Environmental News Highlights – June 29, 2022


State DOTs Issue Drafts of EV Infrastructure Plans – AASHTO Journal

Federal agencies reverse Trump limits on habitat protection – AP

US House Transportation Panel Passes FEMA Bill – Transport Topics

Here’s how to meet Biden’s 2030 climate goals and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions – with today’s technology – The Conversation

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Provide $25.5 Million for Water Efficiency Projects in Eight Western States – US Department of Interior (Media release)


AI Tool for COVID Monitoring Offers Solution for Urban Congestion – IEEE Spectrum

Is It Safe To Fly? The National Academy Of Sciences, Engineering, And Medicine Weighs In – Forbes


Maryland Starts NEPA Study for Bay Crossing Project – AASHTO Journal


NYSDOT Begins ‘Engagement’ for Expressway Project – AASHTO Journal

Port of Morrow continued to pollute after January fine, now faces $2.1 million fine, state says – Oregon Capital Chronicle

FAA tests solar-power airfield lighting at Penn Yan Airport – CNY Central

Possible lead exposure around small airports – FlowingData

Why Salt Lake City wants residents to ‘adopt’ a storm drain – KSL.com

DOT Joins New Federal-State Partnership to Expand Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain – USDOT (Media release)


California Considers ‘Carbon Farming’ As a Potential Climate Solution. Ardent Proponents, and Skeptics, Abound – Inside Climate News

New NDOT Highway Cement Standards To Reduce 4,000 Tons of Carbon Emissions Per Year – Nevada DOT (Media release)


FTA Supporting Projects for ‘Underserved Groups’ – AASHTO Journal

EPA Mulls How to Defend Environmental Justice Decisions in Court – Bloomberg

2 Tarpon Springs commissioners oppose mention of inequity in road safety plan – Tampa Bay Times

The essential reality and necessity of environmental justice – Capitol Weekly

New Jersey releases blueprint for landmark environmental justice law – Grist


Tree clearing at Port of Albany puts $29.5M federal grant for wind facility at risk – Spectrum News 1

Giant Company’s solar field shines a light on saving honeybees – PennLive

Sued over pollution, Port of Everett works on water quality issues – Daily Herald

Infrastructure law funds Nevada sagebrush restoration projects – Nevada Current

Louisiana DOTD: Litter caused flash flooding on Mississippi River Bridge Tuesday afternoon – WBRZ-TV


Uncovering Stories of Lincoln Highway marker sites – York Daily Record

Mayor Bowser Celebrates the Extension of Metropolitan Branch Trail From Brookland to Fort Totten – DDOT (Media release)


Climate Change, Fossil-Fuel Pollution, and Children’s Health – New England Journal of Medicine

City of Bend adding incentives – and penalties – to address issues with Bird e-bikes being left around town – KTVZ-TV

Hiking trails project on Lake Michigan dunes gets $100K grant – MLive

Group’s lawsuit and call for freeze on bike lanes get first hearing as wires come down in Porter – Cambridge Day

Data shows biking in Charleston, South Carolina is growing but infrastructure is behind – WCSC-TV


Strings Attached – Permissible Uses of Airport Property and Revenue – TRB (Webinar)

Assessing Public Health Benefits of Replacing Freight Trucks with Cargo Cycles in Last Leg Delivery Trips in Urban Centers Cargo Cycles in Last Leg Delivery Trips in Urban Centers – Mineta Transportation Institute/San José State University


National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program – FHWA (Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments)

Notice of Final Agency Actions on Proposed Railroad Project in California on Behalf of the California High Speed Rail Authority – FRA (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Colorado River Valley Field Office and Grand Junction Field Office Resource Management Plans, ColoradoBureau of Land Management (Notice of intent)

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore New JerseyBureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice)

Draft Guidance for Vessel Sewage No. Discharge Zones – EPA (Notice of availability; request
for comment)

(Note: following are separate items)

Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit – EPA (Notice; request for public comment)

Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit – EPA (Notice; request for public comment)

Tennessee DOT Helps Turn Old Tires into Walking Trail

An eyesore of thousands of dumped tires were recently recycled into material for a hard-surface walking and biking trail at the Tennessee state park in Memphis they once littered, thanks in part to a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The Tennessee DOT and Tennessee State Parks recently opened the 2.5-mile-long walking and biking trail at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis. Billed as one of the longest rubber-bearing trails in the country, the new trail is primarily composed of 24,000 recycled tires.

Tennessee DOT issued a $200,000 litter grant to support the trail project, which shredded those 24,000 abandoned tires into quarter-inch pieces of crumb rubber. A federal recreational trails program provided another $280,000, with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation or TDEC providing an additional $250,000 grant.

“Litter and illegal dumping are costly and damaging to Tennessee,” explained Joseph Galbato, III, who until recently served as Tennessee DOT’s interim commissioner, in a statement.

[In May, Governor Bill Lee (R) appointed Deputy Governor Butch Eley to serve as the agency’s commissioner in addition to Eley’s current duties.]

“We are thankful for collaborative partnerships like the ‘Tires to Trails’ project which not only addresses the litter problem but turns it into a meaningful and positive long-lasting resource for the community,” Galbato added.

Michael McClanahan, an outreach specialist with Tennessee DOT, getting his hands dirty to help pull tires out of the park.

The crumb rubber from the old tires – mixed with a rock aggregate and a polyurethane binder – does not include the metal from those tires, noted Brent Miller, manager of Patriot Tire Recycling in Bristol, TN.

Typically, recycled tires are shredded and used as fuel stock for power plants and paper mills, or made into doormats, he explained.

“This was the first time we’ve done a trail,” said Miller, whose company handles about a million tires a year.

Recycled tires can live a useful second life in some transportation applications. The crumb rubber creates a flexible roadway that resists cracking, requires less maintenance, and is easier on the feet of walkers and joggers, said Alle Crampton, environmental scientist, and manager of the Tire Environmental Act Program for the state.

The walkways also are porous, virtually reducing the stormwater runoff problems associated with concrete and asphalt. The water can soak through the trail and reach the root systems of trees, making it less likely that the root systems will expand and crack the walkway, Crampton said.

More than 400 volunteers collected the passenger, commercial truck, and heavy equipment tires from the park, with many of the volunteers coming from Tennessee DOT, TDEC, the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and Memphis City Beautiful.

T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. Originally built in 1938, the state later renamed the park in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African-American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader, and author.

Sweet Success: NCDOT Crews Help Rescue Honey Bees

Routine highway maintenance conducted by a North Carolina Department of Transportation work crew turned into one “honey” of a rescue mission in early June.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

NCDOT Division 9 maintenance crews were working on storm drain repairs and cutting down dead trees along U.S. 52 and discovered something unusual: Two honey-making beehive colonies nestled within one of the dead trees.

An online search for honeybee resources led the crew to “Miss Humble B’s Hive,” a local organization affiliated with the Forsyth County Beekeepers Association.

The group came to the highway work site and collected one live queen, some honeycomb, and most of the hive – relocating the bees to a small wooden hive in their own backyard. The bees rescued from the badly damaged hive at the U.S. 52 site will remain in the wooden hive until the queen starts laying eggs and the colony has enough bees to protect a larger hive, NCDOT said

While honeybees are not listed as an endangered species, their numbers along with several other species of bees have been on the decline over the past few decades – largely attributed to climate change, harmful chemical use, and habitat loss, among other factors. The loss of these important pollinators could have a significant impact on fruit and vegetable crops and wildflowers, noted Tiffany Williams-Brooks, who owns Miss Humble B’s Hive with her husband, Derek.

“When we look at the honeybee population, it is definitely on a decline,” she said in a statement. “When it comes to the number of hives beekeepers have nationally, the number has declined by at least 50 percent over the last several years.”

In terms of the rescued hives, Williams-Brooks said she could not find new broods and eggs. “We found open queen cells where new queens had emerged at some point,” she explained. “There were a lot of bees flying around, but they may not have belonged to that hive. We are in a nectar dearth, [or] scarcity of nectar, so often we will see bees coming in to take honey from other hives.”

Still, NCDOT Transportation Supervisor Kenny Butler – who, along with colleagues Greg Dellacona and Danielle Herrin, located Miss Humble B’s Hive to rescue the bees found along U.S. 52 – considers this bee relocation a success. “It was simply the right thing to do,” he emphasized. “We’re proud of the work our people do and are appreciative of the effort they take to just do the right thing.”

State departments of transportation across the country are engaged in a variety of efforts to preserve pollinator habitats, both for insects and specific plants.

For example, in October 2021, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts or GACD began installing 15 pollinator habitat sites in designated locations as part of a joint effort to educate state residents about the important role “pollinators” such as bees, butterflies, and other insects play in Georgia’s agricultural sector.

“This partnership provides Georgia DOT with the unique opportunity to create a safe and beautiful place for families and travelers to get up close and personal with the wildflowers and grasses [to] learn about how they impact the world around us,” explained Felicity Davis, a landscape architect manager with the Georgia DOT, in a statement.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation participated in a similar endeavor with the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) and Tennessee Department of Agriculture as those three agencies formed a partnership in 2019 to support 64 acres of “pollinator meadows” at eight state parks.

Each blooming meadow contains a mix of nectar-bearing plants and milkweed, which sustain pollinators such as bees, moths, butterflies, birds, and small mammals such as bats. Those meadows also assist with TDEC’s Honey Project, which allows the public to purchase honey harvested annually within state parks across Tennessee.

The Tennessee DOT also recently launched a series of animated videos about pollination and pollinator species featuring the narrator “Polli the Tennessee Bee” to educate children about the process of pollination, its importance, and the pollinator species native to Tennessee.

It’s all part of “re-envisioning” the role state DOTs can play in turning roadway rights-of-way into protective habitats, Matthew Quirey – a landscape design and research fellow with The Ray, which is a public-private venture devoted to roadway technology testing along Interstate 85 in West Georgia

In a July 2021 episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Quirey explained how state DOTs can view such roadside “landscapes” are “habitat assets” instead of maintenance burdens.

“In general, we are thinking more about how right-of-ways are being redesigned to bring habitats back together – to serve not just as transportation corridors but ecosystem corridors as well,” he explained. That includes how right-of-ways can serve as habitats for pollinators, and contribute to better stormwater management in order to lessen pollution risks for nearby streams and rivers – incorporating sustainability and resiliency factors within more “environmentally sensitive” planning and design processes, Quirey said.