Environmental News Highlights – June 30, 2021


White House, Senators Agree on Infrastructure Funding Proposal – AASHTO Journal

Infrastructure deal would boost investments in transportation, with infusions for rail and transit
Washington Post

Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal May Be A Tough Sell To The Rest Of Congress – NPR

Portman, Manchin Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill To Finish Appalachian Development Highway System – Senator Rob Portman (News release)

Factsheet: President Biden Announces Support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework – White House (News release)


Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency – San Francisco Examiner

For Disabled Users, the ‘Open Streets’ of the Pandemic Remain Closed – CityLab


State DOTs Bracing for Highly Active Hurricane Season – AASHTO Journal

Some say “no climate, no deal” as EVs, green energy lose traction in infrastructure compromise – Green Car Reports

Plan to let many San Diego businesses eliminate parking spots clears key hurdle – San Diego Union-Tribune

Small Cities Can’t Manage the High Cost of Old Infrastructure – Governing


Oregon lawmakers approve ambitious carbon-reduction goals for state energy grid – Oregon Public Broadcasting

Regional initiative to cut road emissions wins RI Senate approval – Providence Journal

Germany Confronts the Future of Short-Haul Flights – CityLab

Activists push back against rising air pollution from Sea-Tac Airport – KUOW Radio

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $182 Million in Grants to Expand Low or No Emission Transit Vehicles & Facilities Nationwide – FTA

DOE researchers examine biofuels for maritime shipping – US Department of Energy


The White House Wants To Fight Climate Change And Help People. Cleveland Led The Way – NPR’s Morning Edition

EPA Creates $50 Million Fund For Environmental Justice Initiatives – Rolling Stone

How Climate-Proofing Mass Transit Can Make Cities More Equitable – Bloomberg Green

5 Ways to Shape a Greener, More Equitable Recovery Through Transport – TheCityFix


Tennessee Agencies Work Together to Support Pollinators – AASHTO Journal

New Yorkers fled to the Hamptons in 2020 – and sparked a major sewage crisis – The Guardian

Nationwide evaluation of tree cover shows huge opportunity to reduce heat exposure and boost air quality and employment – American Forests (News release)


Lehigh Valley lands $1.4 million for bike trails, cycling organizations and pedestrian safety – Morning Call

State rules out I-90 pedestrian path despite feasibility study – Billings Gazette

A downtown Aspen without cars? Not so fast, council says – Aspen Times

How walkable Delaware beach towns are trying to prevent pedestrian and bike crashes this summer – Delaware News Journal

TransLink launches new on-demand bike lockers – South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (News release)


Official Trail Marker for the New England National Scenic Trail – National Park Service (Notice of designation)

Air Plan Approval; Nebraska; Revisions to Title 129 of the Nebraska Administrative Code; Chapter 39 Visible Emissions From Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicles – EPA (Final rule)

Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; New Jersey and New York; 1997 Ozone Attainment Demonstrations for the NY-NJ-CT Nonattainment Area – EPA (Proposed rule)

Request for Nominations of Candidates for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Particulate Matter (PM) Panel – EPA (Notice)

Petition for Approval: Alaska Railroad Corporation Approval Extension – FRA (Notice of conditional approval)

Alaska Region Supplement to Forest Service Manual 2720: Special Uses; Outfitting and Guiding Permit for Strictly Point-To-Point Commercial Transportation to, From, and Within the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Subunit of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area – Forest Service (Notice of availability for public comment)

Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary Designation; Final Regulations – NOAA (Final rule)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Empire Offshore Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facilities Offshore New York – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement)

Utah DOT Issues Draft EIS for Little Cottonwood Canyon Project

The Utah Department of Transportation identified two “preferred alternatives” to improve transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon in a draft Environmental Impact Statement or EIS issued on June 24 – alternatives that deliver mobility and reliability benefits while minimizing impact on water quality, air quality, plus visual/noise affects, among others.

[Above photo by Utah DOT]

Along with a 45-day public comment period on the EIS – which ends on August 9 – the Utah DOT said in a statement that it plans to host an in-person public open house and a hearing on July 13 to review both alternatives: events that will be livestreamed and recorded as well.

Based on its technical analysis – a process started three years ago – Utah DOT identified the Enhanced Bus Service in Peak-Period Shoulder Lane as the alternative that “best improves” mobility for the project, while the Gondola Alternative B is alternative that best improves transportation reliability.

The Enhanced Bus Service in Peak-Period Shoulder Lane Alternative offers bus-only shoulder lanes on State Route 210 from North Little Cottonwood Road to the Bypass Road for peak travel times. With this alternative, bus service is removed from congestion and able to pass slower moving traffic in the general-purpose lane, providing direct service to each destination. Of the alternatives examined, this bus option offers the fastest travel time and the second lowest cost. Meanwhile, pedestrians and bicyclists could use the improved shoulders when the buses are not operating, the agency said.

The Gondola B alternative would construct a base station approximately one mile from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and offer direct service to each destination. Each gondola could hold up to 35 people and travelers could expect a cabin to arrive every two minutes. The Gondola base station includes 1,500 parking spaces, reducing the need for passengers to use bus service from the mobility hubs. It also can operate “independently” of S.R. 210, avoiding delays related to snow removal, avalanche mitigation, crashes, slide offs, and traffic.

The Utah DOT added that while the Gondola B alternative creates the highest “visual impacts,” it minimizes effects on wildlife movement, climbing boulders, and the area’s watershed compared to the other alternatives. It is also the more expensive of the two options – clocking in at $592 million, with an annual winter operation cost of roughly $7.6 million. In addition to the preliminary preferred alternatives, the EIS highlights other elements within the project to support each alternative. These include snow sheds (concrete structures built over the highway to keep it clear of snow in case of avalanches); mobility hubs (larger-capacity park-and-ride lots with transit service); widening and other improvements to Wasatch Boulevard; tolling or single occupancy restrictions; addressing trailhead parking and eliminating winter roadside parking above Snowbird Entry 1.

Tennessee Agencies Work Together to Support Pollinator Species

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, along with the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) and Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), jointly promoted “pollinator health and awareness” in state parks during National Pollinator Week June 21-25.

[Above photo of Monarch Butterfly via Wikimedia Commons]

The 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.

The meadows also assist with TDEC’s Honey Project, which allows the public to purchase honey harvested annually within each park.

“We are excited about this partnership,” explained Clay Bright, Tennessee DOT’s commissioner, in a statement. “This effort is an excellent way to educate the public about the threats to pollinators and a valuable part of our Pollinator Habitat Programming.” 

On a national basis, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sent a two-page letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior in March 2020 supporting “expedited approval” of the voluntary national Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances or CCAA to further encourage the creation of pollinator habitats in highway rights-of-way.

In December 2020, the Transportation Research Board highlighted a bevy of resources available to state departments of transportation to support monarch butterfly habitat and migration support efforts.

To that end, a new report from the TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program – Evaluating the Suitability of Roadway Corridors for Use by Monarch Butterflies – provides guidance for roadside managers to determine the potential of their roadway corridors as habitat for monarch butterflies. The report also includes several tools and decision-support mechanisms to optimize habitat potential in a manner that is compatible with the continued operation and maintenance of the roadside.