Environmental News Highlights – April 20, 2022


White House, USDOT Tout Rural Infrastructure Funding – AASHTO Journal

Federal EV charging networks: $5B over 5 years, now states have to submit plans – Green Car Reports

The pandemic drove a sharp dip in greenhouse gas emissions, EPA says – The Hill

Biden waiving ethanol rule in bid to lower gasoline prices – AP

Why Recent Announcements By The White House Around Indoor Air Quality Matter – Forbes


When mask mandates end, advocate asks NJ Transit to have a face covering only car – NJ.com

How Did Public Transportation Affect COVID’s Spread? – Futurity

A very American road rage shooting crisis – NBC News THINK


Louisiana DOTD Hosts Outdoor Electric Vehicle Expo – AASHTO Journal

‘Investment in the future:’ NC Looks to electric transportation – WNCN-TV

Indiana to spend $100 million on electric vehicle charging stations – The Center Square

Maine DOT gets citizen help planning wind power port – WCSH-TV

Planning and the Complicated Causes and Effects of Congestion – Planetizen


Port of San Diego Welcomes Electric Freight Trucks as it Works Towards Zero-Emission Technology – KNSD-TV

Green infrastructure helps cities with climate change. So why isn’t there more of it? – NPR

With new funding, Washington State Ferries ramps up electric ferry plans – KING-TV

California Proposes 68 Percent Zero-Emission Vehicle Sales By 2030 – Motor1.com

Metrolink becomes first U.S. passenger-rail agency to run on renewable fuel – Progressive Railroading


Transportation Vote in Georgia Focuses on Neighborhoods, Equity – Flagpole


A Lake in Florida Suing to Protect Itself – The New Yorker

Herbicide spraying to begin along roadsides – Watertown Daily Times

EPA Announces Plan to Protect Endangered Species and Support Sustainable Agriculture EPA (Media release)


How a Forgotten Bit of Infrastructure Became a Symbol of Civic Pride – The New Yorker

Why American License Plates Are Such A Mess – Cheddar (Video)

Saving the Legacy of Pittsburgh’s City Steps – Governing

Improvements coming to Jackson’s MLK Equality Trail – WSYM-TV


Bird pilot aims to give NYC wheelchair users reliable and fast transport options – Smart Cities Dive

Albany, Georgia commissioners to apply for federal grant for Rails to Trails – WALB -TV


Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Standards Development for Bus Exportable Power Systems (BEPS)FTA (Notice of funding opportunity)

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public Meeting – EPA (Notification for a public meeting)

Charter Renewal of the Regional Resource Stewardship CouncilTennessee Valley Authority (Notice)

Public Meeting of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work GroupBureau of Reclamation (Notice of public meeting)

Noise Exposure Map Notice: Receipt of Noise Compatibility Program and Request for ReviewFAA (Notice)

Permanent Closure of the Public-Use of East Hampton Airport – FAA (Notice)

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to BNSF Railway Bridge Heavy Maintenance Project in King County, Washington – NOAA (Notice; issuance of two incidental harassment authorization)

NCDOT Program Seeks to Reduce Wildlife-Aircraft Strikes

A mitigation program operated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation aims to reduce the risk of wildlife hazards by providing a variety of training and support options for both airports and aircraft.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

The agency said North Carolina airports average at least one bird or other wildlife strikes upon aircraft per day, which can cause significant damage. For example, in 2018, an aircraft landing at a general aviation airport sustained more than $800,000 in damage when it struck two of six white-tailed deer crossing the runway. On top of that, the Federal Aviation Administration Wildlife Strike Database​ – which tracks wildlife strikes – estimates that only one in five strikes are reported, which adds up to a significant threat to property and life.

“Flocks of birds taking flight, deer crossing runways, and other such hazards can cause serious damage to property and even loss of life,” noted Rajendra Kondapalli, the program’s manager, in a statement. “Our program focuses on reducing that risk and increasing safety for aircraft that fly in and out of airports across our state.”

The wildlife program, offered through a cooperative agreement with the Wildlife Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides five regional trainings and assessments of one-third of the state’s 72 public airports each year. It also provides “quick-response” management activities for airports experiencing wildlife hazards. 

That “quick response” program provides both proactive and reactive management, NCDOT said, such as harassing geese, gulls, raptors, and other birds using pyrotechnics, habitat management, and, if warranted, lethal control. The USDA may live trap and relocate hazardous raptors such as hawks and falcons to suitable habitats miles away from the airport.   

Trainings provide instruction and hands-on practice in identifying common animal species, potential habitats, and food sources that attract animals to airports and methods to deter wildlife using safe methods from interfering with airport operations.

The wildlife management assessments offered through the program include an airport site visit to conduct a bird and mammal hazard survey and an assessment report with wildlife observations, habitat attractants, and mitigation recommendations based on USDA’s observations. This can range from proper grass height, tree removal, proper fencing, and agriculture near the airfield. “These trainings are very important because they help the airports better understand the hazards on their airfields and what they can do to mitigate them, short-term and long-term,” noted Chris Willis, western district supervisor for the USDA Wildlife Services in North Carolina, who provides the training. “It also helps the aviation [divisions] understand the needs the airport may have or what hazards exist.”

‘Biomonitors’ Help Arizona DOT Protect Endangered Species

The Arizona Department of Transportation recently illustrated in a blog post how ‘biomonitor’ teams from Northern Arizona University or NAU help the agency’s crews find and relocate endangered species – including snakes, birds, and fish – from construction sites.

[Above photo by the Arizona DOT]

Specifically, the biomonitor teams train construction workers and others involved in transportation projects to identify any endangered species and what to do if they come across one. The teams also monitor construction activity and help safely remove any endangered species out of harm’s way. 

For example, for an Arizona DOT project to protect the I-17 Verde River Bridge footings – set to wrap up later this spring – agency crews built earthen bypass channels to contain river flow, allowing them to work outside of the river area safely. Simultaneously, the biomonitor team removed all fish from pools that required filling in, while also rescuing fish stranded during river relocation work.

Next, the biomonitor team identifies the endangered species it finds, photographing and measuring them, and then releases them back into the Verde River downstream from the construction area.

“The relocation distance varies, but it’s typically about 50 to 150 yards from the capture point,” noted Dr. Erika Nowak, an assistant research professor at NAU, who heads up the biomonitor team for the I-17 Verde River Bridge project.

“We don’t want to release the animals too far away, as moving them out of their home range can disrupt their behavior, cause them to become disoriented, and thus more likely to die,” she added.

This is one of several efforts by Arizona DOT to preserve both animals and plants considered endangered species.

The agency recently completed a bridge replacement project near Globe, AZ, which triggered the return of an endangered species of cactus transplanted and preserved by the agency during the project’s four-year timeline.

The U.S. 60 Pinto Creek Bridge is home to the endangered hedgehog cactus, which grows only within a several-mile radius of the site. About a foot high, usually covered in spines and often with red flowers at the top, the species is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is protected under Arizona law. When the bridge replacement project began in 2018, a team comprised of biologists from the Arizona DOT and from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix safely removed 34 cacti potentially affected by the construction work, then nurtured and propagated, replanting 61 total cacti in early March.