Environmental News Highlights – June 16, 2021


House T&I Approves 5-Year Surface Transportation Bill After Contentious 17-hour Mark Up – AASHTO Journal

Bipartisan group of U.S. senators says it has a deal on infrastructure framework – Reuters

$5.6B in Earmarks Included in Transportation Bill – Route Fifty

Rural Transit Gets Rare Bipartisan Backing for Infrastructure – Bloomberg Government

What Is Pete Buttigieg Doing? – The Atlantic

Why Infrastructure Spending Should Empower Megaregions – Governing (Commentary)


Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs: Summary of Recent Changes – CDC

U.S. Department of Transportation Thanks Transit Agencies for Helping Americans Access COVID-19 Vaccination Sites Nationwide and Encourages More to Step up as Part of National Month of Action – USDOT


U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney Introduces NEPA Reform Bill to Streamline Regulations and Empower State/Local Leaders – Sierra Sun Times

Infrastructure funding might throw environmental protections under the bus – The Hill (Opinion)


Climate emerges as infrastructure sticking point – The Hill

City earns Gold LEED-certification from U.S. Green Building Council – WCTV-TV

Oregon beefs up graffiti removal along Portland freeways but struggles to eradicate it – The Oregonian

Los Angeles will Use Data to Promote Sustainable Transportation: Here’s How

Environment + Energy Leader


Connecticut DOT Climate Initiative Program and Partnership with Department of Environmental Protection – AASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

U.S. EPA to re-examine health standards for harmful soot – Reuters

New Colorado Air Quality Plan Encourages Alternatives To Driving To Work – KCNC-TV


New data maps transit’s racial inequities – Journal of Oak Park and River Forest

Biden’s Energy Department Pick Seen As Staunch Environmental Justice Advocate – NPR


Arizona DOT Continues Work to Preserve Rare Cactus – AASHTO Journal

Illinois DOT Mowing Program also Protects Pollinator Habitat – AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence

Biden pushes protection for more streams and wetlands, targeting a major Trump rollback – Washington Post

NDOT Encourages Nevadans to Use Best Practices in Landscaping to Protect Stormwater Runoff – Nevada Department of Transportation (News release)

Vital clean-water protections are under legislative threat in Ohio: George A. Elmaraghy – Cleveland Plain Dealer (Opinion)


RIDOT: Plan to make East Bay Bike Path detour safer in the works – WPRI-TV

St. Louis using zebra-style delineators to help separate car and bike traffic – KTVI-TV

What Will It Take to Finish This Bike Trail Across the U.S.? – CityLab

Railroad track removal underway for Parkline Trail – Daily Inter Lake

Dover Community Trail celebrates grand opening of latest expansion – Foster’s Daily Democrat


TRB Webinar: Compost It! Environmental Benefits of Compost in Highway Roadsides – TRB

AASHTO Executive Institute Now Taking Applications – AASHTO Journal

The Interplay Between Environmental Exposures and Mental Health Outcomes – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division on Earth and Life Studies

Inaugural Trails and Greenways Summit Announced for September 2021 – New Jersey DOT


Pipeline Safety: Statutory Mandate To Update Inspection and Maintenance Plans To Address Eliminating Hazardous Leaks and Minimizing Releases of Natural Gas From Pipeline Facilities Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice; issuance of advisory bulletin)

Public Meeting of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee – U.S. Geological Survey (Notice of public meeting)

Forest Service Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Advisory Committee – Forest Service, USDA. (Notice of meeting)

Atlantic Wind Lease Sale 8 (ATLW-8) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf in the New York Bight – Proposed Sale Notice – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, (Proposed sale notice; request for comments)

Georgia DOT Deploys ‘Lessons Learned’ for 2021 Hurricane Season

The Georgia Department of Transportation’s state maintenance office is tapping into five years’ worth of “lessons learned” to help fine-tune its storm response capabilities ahead of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season – which lasts from June 1 through November 30.

[Above photo by the Georgia DOT]

“Over the last five years, after each weather or emergency event, Georgia DOT conducted after action reviews to address key takeaways, identify gaps in operations and brainstorm best practices for moving forward,” explained Larry Barnes, Georgia DOT’s assistant state maintenance engineer of emergency operations, in a statement.

“This effort has allowed us to continue to build up resources and develop more effective weather and emergency response plans to ensure that we are able to clear roads and restore mobility to Georgians as efficiently and safely as possible,” he said.

Photo by the Georgia DOT

Some of the storm response tactics developed from those takeaways include: 

  • Each of Georgia DOT’s seven districts now features a “Chainsaw and Emergency Response” trailer stocked and ready to go for debris removal operations. 
  • A hurricane gate contract for continued maintenance on all gates statewide to ensure they are ready for contraflow operations, if needed. 
  • Upgrading the agency’s WebEOC system – originally deployed in 2015 and used by its emergency operation center – to improve incident management, resource tracking, and mapping capabilities.
  • Securing debris clean-up contractors to clear both state routes and interstates post disaster, allowing Georgia DOT forces to work more efficiently and to provide off-system assistance to counties and local municipalities who request it. 
  • Improved communications through Sonims: rugged mobile devices that more robust communication capability for in-field teams during disaster recovery operations. Sonims can also track where crews have been working resulting in more efficient clean up, the Georgia DOT said. 
  • Increasing the number of mobile message boards, barrels, and cones available for hurricane-response needs.

The Georgia DOT added that, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 2021 hurricane season is expected to be “above average” with an anticipated 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to five “major” hurricanes –defined as Category 3 or greater – predicted to develop over the next six months.

New Jersey DOT Co-Hosting First-Ever Trails Summit

The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are co-hosting the state’s first ever trails summit to demonstrate opportunities to create robust trail networks throughout the state.

[Above photo by the New Jersey DOT]

Kicking off on September 1st, the month-long 2021 New Jersey Trails & Greenways Summit will be a free online event aimed at broadening the conversation around trails and increasing local knowledge about the funding, design, construction, maintenance, and use of multi-use paths, trail crossings and Complete Streets.

The New Jersey DOT added that the summit would also feature a variety of webinars and online social mixers along with Saturday morning mobile workshops hosted by bicycle clubs and nonprofit organizations statewide.

“Trails are an increasingly important piece of the transportation network in New Jersey, providing safe corridors for walking and bicycling,” explained NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti in a statement. “These networks connect neighborhoods and communities while also providing important resources for public health and wellbeing.” “Trails are truly at the intersection of conservation and recreation, providing access to preserved places and scenic landscapes,” added NJDEP’s Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “This inaugural summit will allow trail planners, builders, and advocates to gather, share resources, and collaborate on a ‘future-focused trails vision’ that incorporates climate resilience and promotes environmental justice.”