo by North Carolina DOT.]

GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report found that the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate increased 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 as speeding, distracted, and impaired driving – as well as other dangerous driving behaviors – increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The analysis found that from January through June 2020, motor vehicle crashes killed 2,957 pedestrians – six more than the same period in 2019. Consequently, as vehicle miles traveled or VMT declined 16.5 percent nationwide during the same period in 2020, the rate of drivers striking and killing pedestrians jumped to 2.2 deaths per billion VMT — a significant increase from 1.8 deaths in 2019. 

GHSA’s report also identified significant improvements within its analysis of state-reported data:  

  • Pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2020 declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. compared with the same period in 2019.  
  • Nine states – Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – witnessed double-digit percentage and numeric declines in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019. 
  • Based on analysis of 2017-2020 data, Arizona has experienced two consecutive years of declining pedestrian fatalities, while Delaware and Kentucky have experienced three consecutive years of declining pedestrian deaths.  

GHSA’s report noted that most pedestrians are killed on local roads, in the dark, and away from intersections – suggesting the need for safer road crossings and increased efforts to make pedestrians more visible through improved lighting and other countermeasures.  

In addition, during the past 10 years, the number of drivers striking and killing a pedestrian after dark increased by 54 percent, compared to a 16 percent rise in pedestrian fatalities in daylight, GHSA said. 

The group’s report further noted that alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian occurred in nearly half of traffic crashes that resulted in a pedestrian fatality. 

[Editor’s note: In a recent ‘On Time with Tymon’ video series, Jim Tymon – executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – discussed why motor vehicle crashes increased during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the overall reduction in VMT.] 

The report highlighted proven strategies employed at the state and local level to reduce pedestrian fatalities – including engineering and road design, high visibility and automated enforcement, pedestrian safety assessments and road safety audits, and education directed to children and crash bystanders. Some examples include: 

  • North Carolina’s “Watch for Me NC” program and New Jersey’s “Street Smart,” aim to reduce pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths through a comprehensive, targeted approach of public education, community engagement, and high visibility law enforcement. Evaluations of both programs indicate they have been effective in changing motorist and pedestrian behavior.
  • The Georgia Office of Highway Safety is awarding grants to implement education programs in cities with significant increases in pedestrian fatalities and where walking is the primary mode of transportation – one of a number of educational strategies identified in the state’s five-year multidisciplinary Pedestrian Safety Action Plan designed to work in consort with engineering, enforcement, and emergency strategies.  
  • The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning’s statewide campaign, “Everybody’s Road, Everybody’s Rules,” involves 12 law enforcement agencies in 12 cities to educate and engage with motorists and pedestrians. They focused on motorists making illegal turns, failing to stop at a signal or crosswalk, and not yielding to pedestrians, and spoke with pedestrians about using sidewalks where provided or walking against traffic on a roadway without a sidewalk. 
  • Delaware Highway Safety Office programs such as summer beach pedestrian high visibility enforcement and education mobilization; updated pedestrian information via its “Arrive Alive DE” website; conducting pedestrian safety outreach via Delaware Rapid Transit bus “street teams” along high crash routes, and developing “visibility messaging” to address nighttime pedestrian fatalities.

The Ray Signs Charters to Pilot ‘Green’ Initiatives in Central Texas

The Ray – a Georgia-based transportation innovation non-profit – recently signed separate charters with the Texas Department of Transportation Austin District, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, and the City of Austin to pilot new technologies and “green energy solutions” for the Central Texas region. 

[Above photo via The Ray.] 

“Central Texas is a dynamic growing community with a tech-based economy and a highly educated workforce,” explained Tucker Ferguson, district engineer for TxDOT’s Austin District, in a statement.  

“The community expects government entities like TxDOT, the City of Austin, and the Mobility Authority to use new technology and innovative strategies to enhance mobility, protect the environment, improve quality of life and increase economic opportunity,” he added. “The partnership with The Ray is a great opportunity to bring additional expertise and experience to our work.” 

In Georgia, The Ray has partnered with state and industry leaders to create the world’s first sustainable highway living laboratory, and we are excited to bring our experience in transportation innovation to Central Texas,” noted Laura Rogers, director of strategic partnerships at The Ray.  

[Editor’s note: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Center for Environmental Excellence recently interviewed Allie Kelly, executive director of The Ray, as part of its Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast series. Click here to listen to that interview.] 

“Focusing on infrastructure that supports future-forward transportation technology through regional collaboration allows for a seamless transition of service across jurisdictions and provides a model to scale similar initiatives across the state and nation,” she said. 

Rogers noted this new Central Texas region collaboration is focusing on “facilitating, executing, promoting and building” projects that prioritize road safety, improve infrastructure resiliency, plus protect and restore the environment.  

Those projects include but are not limited to connected autonomous vehicle infrastructure, solar-powered photovoltaic electric-vehicle or EV charging stations, and in-road dynamic wireless EV charging, she said. 

The Ray’s 501c3 nonprofit status will open additional opportunities to collaborate between the public and private sectors by acting as a bridge to accelerate project delivery while leveraging “innovative funding mechanisms,” explained Harriet Langford, president and founder of The Ray.  

By working with the various tech companies moving to Austin and those that already call Austin home, this new collaboration will bring industries together to create better results that directly benefit the citizens of Texas through job creation, resilient roads, and cleaner air, she said. 

“Much like my father Ray C. Anderson shared his model for circular business with companies around the world, The Ray is ready to scale our record of transportation innovation with states across the country,” Langford noted. “Georgia and Texas are both states with an independent streak, and together with all three agencies, The Ray will expand on our projects to create smarter and safer transportation infrastructure for Texans.”