Environmental News Highlights – July 20, 2022


Energy & Environment – Are the feds closing the door on climate action? – The Hill

Nation’s governors gather in Portland, Maine to discuss infrastructure, economy – WGME-TV

All Senate Republicans Back Effort to Undo Restrengthening of Environmental Permitting RegsRoute Fifty


FTA Publishes ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter Regarding NEPA and Early Acquisition of Real Property – FTA


Colorado DOT Begins Rural Bridge Replacement Project – AASHTO Journal

New Mexico DOT looking for eco-friendly approach to roadways – KRQE-TV

Md. Senators and Congressman to MDOT: Don’t demolish Nice bridge – WBFF-TV

Georgia partners with firm on electric vehicle charging infrastructure – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Will Los Angeles Join a Ban on New Gas Stations? – CityLab

Electric vehicles and rural transportation: Is Alaska ready? – KTUU-TV

Switzerland will build an autonomous, underground freight transport system – Interesting Engineering

Great Lakes cruise industry rides wave of sustainability – Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (Media release)


Four companies are top sources of US greenhouse gas, methane emissions: report – The Hill

Charlotte mobility plan aims to slash car use, transform access to lower-emission options – Smart Cities Dive

Washington State’s new tax on CO2 emissions projected to add 46 cents per gallon to the cost of gas – Washington Policy Center

Long Haul To Decarbonization For Aviation Industry – Barron’s

Despite Biden Push for Green Transportation, U.S. Trucking Still Drives on Diesel – InsideSources


MassDOT Incorporates Equity Factors into Pedestrian Safety Analysis – FHWA Innovator

How The Ride-Sharing Revolution Failed Passengers With Disabilities – The Verge

Draft Environmental Justice Action Plan for EPA’s Land Protection and Cleanup Programs – EPA (Media release)


Environmental groups allege L.A. River Master Plan was approved without proper review – Los Angeles Times


How the Amusement Park Conquered America – Bloomberg

How to greenify all aspects of your vacation – Washington Post


Brevard County, Florida Partners With Groups To Reduce Deadly Crashes Involving Bicyclists, Pedestrians – WFTV-TV

South Carolina Nonprofit Uses Database To Track Encounters With Motorists And Pedestrians – WCSC-TV

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission wants to make outdoor ‘active transportation’ saferWYSO Radio

Austin transportation department launches pilot program to clear up scooter congestion downtown – KTBC-TV

Microtransit Changes Up the School Commute for Arizona Students – Government Technology

Study Shows Bike Sharing Leads to Higher Property Values – Metro

Des Moines hopes to use railroad tracks to connect Riverwalk to state Capitol – KCCI-TV

NDOT, Community Celebrates Opening of Multi-Use Trail in Caliente – Nevada DOT (Media release)


SEAHIVE – Sustainable Estuarine and Marine Revetment – NCHRP

Considering Quality of Life in Transportation Planning and Development – TRB (Webinar)


Notice of FTA Transit Program Changes, Authorized Funding Levels and Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; and FTA Fiscal Year 2022 Apportionments, Allocations, Program Information and Interim Guidance; Correction – FTA (Notice, correction)

Multistate Conservation Grant Program; Priority Lists for Fiscal Years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022
– Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice)

National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measure – FHWA (Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments)

Request for Information (RFI) on Federal Old-growth and Mature Forests – Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (Request for information)

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles – NHTSA (Final rule)

Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee Meeting – Coast Guard – (Notice)

Evaluation of State Coastal Management Program; Public Meeting; Request for Comments (Michigan) – NOAA (Notice)

Evaluation of State Coastal Management Program; Public Meeting; Request for Comments (Virginia) – NOAA (Notice)

Marine Highway Project Designation Open Season and Renewal of Project Designations – Maritime Administration (Notice)

Air Plan Approval; California; Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District – EPA (Proposed rule)

Air Plan Approval; Arizona; Maricopa County Air Quality DepartmentEPA (Final rule)

FTA Makes $300M in Ferry Grants Available

The Federal Transit Administration is making nearly $300 million available through three competitive grant programs to boost access to rural ferry services, bolster existing and new urban services, and lower emissions across all services by speeding the adoption of zero-emission ferry propulsion technologies.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

The agency noted in a statement that grants are available for those three programs via a single, combined notice of funding opportunity, with the overall funding level coming by way of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, enacted in November 2021

Those programs include:

  • Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program is a new grant program that seeks to ensure states provide basic essential ferry services to rural areas. For fiscal year 2022, $209 million is available.
  • Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program is a new program that provides grants for electric or low-emitting ferries and associated infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or onboard energy storage systems. For FY 2022, $49 million is available.
  • Passenger Ferry Grant Program is an established program for funding capital projects that support existing passenger ferry services, establish new ferry services, and repair and modernize ferries, terminals, and related facilities and equipment in urbanized areas. For FY 2022, $36.5 million is available; of that, $3.25 million is set aside to support low or zero-emission ferries.

Many state departments of transportation that operate ferry services are witnessing a strong rebound in passenger demand.

For example, the North Carolina Department of Transportation recently noted that its four-year-old Ocracoke Express passenger ferry nearly matched pre-pandemic ridership levels over the first two months of its 2022 season despite using a smaller vessel.

The new Ocracoke Express ferry vessel carries 129 people versus the 149-person capacity previous model used from 2019 through 2021, noted NCDOT in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities and the Southeast Conference announced plans to collaborate on a low-emission ferry project in May.

Alternative fuel-powered, low-emission and electric ferries could be a game-changer for Alaska’s Marine Highway System, the agency said, as it starts replacing aging ferry vessels in upcoming years.

Utah DOT Poised to Tap into University’s Trail Study

A team of Utah State University researchers recently explored how to use the state’s network of historic canal trails as an active transportation solution. That study is poised to help the Utah Department of Transportation and community leaders make decisions about building canal paths and trails, USU detailed in a blog post.

[Above photo by USU]

The Utah DOT funded the university’s research project – entitled “Active Transportation Facilities in Canal Corridors” – that the American Society of Civil Engineers subsequently published in June.

By reviewing case studies of existing canal trails – such as the Murdock Canal Trail in Utah County and the Highline Trail in Cache County – and interviewing stakeholders like canal operators and local planners, the USU team found there are many potential benefits for communities who want to build canal paths and trails.

“One potential benefit of creating a canal trail formally is to formalize that use,” said Patrick Singleton, an assistant professor of transportation at USU and one of the project’s researchers.

“A lot of people are using canals informally as trails in some cases,” he said. “And by formalizing that use, there can be some protections for the canal or the property owners along the canal.”

Building bicycle/pedestrian trails alongside open canals or atop closed canals can also create a “mutual interest” between community leaders and canal operators to keep the corridor clean. In the case of covered canals, a trail can help preserve the canal easement and make it easier to repair the canal if needed.

The research found that the primary challenges to building canal trails are land ownership, maintenance, safety, liability, funding and privacy. These challenges can be overcome using long-term planning, stakeholder collaboration, iterative design and active public involvement.

The school’s researchers said they hope this study will make community leaders more aware of both the opportunity and the steps required to help trail networks succeed.