FHWA Issues $148M to Reduce Port Air Pollution

The Federal Highway Administration recently issued $148 million in grants to 16 port projects in 11 states and Puerto Rico via the first round of a new $400 million program aimed at improving air quality and reducing pollution in port communities.

[Above photo by Maryland Ports Administration]

The FHWA said its new Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities grant program – created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – provides funding for port electrification and efficiency improvements as part of a broader effort to reduce pollution from idling commercial trucks at port facilities.

“The projects funded under this program will improve the quality of life for workers and families impacted by pollution from idling trucks while building a clean-energy economy that combats climate change and makes our communities more resilient,” noted Shailen Bhatt, FHWA administrator, in a statement. “[This funding] will make a real difference for people who live and work near ports.”

[Editor’s note: In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made $3 billion in grants available through its new Clean Ports Program – established by the Inflation Reduction Act enacted in July 2022 – to help fund the acquisition of zero-emission equipment, build infrastructure, and improve air quality at U.S. ports.]

The agency noted that specific truck emission reductions planned for implementation with this funding include replacing diesel-powered trucks serving ports with zero or low emissions electric or alternative fuel-powered trucks; constructing electric vehicle charging infrastructure; employing port roadway access improvements; and studying technology enhancements to reduce truck emissions.

Two projects overseen by state departments of transportation received grants during this round of FHWA port facilities funding. They are:

  • The Hawaii Department of Transportation will receive $5.2 million to modernize port gates and automate improvements at the Sand Island Terminal in Honolulu Harbor. The improvements seek to reduce truck processing times, queueing delays, cut port-related emissions from idling trucks, and make port operations more efficient.
  • The Maryland Port Administration – a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation – will receive $642,000 to replace one diesel-powered street sweeper with one zero-emission unit to be used at the Port of Baltimore for moving cars and light trucks. Funding also will be used to research and develop the adoption of electric Power Take Off (ePTO) devices on trucks that average two hours of engine idling per trip while loading or unloading. Wider adoption of ePTOs could significantly reduce truck idling and emissions at ports, the agency noted in its grant request.

Meanwhile, as part of a broader information gathering effort regarding U.S. ports, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration – known as MARAD – and the American Association of Port Authorities are currently conducting a survey of port authorities and marine terminal operators across the country that aims to identify the nation’s port cargo handling needs over the next five to 10 years.

Led by AAPA through a cooperative agreement with MARAD, the “Building American Production Capacity for Electric Port Equipment and Other Port Infrastructure Items” information collection effort is scheduled to be completed this spring – with a final report issued in summer of 2024.

Michigan DOT Podcast Talks Benefits of Trails

The latest “Talking Michigan Transportation” podcast – produced by the Michigan Department of Transportation – interviewed Julie Clark, chief executive officer for the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation or TART Trails advocacy group to discuss how trail networks can enhance quality of life for residents while also providing an economic boost.

[Above image via Michigan DOT]
The economic value of trail networks comes from the key role they play in outdoor recreation, Clark said. For example, in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released statistics estimating that outdoor recreation accounted for $862 billion in economic output or consumer spending), 1.9 percent or $454 billion of gross domestic product, and supported 4.5 million jobs. 

In Michigan, outdoor recreation in 2021 contributed $10.8 billion to the state economy, according to that agency’s numbers, as well as support for 109,000 jobs and $5 billion in wages.

“Our vision is ‘every house a trailhead,’ meaning we want people to be able to leave their home and access a trail,” Clark noted. “Getting out on the trails doesn’t mean there’s a trail up to your door, but the facilities – whether you’re rural or in a town – should be nearby and you should feel very comfortable and safe using them. That is where we come in, working with [local] road commissions and state DOTs.”

She also emphasized that trails help increase property values and help reinvigorate neighborhoods –key economic development benefits for communities.

“They also provide, as COVID [the COVID-19 pandemic] pointed out, some really important opportunities for physical and mental health, and that I think has become so important to folks all around our region and, I think, around the state,” Clark noted.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.

There has been an ongoing push over the last several years to increase trail networks across the country.

For example, in January 2023, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy or RTC recently launched a national effort aimed at creating a “new community” where public leaders, advocates, and transportation professionals can come together to advance the development of trails and other active-transportation networks across the country.

Dubbed the TrailNation Collaborative, this new “community effort” seeks to fill what RTC describes as an “unmet need” for peer learning and collective action in order to leverage funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA to create a connected systems of trails, sidewalks, and protected bike lanes in every community in America.

State departments of transportation around the country are also spearheading their own trail expansion efforts.

For example, the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Lamoille Valley Rail Trail project – the winner of the 2023 America’s Transportations Awards People’s Choice Award – is a 93-mile multi-modal recreational path in northern Vermont, connecting 18 town centers and linking to other trails in Vermont and Canada.

This project is open year-round for various activities, including walking, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, preserving Vermont’s natural landscape.

In November 2023, the Texas Transportation Commission approved over $345 million for new sidewalks, bikeways, and other types of active transportation infrastructure projects statewide.

The funding will go towards 83 projects designed to improve bicycle and pedestrian access while providing safety enhancements and mobility options to schools, jobs, public transit systems, and local destinations, the commission said.

The Texas Department of Transportation noted that some the projects approved by the commission include sidewalks connecting to schools and transit options, shared-use paths benefiting both pedestrians and cyclists, new pedestrian bridges, and 15 planning studies.

In July 2022, a team of Utah State University researchers recently explored how to use the state’s network of historic canal trails as an active transportation solution. That study is poised to help the Utah Department of Transportation and community leaders make decisions about building canal paths and trails.

The Utah DOT funded the university’s research project – entitled “Active Transportation Facilities in Canal Corridors” – that the American Society of Civil Engineers subsequently published in June 2022.

Environmental News Highlights – May 1, 2024


How Abrupt U-Turns Are Defining U.S. Environmental Regulations -New York Times

President Advances Plan to Make Freight Shipping Carbon-Free -Transport Topics

What’s New in the 11th Edition of the MUTCD with Kathy Falk, Vice President, Kimley-Horn -ITE Talks Transportation (podcast)

BTS Updates National Transportation Statistics -Bureau of Transportation Statistics (media release)


Omaha airport takes significant damage from EF-2 tornado -Fox Weather

Amtrak can take control of Washington Union Station, federal judge rules -WTTG-TV

How the Baltimore bridge collapse upended a D.C. coffee chain’s business -Washington Post

NJ Transit releases first sustainability plan -Mass Transit

Smart streetscape to pilot mobility program in Buffalo -Public Square

Administration’s Investing in America Agenda Supports Flood Reduction Infrastructure Project in Historic Savannah Community -FEMA (media release)


Planning for climate change, Delaware State Senate passed new legislation -WRDE-TV

Vehicle platooning in TN designed to increase road safety, decrease pollution -WKRN-TV

Are the Great Lakes the key to solving America’s emissions conundrum? -National Geographic

FAA Finalizes Rule to Reduce Carbon Particle Emissions from Aircraft Engines -FAA (media release)

FHWA Announces Nearly $150 Million in Grants to Help Reduce Truck Air Pollution Near America’s Ports -FHWA (media release)


Buttigieg and Black mayors preview transportation projects designed to heal historic inequities –CNN

MassDEP Investing in Air Quality Sensors in Environmental Justice Communities -iBerkshires.com

In a push for more housing density near transit lines, highway dollars have become a political football -Colorado Public Radio

CDTA to bring mobility hubs to Albany, Troy -WTEN-TV

Understanding Environmental Justice In Rural Communities -Forbes (opinion)


MnDOT seeks more volunteers to keep roads clean -KARE-TV

The Minnesota Mayor Making Space for Monarch Butterflies –CityLab


Amtrak expansion grabs interest from tourism organizations in South Dakota -KSFY-TV

Can You Compost That? A Cheat Sheet on What Goes in the Bin -Bloomberg Green

Maryland DOT State Highway Administration Wins Preservation Award Railroad Report -Maryland Department of Planning (media release)


Lessons on how (and how not) to build a bike-friendly city -Corporate Knights

Unsanctioned signs installed along San Francisco’s Wiggle bike route –SFGATE

Minnesota’s Metro Transit Steps Up Safety Efforts With Monitors Displaying Bus Behavior For All To See -Star Tribune


The Future of Ferry Electrification in Rural Areas -TRB (webinar)

Navigating public transport during a pandemic: Key lessons on travel behavior and social equity from two surveys in Tehran –ScienceDirect


Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All -The President (Executive Order)

Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program -FHWA (Notice)

California State Nonroad Engine Pollution Control Standards; In-Use Diesel-Fueled Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU) and TRU Generator Sets and In-Use Off-Road Diesel Fueled Fleets; Requests for Authorization; Opportunity for Public Hearing and Comment -EPA (Notice)

Notice of Availability of Programmatic Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Transit Projects -FTA (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the GreenThumb Gardens Water Supply Project, New York, NY for Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond Counties -Natural Resources Conservation Service (Notice)

Anchorage Regulations; Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, California -Coast Guard (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Adoption of a Department of the Air Force Categorical Exclusion Under the National Environmental Policy Act -NASA (Notice)

Kootenai National Forest; Montana; Kootenai National Forest Over-Snow Motorized Use Travel PlanForest Service (Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement)

Notice of Determinations on the Demand Response and Electric Vehicle Standards -Tennessee Valley Authority (Notice of determinations on the PURPA Standards set forth in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021)