Environmental News Highlights – August 17, 2022


AASHTO Comments on Clean Water Certification Rule – AASHTO Journal

What Scientists Say about the Historic Climate Bill – Scientific American

Is the climate bill ‘historic’? Maybe not, historians say. – E&E News

The E-Bike Tax Credit Is Only Mostly Dead As Supporters Plot Next Steps – The Verge

FHWA Announces Final Rule to Reduce Roadway Fatalities in Dark Conditions by Improving Visibility with Retroreflective Pavement Marking – FHWA (Media release)

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More than $3 Billion in Funding for Two FEMA Programs to Increase Climate Resilience Nationwide – FEMA (Media Release)


The Pandemic Wasn’t Supposed to Hurt New York Transit This Much – New York Times

How global COVID-19 pandemic restrictions shed light on the relationship between transport and air pollution – University of Melbourne


Delaware launches initiative to expand electric vehicle charging – WHYY

New York City EV pilot may lead to 10,000 on-street chargers by 2030electrive.com

California’s first ‘inland port’ to be built in Kern County – KERO-TV

Satellites Monitor Tiny Roadway Changes Along Texas Highway – Government Technology

Transportation recovery after disasters: A collaborative university/community model – National Institute for Transportation and Communities

Gov. signs infrastructure bond bill, with some amendments and vetoes – Massachusetts Municipal Association


Electric Vehicles and State DOTsAASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

Are electric trucks zero-emission vehicles? – FreightWaves

The new climate bill abandoned the type of electric vehicle that can make the biggest differenceElectrek


New Jersey Debates ‘Overburdened’ in Environmental Justice Rule – Bloomberg Law

Does the Climate Bill Throw Environmental Justice Under the Bus? – The Nation


Outsmart Vegetation-Related Power Outages – T&D World


Illinois DOT to remove unmarked gravesites to complete upgrades to I-64 in Metro East – KMOV-TV

Iowa’s first dual-language road signs added to US Highway 30 near Meskwaki Settlement – Des Moines Register

Law Department predicts challenges ahead for equity-based preservation programs – Austin Monitor

NYC’s public spaces are becoming increasingly hostile toward homeless people – City & State New York

Artwork In Northeast Kansas City Aims To Improve Pedestrian Safety – KSHB-TV

Our national parks still need fixing – The Hill (Opinion)


Houston’s new funding formula for building bike lanes – Axios

A neighborhood fights to be heard as Dulles planes drown out daily life – Washington Post

Can Greater Access to E-Bikes Get More People Biking? – Portland State University


Adaptive Flood Relief Techniques to Enhance Resiliency – TBR (Webinar)

Climate Conversations: Wildfire – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


FY 2022 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Mobility, Access, & Transportation Insecurity: Creating Links to Opportunity Demonstration Research: Program Lead – FTA (Notice)

National Chemical Transportation Safety Advisory Committee; Vacancies – Coast Guard (Request for applications)

Safe Loading, Safe Powering and Flotation Compliance Guidance for Electrically Powered Recreational Vessels Policy Letter – Coast Guard (Notice of availability and request for comments)

The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest (e-Manifest) System Advisory Board; Notice of Public Meeting – EPA (Notice)

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines; New Source Performance Standards for Stationary Internal Combustion Engines; Court Vacatur – EPA (Final rule)

Proposed Settlement, Clean Water Act Claim – EPA (Notice; request for public comment)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public Meeting EPA (Notification)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Future Wind Energy Development in the New York Bight; Extension of Comment Period – Bureau of Ocean Energy (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Line 5 Tunnel Project, Mackinac and Emmet Counties, Michigan – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Notice of intent)

Bureau of Land Management Request for Information on Federal Old-Growth and Mature Forests – Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (Request for information; Extension of comment period)

Joint Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Energy Project; Notice of Availability of Record of Decision Supplements – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice)

Maryland DOT Archeologists Excavate Iron Furnace Site

Archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation are helping excavate two small Colonial-era cabins near the historic Elkridge Furnace in Howard County, MD, located on land originally purchased for a highway project.

[Above photo by the Maryland DOT]

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Elkridge iron furnace –– used enslaved, indentured, and convict labor. Its use of slave labor is why it is now part of the U.S. National Park Service’s “Underground Railroad Network to Freedom,” which chronicles the history of slavery in the United States.

Iron furnaces used intense heat to convert iron ore into “pig iron” which could then be made into tools, wagon wheels, and other iron-based products. The white-hot fires required for this conversion made them labor-intensive and dangerous places to work.

This $50,000 archaeological project is a partnership between Maryland DOT and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources or DNR. The Maryland DOT’s State Highway Administration originally owned the land in conjunction with its construction of nearby I-195 but later conveyed it to DNR to save the historic complex.

The excavation team – led by Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Maryland DOT’s chief of cultural resources – uncovered brick floors, stone foundations, and various artifacts. Archaeologists hope to determine the age of the buildings and their relationship to the historic iron furnace.

Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Maryland DOT’s chief of cultural resources, describing finds at the site

“Archaeology is our last chance to understand the lives of these iron furnace workers who endured horrific conditions,” said Dr. Schablitsky in a statement. “We are piecing together their life one ceramic sherd and lost button at a time.”

“This latest partnership between MDOT and DNR shows our shared commitment to collaborate with fellow agencies and the community to discover and preserve one of Maryland’s greatest assets: our history,” added MDOT Secretary James F. Ports Jr.

The agency said any archaeological findings found at the site would become part of “interpretive materials” used by DNR, with the investigation also helping guide DNR’s work to restore the buildings. In the future, DNR and an on-site restaurant – Elkridge Furnace Inn – hope to use the archaeological discoveries to share the history of the site and the lives of the ironworkers with the public.

“As stewards of Maryland’s natural and cultural resources, we are proud to partner with MDOT and support this archaeological work,” DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “Having this information on the Elk Ridge Furnace site is invaluable as we work to interpret the important history of the Underground Railroad and convey what life was like during our nation’s early Industrial Revolution.”

This effort follows a previous dig conducted by Maryland DOT’s archeological team in 2021 that helped discover a historic home site once owned by the father of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who helped slaves escape north via the Underground Railroad.

The agency’s team discovered the former home of Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, on property acquired in 2020 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or USFWA as an addition to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, MD.

NCDOT Hydraulics Unit Wins Water Quality Award

The hydraulics unit of the North Carolina Department of Transportation recently won a 2022 Pelican Award from the North Carolina Coastal Federation for its efforts to both protect and improve coastal water quality.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

The Pelican Award honors volunteers, businesses, agencies, and organizations that go “above and beyond” to ensure a healthy North Carolina coast for future generations.

The Federation commended the NCDOT team – one of three winners of Pelican wards this year – for its dedicated advancement of nature-based resilience initiatives, such as its work on the living shoreline project along N.C. 24. That project is part of NCDOT’s effort to make more than 500 miles of coastal roads resilient to storms using nature-based solutions.

“The [NCDOT hydraulics] unit is on the cutting edge of research and advancement of effective stormwater management,” the Federation said in a press release about the 2022 Pelican Award winners.

The Hydraulics Unit has collaborated with the N.C. Coastal Federation for more than 20 years on various projects and educational opportunities.

“We both want to protect our environment, ensure our economy is thriving, and ensure those special areas of our state where people want to visit, work, and play remain accessible,” said NCDOT Hydraulics Engineer Stephen Morgan in a statement.

The unit also received recognition for helping develop the “nature-based” Stormwater Strategies Action Plan released by the Federation and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2021.

“I want to thank the great work of my staff, who – alongside our partners at the Federation – leveraged resources, expertise, and educational opportunities to make our projects truly successful for all involved,” NCDOT’s Morgan said. “We were very excited to receive the Pelican Award and look forward to continuing our efforts with this important work.”