Environmental News Highlights – June 2, 2021


Center for Environmental Excellence Unveils New Website Packed with Resources – AASHTO News

Senate Democrats prepare to work on Biden infrastructure plan ‘with or without’ Republicans – CNBC

Senate Republicans Release $928 Billion Infrastructure Counteroffer – NPR

Climate resilience is the new sustainability – The Hill (Opinion)


Empty airports and full delivery trucks: Covid’s toll on infrastructure, by the numbers – Politico


Environmental Justice Advocates Seek Changes to Permitting Law – Bloomberg Law

To Fight Climate Change, President Biden Needs to Retire NEPA – RealClear Energy (Opinion)


What Jacksonville Can Learn From Nashville About Fighting Climate Change – WUSF

Infrastructure plan calls for fixing the nation’s existing roads. Some states are still focused on expansion – Washington Post

New Study Reveals Impact of Flooding on Maryland’s Transportation Infrastructure – Pew

Photovoltaic roof for highways – pv magazine

How to Fix America – CityLab

It’s time to get imaginative about Washington transportation – Chinook Observer (Editorial)


Why Republicans won’t fund EVs – E&E News

Million-dollar battery could help charge Casco Bay hybrid ferry – Mass Transit

How the US Can Cut Carbon Emissions in Half by 2030, with or without Congress – Boston University

Albertsons marks milestone with 100% zero-emission truck delivery – Supermarket News

A Big Climate Problem With Few Easy Solutions: Planes – New York Times


The Inequality of American Parks – Bloomberg CityLab


Putting nature’s infrastructure to work for North Carolina – WRAL (Opinion)


FDOT investigating erased veteran and Black cemeteries under I-175 ahead of possible project – WTSP-TV

TxDOT looks to Texas rapper Chamillionaire for inspiration on new highway sign – Laredo Morning Times

Goodbye to a Yankee Farmer, the Ghost of Exit 8 – New York Times

Biden Purges Trump Appointees from D.C. Design Commission – CityLab


Creative methods making better Miami mobility possible – Miami Today

NOACA seeks public input on transportation connections for bikes, pedestrians, transit riders and drivers in downtown Cleveland – Plain Dealer

Elected officials weigh in on noise at Brightridge-linked Bitcoin ‘mine’ – WJHL-TV

Sidewalks, bike lanes and trails are essential transportation infrastructure – The Hill (Opinion)


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

Seeking Panel Members for FY 2022 Projects in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP): Nominations due June 30 – TRB

Seeking Panel Nominations for FY 2022 National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis Topics: Nominations due June 30 – TRB

FAA Seeks Applications for Grants to Reduce Airports’ Environmental Impacts – FAA

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices: Looking Back, Looking Forward with Jeff Lindley, PE, ITE Chief Technical Officer – ITE Talks Transportation (Podcast)


Air Plan Approval; Texas; Revisions to the Texas Diesel Emissions Reduction Incentive Program – EPA (Final rule)

Information Collection; Application for Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or OrderForest Service (Notice; request for comment)

Agency Information Collection Activities; National Digital Trails Project – Trails Data Portal – Geological Survey (Notice of information collection; request for comment)

When Guano Happens, State DOTs Call on the Falcon

Several state departments of transportation are helping bring back the Peregrine falcon from the brink of extinction by providing nesting platforms on bridges – creating a true symbiotic relationship that protects bird and bridge.

[Photo by Michigan DOT.]

By the 1970s, Peregrine falcon populations were nearly wiped out in the United States, partly because of the widespread use of the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane – more commonly known as DDT – made the falcons’ eggshells too brittle. The ban of DDT helped to re-establish the falcons, which prefer to lay their eggs on ledges at high altitudes.

Meanwhile, state DOTs across the U.S. were battling the corrosive effects of pigeon guano, which can eat away at the concrete and steel on bridges as well as pose cleanup hazards for work crews.

Enter the falcon, which loves to feast on pigeons – or at the very least scare them away.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is one of several DOTs that encourage falcons to nest under their bridges. In 2010, the Michigan DOT placed a simple wooden platform on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge across the St. Mary’s River to provide the birds a safe nesting place, according to Dan Weingarten with Michigan DOT’s Office of Communications. So far, the platform has been home for 30 falcon chicks that have hatched, helping locally re-establish the species.

[Editor’s note: You can view a live camera feed of the falcons by clicking here.]

The platform is a win-win for MDOT, which does not want the pigeons and their acidic droppings, and the falcons, who need a high-altitude home for nesting and hunting.

“One of the reasons it seemed like a good fit is they would prey on or scare away the pigeons,” Weingarten said. “It seems to have worked. The pigeons at least moved.”

Photo by Michigan DOT

In 2013, the Michigan DOT installed two more platforms at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge that have produced 24 chicks. Crews have since relocated those boxes to other locations because of bridge repair work, but many other states have active falcon nesting programs on their bridges.

One of the first states to get into the falcon platform business was Virginia, which placed a nesting box on the Coleman Bridge in the early 1990s. Since then, the Virginia Department of Transportation has placed several more platforms on other bridges – work that greatly benefits the falcon population, according to a report from The Center for Conservation Biology.

“Bridges have made a significant contribution to the Virginia peregrine falcon population,” supporting more than 30 percent of the known falcon population in the state, the report noted.

Other states – including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio – also have built and installed platforms to welcome the peregrine falcon to nest in their bridges. “Infrastructure is a small part of the comeback story of these birds,” Michigan DOT’s Weingarten said. “But it’s definitely played a role in re-establishing them.”

Minnesota DOT Unveils First Statewide Pedestrian Safety Plan

The Minnesota Department of Transportation released its first Statewide Pedestrian System Plan on May 26 – a plan that provides policy and investment guidance to improve places where people walk across and along Minnesota highways.

[Photo by Minnesota DOT]

The plan identifies current priority areas for investments while laying out specific strategies to improve walking availability and accessibility statewide for the next 20 years.

“This plan provides an important framework and will help ensure we are meeting the needs and interests of people, today and into the future,” explained Minnesota DOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who serves as chairperson of the AASHTO Committee on the Environment, in a statement.

“Creating safe places for people to walk is essential to improving equity and mobility, addressing climate change, and ultimately providing a better quality of life for everyone,” she said.
Kelliher added that the agency’s Statewide Pedestrian System Plan offers policy direction, identifies investment need, and provides technical guidance to improve the state transportation system for people who walk. It also sets performance measures to track progress towards creating a better pedestrian system and identifies strategies to protect people walking from the effects of climate change.

The Minnesota DOT noted that work on its pedestrian plan begin in February 2019 and included two public engagement efforts that reached 2,700 people statewide. The agency also installed seven pedestrian safety demonstrations projects across Minnesota to highlight certain safety measures in action to the public.

“This plan helps [us] identify opportunities and implement the right strategies on projects to make walking safer and more convenient for all Minnesotans,” noted Tori Nill, director of Office of Transit and Active Transportation within the Minnesota DOT. “While the plan doesn’t tell us exactly what to do in every situation, it does provide the tools we need to make those decisions and make sure pedestrian safety is included on every highway project,” Nill said.