MassDOT Helps Provide Trail Improvement Funding

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently helped provide some $11.6 million in funding through the MassTrails Grant Program to support 68 trail improvement projects statewide.

[Above photo via MassDOT]

Those projects seek to expand and connect the state’s network of off-road, shared-use pathways and trails to use for recreation, exercise, and environmentally friendly commuting.

The MassTrails Grant Program provides matching grants, technical assistance, and resources to individuals, municipalities, non-profits, and other public entities. Funding for those grants come from two sources: The Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation capital budget and Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Program grants, managed at the state level by MassDOT.

Program funds go toward the design, construction, and maintenance of diverse, high-quality trails, including hiking trails, bikeways, and shared-use paths, noted MassDOT.

“Outdoor recreation is directly tied to the economic prosperity of our state,” said Governor Maura Healey (D) in a statement.

“By investing in our trails system, we can give our residents opportunities to get outside, commute for free, and showcase all the natural assets Massachusetts has to offer,” she added. “This is how we grow our economy, cut emissions, and improve health outcomes all at the same time.” 

“Bicycle and pedestrian paths are a key part of … providing safe and equitable transportation networks which support the state’s transit, economic, climate and public health goals,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca.

“This grant money for 68 projects will help cities and towns build out the framework for creating a state-wide trails network and we look forward to seeing the positive impacts new trail construction will have for all those who live in, come to visit, or traverse through our state for work or pleasure,” she added.

Additionally, MassDOT recently announced the new, interactive Priority Trails Network Vision Map for statewide shared-use paths.

That map provides a centralized inventory of key rail trail projects that will help support an envisioned comprehensive statewide transportation trail network.

It specifically identifies approximately 320 miles of trails that have been constructed and are in use, another 24 trails that are currently under construction, plus an additional 60 miles of proposed paths that have been funded but not yet constructed.

The map also lists priority shared-use path project locations that either have been proposed for consideration or will be pursued for funding and development to help address key gaps in the network.   

Maryland DOT Supporting ‘Five Million Tree’ Effort

The Maryland Department of Transportation is “branching out” in its commitment to support the state’s goal of planting five million trees over the next eight years with initiatives that should add thousands of new trees annually statewide via plantings, grants for community-based efforts and programs that encourage support for the Maryland Forest Service.

[Above photo by the Maryland DOT]

The Maryland DOT is one of several state agencies involved in the “Growing 5 Million Trees in Maryland” program; a plan designed to help the state meet its goal to plant and maintain five million native trees in Maryland by the end of calendar year 2031.

The initiative, led by a commission chaired by the Maryland Department of the Environment, stems from the Tree Solutions Now Act, passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021.

“We’re working every day to mitigate and reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation – now and for the future,” Maryland DOT Secretary Paul Wiedefeld recently explained in a statement.

“As we strive to create and maintain a transportation network that’s cleaner and more efficient, our partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders in the ‘5 Million Trees’ initiative will make a generational impact on those goals,” he added.

Maryland DOT noted it routinely plants trees as part of highway, bridge, transit and other projects, but since those plantings largely mitigate the impact of those projects, they don’t count toward the “5 Million Trees” initiative.

However, led by its Office of Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation, the Maryland DOT pointed out that it does conduct other tree planting programs, including:

  • The Urban Tree Grant Program: A Maryland DOT partnership with the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, this program awards grants of up to $5,000 for tree plantings and more than $5,000 for pocket forest projects. The grants can be used by nonprofits, schools, local business associations, youth and civic groups and others, and can help areas affected by environmental justice issues or heat island effect – such as urban areas with little tree canopy.
  • The Tree Planting Donation: Operated by the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles, a division of the Maryland DOT, this initiative allows state residents to make a voluntary donation of $1, or more, when registering or renewing a vehicle registration, to the Maryland Forest Service to plant trees.
  • The Urban Forestry Partnership: Overseen by the Maryland Port Administration, another Maryland DOT division this partnership works with communities to restore tree canopy on streets and parks in Baltimore City. Between 2018 and 2020, the Partnership planted 1,500 trees in neighborhoods across Baltimore.​ 

In April, the Maryland Department of the Environment launched an online “tracking tool” and hub site for tree plantings and planting initiatives across Maryland. From community-based projects to agency efforts, the tool will track the trees and the progress toward the “5 Million Trees” goal.

The hub site also provides a resource library that includes tree planting tips and guides, a map of statewide tree planting assistance and rebate programs, and volunteer and training opportunities to get more people involved in tree plantings across Maryland.

Environmental News Highlights – July 5, 2023


USDOT Issues More Than $2.2B in RAISE Grants -AASHTO Journal

USDOT Offering Over $5B in Multimodal Project Grants -AASHTO Journal

PHMSA Proposes HazMat Rail Shipment Reporting Rule -AASHTO Journal

FTA Announces Nearly $1.7 Billion to Help Put Better, Cleaner Buses on the Roads in Communities Across the Country -FTA (media release)



When COVID rules kept humans home, wildlife roamed more freely, international study shows –CBC



Re:source Podcast: Hawaii Paving Industry Talks Plastic Roads -AASHTO Journal

NYC Is Cleared for First-in-US Congestion Tolls as Soon as April –Bloomberg

Indianapolis Int’l Pioneers Use of Carbon Capture for Runway Project -Airport Improvement

These States Are Doing the Most to Electrify Transportation –Governing


The Hazy Days of Summer -The New Yorker



EPA closes civil rights investigation into Louisiana pollution -Washington Post


Biden administration provides greater flexibility to protect endangered species -The Hill

Legislature overrides veto of bill cutting wetland regulation

Researchers demo geotargeted wildfire alerts sent to vehicles -Route Fifty



Miami Air International Plans A Pan Am Museum In Its 1920s Hangar -Simply Flying

The Forgotten History Of Highway Photologs -MIT Technology Review

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Feds deny Knoxville’s $25 million grant request to build new pedestrian bridge across Tennessee River -WBIR-TV

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Connecticut offering vouchers for residents to buy e-bikes -New Haven Independent

Pedestrians occupying bike lanes on Oahu raising safety concerns -KHNL/KGMB-TV

NYC gets $25M for e-bike charging stations, seeking to prevent deadly battery fires –AP

Street lighting is crucial for cyclists and pedestrians -North Shore News

City holds ‘pop up’ event to get input on Pensacola’s Active Transportation Plan -WKRG-TV

FAA Still Silent on Dulles Airport Noise Concerns –LoudonNow

New U.S. Bicycle Route connects Hope and East Hope, Idaho -Bonner County Daily Bee



TRB Webinar: Fostering Sustainability through Freight-Efficient Land Uses –NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 13: Rocky Mountains –NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 14: Southeast –NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 15: Southern Plains –NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 16: Southwest –NCHRP

Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management –NCHRP

Advancing Health and Resilience in the Gulf of Mexico Region: Roadmap for Progress -National Academies



Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions on the Central Business District Tolling Program, New York, New York -FHWA (Notice of limitation on claims for judicial review of actions by FHWA and other Federal agencies)

Testing Provisions for Air Emission Sources; Correction -EPA (Final rule; correcting amendment)

Pipeline Safety: Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice of proposed rule)

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Experimental Populations -Fish and Wildlife Service (Final rule)

Notice of Availability of Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles Acquisitions -United States Postal Service (Notice)