Recordings Available for AASHTO COIVD-19 Virtual Panels

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently made recordings available of its weekly series of COVID-19 “virtual panels” held in April.

The AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Security & Resilience, through its Resilient and Sustainable Transportation Systems or RSTS Technical Assistance Program, sponsored those panels, which focused COVID-19 response and recovery issues faced by state departments of transportation.

The panels featured COVID-19 updates from the Federal Highway Administration, Transportation Security Administration, and Department of Homeland Security as well as from other state and local transportation agencies, followed by a question and answer session.

The panel recordings and materials can be accessed by clicking here.

ETAP Podcast: Interview with The Ray’s Allie Kelly

The inaugural episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast includes an interview with Allie Kelly executive director of The Ray – a corporate venture devoted to roadway technology testing. She talks about her group’s work with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration as part of a “public-private-philanthropic partnership” or P4 charter to collaborate on ways to better use an 18-mile-long portion of Interstate 85 The Ray manages as a “living transportation laboratory.”

“The infrastructure changes we need to make for autonomous and connected vehicles is pretty clear,” she explained during the podcast. “Clear signage and lane markings are critical as are technologies for managing the data streams coming from connected vehicles in real-time to understand where dangerous crashes are located and how to better protect work zones, among other benefits.”

It’s about developing highway infrastructure that is cleaner, smarter, and more efficient, Kelly noted. “We’ve been working with the Georgia Department of Transportation for five years and the formal [P4] charter agreement we signed in 2019 is helping us develop larger projects, such as a group of solar panels on the highway right-of-way managed by Georgia Power that helps reduce expenditures on right-of-way maintenance.” To access more of Ray’s ETAP podcast commentary, click here.

Nevada DOT Moves Toward Greener Pavement through Recycling

During the many years that the Nevada Department of Transportation redefined and developed its recycled asphalt pavement program, Changlin “Charlie” Pan – the agency’s chief material engineer – believes several of the most important lessons learned over that time period center on the development of specifications for the recycled materials as well as the construction methods for those recycling projects. 

“Communication with the project manager during design and contractors during construction to find a balance between construction cost and quality of the finished product,” Pan explained, served as “the key” to success of developing the most suitable specification for the best product. 

“In the long run, recycling/reuse efforts will reduce pavement life cycle costs and extend highway pavement life in between scheduled rehabilitation,” he added.

The Nevada DOT uses thousands of tons of recycled asphalt pavement each year within its cold-in-place or CIP recycling practices, the agency noted, and it also incorporates used tires into a rubberized asphalt roadway mix for some projects, too.

CIP Recycling is a method of reusing the existing asphalt surface by grinding off the top two to three inches of the existing asphalt surface and mixing the crushed asphalt in place with an emulsified asphalt recycling agent, then placing it back down with a paver. This restores existing material reducing the amount of outside material required to be hauled into and out of the project site. It is also a “cold process,” meaning that it requires minimal additional heat during the recycling process, resulting in a decrease in the amount of energy required to produce the final material.

The most prevalent recycling effort is the usage of recycled asphalt pavement or RAP.

Since 2010, nearly every ton of paved structural pavement in Nevada has included 15 percent of the mixture replaced with RAP, the Nevada DOT noted, which permits the regular use of recycled materials without significantly decreasing expected pavement lifespan. The widespread practice has permitted the usage of tens of thousands of tons of fully recycled pavement annually, reducing the use of fossil fuels and other raw materials and reducing waste material going into landfill, the agency said.

It’s all part of a long-terms effort by Nevada to find the best technologies for reducing and reusing various materials in pavement rehabilitation projects. 

For example, a University of Nevada – Reno study noted that the Nevada DOT has been using CIP recycling methods since 1995. The long-term field performance of CIP projects throughout Nevada indicated that it is an effective rehabilitation treatment for roads with low to medium traffic levels. On top of that, Nevada continues to improve and develop the process to provide the most environmentally friendly specifications while maintaining quality pavements. 

The Nevada DOT is also increasing utilization of a process which replaces a minimum 20 percent of the asphalt binder with ground tire rubber creating a mixture called an Asphaltic-Rubber Friction Course; a process proven to increase the lifespan and significantly reduce highway noise in certain applications such as over concrete pavements.  

The agency also began using rubberized asphalt in the early 1990s and performed research to determine the most economical thickness in order to reduce cracking and durability problems; especially its resistance to cold-weather cracking and warm-weather rutting. Nevada then passed legislation in the early 2000s that stopped sending whole tires to landfills – requiring them to be recycled instead. Thus, the use of the recycled tire rubber in asphalt became one of the top uses to successfully eliminate environmental harm from the disposal of the old tires. 

In fact, the Rubber Pavements Association states that between 500 and 2,000 scrap tires can be used in each lane mile of pavement. Depending on the application type used, a one-mile section of a four-lane highway will use between 2,000 and 8,000 tires, while “rubberized” pavements are also known to significantly reduce noise pollution. 

Further permissible usage of recycled tire rubber results from paving grade asphalts to be substituted with a terminal blend asphalt that allows 10 percent replacement with processed recycled rubber. This process proved fiscally beneficial in the economic downturn of the late 2000s – known as the Great Recession – that drove down fuel and asphalt prices to record low levels. With careful evaluation, this material permitted the usage of more economical products with no perceivable reduction in the high-performance expectations of Nevada’s pavements.

Environmental News Highlights – May 6, 2020

A roundup of headlines curated for state transportation environmental professionals

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Transit advocates want to “build political will for a green transportation future plan” – Washington Policy Center

Trump Shines Spotlight on Infrastructure Amid Uncertain Legislative Agenda – Transport Topics

California Attorney General Files Lawsuit Challenging the Trump Administration’s Final Rule Redefining the “Waters Of The United States” Under the Clean Water Act – Sierra Sun Times

Let’s get Minnesota’s economy moving (copy) – The Kenton Leader (Opinion)

Mississippi and nation need bold infrastructure legislation – Clarion Ledger

ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough Makes Case for Infrastructure Package with Trump Administration – ARTBA (Press Release)


McConnell: Infrastructure will not be in next coronavirus relief bill – The Hill

San Diego’s Infrastructure Problems Expected To Grow In COVID-19’s Wake – KPBS

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Public Transit with Paul Skoutelas, APTA President and CEO – ITE Talks Transportation (podcast)

EPA Interim Guidance on Site Field Work Decisions Due to Impacts of COVID-19 – National Law Review


PD Editorial: Plan for a managed retreat from climate change – Press Democrat (Sonoma Co., CA)


L.A. coronavirus clean air streak has already come to an end. Here’s why – Los Angeles Times (subscription required)

Montana’s air quality hasn’t improved during COVID-19 closures — it was already good – Billings Gazette

The largest Arctic ozone hole ever recorded is now closed – CBS News


EPA provides grant funding to support environmental justice communities impacted by COVID-19 – Highland County Press

The White River: Cleanup follows decades of civil rights abuses. Now who will benefit? – Indianapolis Star


State suing solar developer for pollution and wetlands violations – WWLP (Boston, MA)

Tool to help communities get a grip on greenhouse gases – The MetroWest Daily News (Boston, MA)

How We got here: Habitat restoration in Lake Pepin and the Upper Mississippi River – (subscription required)

Stakeholders Meet to Advance Nature-Based Stormwater Management in North CarolinaPew Trusts


Meaning and Memory: Making a Place for Culture in Historic Preservation – Hidden City (Philadelphia)


Bike lanes provide positive economic impactScience Daily

Community calls for ‘slow streets’ to take pressure off city parks and trails – Austin Monitor

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership wants public input on proposed mobility principles for Golden Triangle – Post-Gazette

Spin exec: The scooter industry will see a resurgence – Smart Cities Dive

After COVID, telecommuting could play a role in easing Missoula’s traffic challenge – Missoula Current

Skateboarding advocate wants seat at active transportation tableBikePortland

Bike trails included among proposed Smokies projects – Smoky Mountain News

Researchers explore effects of COVID-19 on urban mobilitySmart Cities Dive


More moose GPS collars deployed to track when and where they cross Wyoming highway (photos) – Oil City News


Existing and Emerging Highway Infrastructure Preservation, Maintenance, and Renewal Definitions, Practices, and ScenariosTRB (Report)

Evaluating the Suitability of Roadway Corridors for Use by Monarch Butterflies -TRB (Report)

Bicyclist Facility Preferences and Effects on Increasing Bicycle Trips – TRB (Report)

Innovation of the Month: Unmanned Aerial Systems – FHWA


Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Program Technical Amendments – Environmental Protection Agency (Final Rule)

National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures Energy Department (Proposed Rule)

Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions on Proposed Highway in Utah – FHWA (Notice)

Notice of Availability of the Revised Record of Decision for the Mountain View Corridor Project in Utah and Final Federal Agency Actions – FHWA (Notice)