Environmental News Highlights – July 21, 2021


House Appropriations Releases USDOT Funding Bill – AASHTO Journal

Transportation Stakeholders Renew Calls for Congressional Action – Transport Topics

Congress returns to face big to-do list – infrastructure, social spending, debt limit – MarketWatch

Senate Budget Has Funds To Ensure Infrastructure Works As The Climate Changes – NPR

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: Progressives May Sink Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Without Reconciliation Deal – Democracy Now


Transit systems dangle discounts, new tech as they try to turn the corner on the pandemic – NBC News

Clarence Thomas rejects appeal to halt federal mask mandate on public transportation – Fox News

CDC defends U.S. transit mask mandate as some call for scrapping – Reuters

Transportation Agencies Grapple With Lasting Effects of Telework – Route Fifty


New York Issues $110M to Support Local Transportation – AASHTO Journal

Identifying Communities ‘Most at Risk’ During Evacuations – AASHTO Journal

Senator Collins & Maine DOT Commissioner Van Note Survey Two Planned Infrastructure Projects in Searsport – Senator Susan Collins (Media release)


USDOT, power sector seen as partners in creating infrastructure for net-zero economy – DailyEnergyInsider

“Ambitious” plan to reduce emissions at Pacific Northwest ports open for public comment – KING-TV

Transportation innovations could boost public health – Cornell University (Media release)


How Local Governments Can Spend Their Federal Funds To Boost Equity – Route Fifty

Congressional plan would reconnect neighborhoods like Philly’s Chinatown, fractured by highwaysPhiladelphia Inquirer

Maine joins debate over how to define environmental justice – Energy News Network

PennDOT Releases Transportation Equity Report, Highlights Efforts to Dismantle Systemic Racism and Inequity in Transportation – PennDOT (Media release)


The Challenges with Enforcing the Clean Water Act and Monitoring Pollution – GAO (Podcast)

EU Plans to Plant Three Billion Trees Under Forestry StrategyBloomberg Green

Company, Wisconsin Airport at Odds Over Proposed Trash Facility; Birds, FAA Certificate Among Concerns – WXPR Radio

A concrete solution to fish passage barriers – WSDOT (Media release)


Ohio DOT Unveils Quaker Heritage Scenic Byway – AASHTO Journal

In Metcalfe Park, organizers use murals to build community — and slow traffic – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Pilot Seeks Better Micromobility Safety at Intersections – AASHTO Journal

Will Ohio DOT’s New Walking and Biking Plan Make a Difference? – Columbus Underground

After 5-year wait, bike racks finally being installed in Ventnor and Margate, New Jersey – Downbeach

Drivesmart column: Where do non-traditional ‘vehicles’ fit in on the roads? – Cowichan Valley Citizen (Opinion)

Union County, NJ to be Awarded Grant for Cranford-Elizabeth Rails to Trails Feasibility Study – County of Union (Media release)


TRB Webinar: Public Transit as a Climate Solution – TRB

Infrastructure for a Changing Climate – National Academies

Report Outlines How Public Transit Agencies Can Advance Equity – University of Texas at Austin


Port Access Route Study: Northern New York Bight – Coast Guard (Notice of availability of draft report and public meeting; request for comments)

Removal of the Federal Reformulated Gasoline Program From the Southern Maine Area – EPA (Notification of final action on petition)

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

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Bicycling – National Park Service (Proposed rule)

Ohio DOT Unveils Five-Year Biking/Pedestrian Plan

The Ohio Department of Transportation has unveiled a bicycling and pedestrian “framework” to advance statewide development of active transportation over the next five years.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]

The agency said its new Walk.Bike.Ohio plan – constructed over the last two years based on input from local governments, other state agencies, and the public – seeks to improve mobility, safety, and quality of life as part of “equitable investments” statewide in walking and bicycling infrastructure, maintenance, programs, and policies.

“Nearly one out of every 10 Ohio households does not have access to a motor vehicle, meaning active transportation options like walking and bicycling are necessary to meet basic needs,” said Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement.

“When we ensure that walking and biking are safe, convenient, and accessible options – everybody wins,” he added. “The Walk.Bike.Ohio plan puts us on the right path to do that.”

The Ohio DOT noted that recent trends in safety, health, and demographics highlight what the agency called an “urgent need” for safer, accessible, and more convenient options for walking and biking in communities across the state.

In Ohio, people walking and biking make up about 14 percent of all traffic deaths, despite making up just 2.6 percent of trips to work, with “high need” populations and areas of the state experiencing a disproportionate amount – nearly double – of the severe pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

In 2020, the agency there were 164 people killed and 469 people seriously injured while traveling along or across Ohio’s roadways on foot. From 2019 to 2020 alone, pedestrian deaths increased by 30 percent, with the most notable increases occurring at intersections with unmarked crosswalks (up 600 percent), at unmarked, mid-block locations (up 84 percent), and in circumstances involving speed (up 60 percent).

“Although the publication of Walk.Bike.Ohio is a major milestone for Ohio, it is just the beginning of the work necessary to achieve our vision,” said Jack Marchbanks, Ohio DOT’s director.

For example, an economic impact analysis completed as part of this effort found that existing trips by foot or bike could save Ohioans $12.7 billion in transportation and environmental costs over the next 20 years. Furthermore, in walking and biking rates increase by just over 1 percent statewide, an additional $5 billion in cost savings over the next two decades.

In addition to economic benefits, connected active transportation networks can also play a role in improving Ohio’s ranking of 40th in the United States for overall health outcomes and 47th for health behaviors, which include obesity and physical inactivity.

The Ohio DOT active transportation plan is also an “opportunity” to address growing mobility “needs and preferences,” the agency said. In 1983, about 46 percent of 16-year old Americans had a driver’s license, according to the Federal Highway Administration. By 2014, that number had dropped to just over 24 percent. In Ohio, the number of 16- and 17-year old drivers fell from 84,985 in 2016 to 70,678 in 2020.

Additionally, as the share of Ohio’s population over 65 continues to grow, more state residents may rely on or prefer transit and active transportation options, the Ohio DOT noted.

The hope, said the agency, is that its five-year active transportation plan will serve as a “useful tool” for decision-makers at all levels of government in Ohio as they look at ways to make the state more walkable and bike accessible. “The development of Walk.Bike.Ohio has helped us to establish a statewide vision for walking and biking, informed by practitioners and the public,” Caitlin Harley, Ohio DOT’s active transportation manager. “This plan outlines what Ohio DOT will seek to advance over the next five years in order to improve walking and biking as a transportation option in Ohio.”

Minnesota DOT Launches Statewide Pedestrian Safety Campaign

Reducing fatalities among pedestrians and improving safety for all travelers is the focus of a new statewide safety campaign launched by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT]

The theme for this campaign – “Let’s Move Safely Together” – highlights safety tips that remind people to use extra caution when driving and walking. So far this year, the Minnesota DOT said 24 people have died while walking on roads statewide, while 224 people died in vehicle crashes.

The move follows the release of the Minnesota DOT’s first Statewide Pedestrian System Plan in May 2021 – a plan that provides “policy and investment guidance” to improve places where people walk across and along Minnesota highways.

“One life lost on our roadways is too many. When we work as a team and watch out for each other, we can save lives and make progress Toward Zero Deaths,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the agency’s commissioner, in a statement.

“That means drivers need to slow down and stop for people crossing the road,” she added. “When you’re walking, look all ways before crossing and stay alert because people driving may not see you.”

The agency is highlighting aspects of this safety campaign via its Pedestrian Safety Education website as well via social media channels and through television, newspaper, digital, and radio ads across the state now through October.

State departments of transportation across the country are ramping up efforts to address pedestrian safety needs.

For example, while a report issued in March by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed pedestrian fatalities trended up in the first half of 2020, the report also noted how several state-directed efforts are successfully improving pedestrian safety.

GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report found that the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate increased 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 as speeding, distracted, and impaired driving – as well as other dangerous driving behaviors – increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2020 declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, nine states – Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – witnessed double-digit percentage and numeric declines in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019. GHSA’s report noted that most pedestrians are killed on local roads, in the dark, and away from intersections – suggesting the need for safer road crossings and increased efforts to make pedestrians more visible through improved lighting and other countermeasures.