Environmental News Highlights – July 14, 2021


AASHTO Updates Key Surface Transportation Priorities – AASHTO Journal

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus backs Senate infrastructure deal, calling for House vote – CBS News

Business groups, unions join together on infrastructure plan – AP

Senate eyes taking up bipartisan infrastructure deal as soon as July 19 – The Hill

The rocky road ahead for the House surface bill – Politico

PHMSA Seeks Ideas to Improve Safe Hazmat Transportation – Transport Topics


Sen. Rand Paul vows to repeal federal mask mandate for passengers on flights – WLKY-TV


Tree Thinning, The Federal Government and NEPA – How It All Works – The Good Men Project


Caltrans Awards Funds for Sustainable Transportation Projects – AASHTO Journal

Solar Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful – Bloomberg Green

Gov. Signs Climate Change Bill to Protect Coastal Communities – WVIT-TV

LAX, Van Nuys Airport To Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles By June 30, 2023 – KCAL-TV

Environmental group sues Gulf, Shell over New Haven oil terminal concerns – New Haven Register


Battery-powered trains could be a climate game changer. Is everyone all aboard? – Los Angeles Times

County plans to lower emissions to comply with Clean Air Act – Austin Monitor

Gov. Burgum wants to get North Dakota carbon neutral by 2030. It’s a tall task. – Grand Forks Herald


ATCMTD Grants Include Racial Equity, Environmental Factors – AASHTO Journal

The Gender Divide in Transport Is Starting to Crumble – CityLab

Memphis pipeline canceled after environmental justice feud – E&E News


Some locals say a Bitcoin mining operation is ruining one of the Finger Lakes. Here’s how. – NBC News

California lawmakers approve more than $60 million budget to fund wildlife crossing projectsKGO

In Wildfire Country, It’s Time to Lay Off the Fireworks – CityLab

Hawaii DOT Outlines Actions Taken To Protect Endangered Seabirds At Airports, Harbors – Hawaii Governor’s Office (Media release)


Brad King: Tearing down some common myths about historic preservation – Muncie Star Press (Opinion)


GTC announces online bicycling map – Livingston County News

How a trail in rural Oregon became a target of far-right extremism – High Country News

Can ride-sharing technology change local transit? Seattle-area county testing app-based bus system – GeekWire

As infrastructure and transportation bills make their way through Congress, demand for e-bikes soar in the US – Greater Greater Washington

Love Them Or Hate Them, Fort Collins Is Going All-In On E-Scooters And Bikes – KUNC

Montgomery County Department of Transportation Commuter Services Participants Win Three Regional ‘Commuter Connections’ Awards – Montgomery County, MD (Media release)


How Technology Can Create a More Sustainable and Resilient Transportation System – ITS America (Webinar announcement)

Webinar: The New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies – ENO Center for Transportation


Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Announcement of Public Meetings; Request for Public Comments – Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (Notice)

Frequently Asked Questions on 911 Notifications Following Possible Pipeline Ruptures – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice; draft frequently asked questions)

New Jersey DOT Launches New Anti-Litter Campaign

The New Jersey Department of Transportation recently rolled out a new anti-litter campaign aimed at summer travelers – the main component of which will be an aerial banner flown over the 147 miles of coastline between Cape May and Sandy Hook known as the Jersey Shore with the message “Please Don’t Trash Our Garden State.”

[Above photo by the New Jersey DOT]

Social media posts will accompany the aerial banner – scheduled to fly every weekend over the Jersey Shore now through Labor Day this year – to help further expand the reach of the anti-litter message among the public, the agency said.

The New Jersey DOT noted in a statement that its crews removed 11,000 tons of litter at a cost of nearly $8 million over the past three-and-a-half years. The agency added that its crews also removed 76,500 square yards of graffiti along state highways during that same period.

State departments of transportation across the country are ramping up similar anti-litter outreach and cleanup efforts.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said that as of May 19, its crews, contractors, and volunteers have collected 6.3 million pounds of litter from along the state’s roads. The agency noted in a statement that 6.3 million pounds of trash is roughly the same amount collected in 2020 and puts the agency on track to surpass its 2019 record, when NCDOT crews, contractors, and volunteers collected 10.5 million pounds of litter.

In April, the Ohio Department of Transportation joined forces with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Department of Natural Resources to conduct a statewide anti-litter campaign – called “A Little Litter is a Big Problem” – to highlight the negative impact litter has on the state’s transportation system, parks, beachfronts, and waterways.

The Ohio DOT noted in a statement that it alone has spent at least $48.6 million to deal with litter since 2011 and that its staff spent 151,410 hours picking up trash in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation launched a new “Clean Rhodes” anti-litter initiative on April 22.

RIDOT, which said it spends $800,000 annually to pick up trash on state roads, noted that the goal of this campaign is to remove 1 million pieces of litter. The agency is also seeking to buy specialized litter removal equipment that attaches to its maintenance vehicles for some $750,000 so it can rake and clean litter from strips of land and other larger green spaces along roads more easily.

Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Transportation recently renewed focus on its “Keep DE Litter Free” campaign. To date in 2021, the agency said its crews collected and cleared nearly 16,000 bags of trash from state roadways – adding to the more than 51,000 bags of trash collected and cleared in 2020. That includes more than 6,800 tires, 3,500 signs, and 250 appliances removed from Delaware roads, the Delaware DOT pointed out.

Utah DOT Protects Reservoir as it Rebuilds Bridge

The Utah Department of Transportation is taking what it calls “significant steps” to protect the waters of the Starvation Reservoir during a U.S. 40 bridge renovation project in Duchesne County.

[Above photo by the Utah DOT]

The agency noted in a statement that the project’s contractor designed special “catch buckets” to capture demolition debris from the bridge to prevent them from entering the reservoir’s waters.

Excavators lower those 16-foot catch buckets, which are then affixed to the backside of the bridge’s barrier or parapet walls. Outfitted with rubber bumpers to provide a secure seal to the wall and to protect against damage to the existing infrastructure, the bottom of the bucket extends to fit under the bridge deck to capture bridge demolition debris.

The Utah DOT noted that the pan located on the bottom of the bucket is watertight and provides connections to a vacuum port, which pumps out the captured water and slurry materials into a vacuum trailer without any of it leaking into the waterway below.

All demolished materials are transported offsite to be recycled or disposed of in the landfill, the agency said. Duchesne County also plans to recycle the demolished bridge concrete for use as base material for future road projects.

In addition to capturing construction debris, Utah is using other procedures to protect both the project’s workers and the surrounding area. For example, crews working near or around the edge of the bridge are required to be in a harness and tethered to the bridge to prevent falling. That includes their tool and equipment as well – especially concrete saws – to prevent them from dropping into the waterway below. Finally, in case of unforeseen emergencies, the Utah DOT developed a water rescue plan for the project that includes life-preserving flotation devices and a rescue boat.