Environmental News Highlights – August 18, 2021


Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill, Awaits House’s Vote – AASHTO Journal

AASHTO Lauds Passage of Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill – AASHTO

Senate infrastructure bill could take years to transform U.S. – Washington Post

Top Ten: What You Need to Know About the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – National Law Review


Judge rules Florida can’t ban Norwegian Cruise Line ‘vaccine passport’ – The Hill

Poor air quality causing worsening symptoms for some COVID-19 long haulers. – KSTU-TV

In Philadelphia, Mass Transit Officials Hope Redesigning Bus Routes Will Boost Post-Pandemic Ridership – Inside Climate News


What Cuomo’s Resignation Could Mean for Mass Transit and Infrastructure – WNYC Radio

U.N.’s urgent call for emissions cuts means fewer cars, experts say – Marketplace

‘Hats off’ to CDOT: I-70 reopening through Glenwood Canyon met with appreciation – Citizen Telegram

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Announces Nearly $5 Billion in Resilience Funding to Help Communities Prepare for Extreme Weather and Climate-Related Disasters – White House (Media release)


Hundreds of U.S. cities adopted climate plans. Few have met the goals, but it’s not too late. – USA Today

Here’s what the census results mean for Biden’s efforts to clean up air and water – Grist


Biden’s unlikely plan to use roads to fight racism – BBC

The Infrastructure Bill Is a Trillion-Dollar Test for Environmental Justice – CityLab


AASHTO Suggests Changes to Section 401 of Clean Water Act – AASHTO Journal

Monarch Butterfly Conservation with Arizona DOT’s Kris Gade – AASHTO ETAP Podcast

Connecticut DOT Helping Battle Spotted Lanternfly Invasion – AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence

Klamath Tribes partner with Oregon Department of Transportation on wetland restoration – Herald and News

Destruction of milkweed by New Jersey DOT crews alarms protectors of monarch butterflies – The Record


Biggest Expansion yet for U.S. Bicycle Route System – AASHTO Journal

America’s 690 Mile-Long Yard Sale Entices a Nation of Deal Hunters – Bloomberg


TxDOT working to combat rise in pedestrian, bicyclist deaths on El Paso roads KFOX -TV

Maple Grove project shows how suburban transit stations are morphing into mobility hubs – Star Tribune

Easing parking anxiety: a revolutionary idea – Talking Michigan Transportation podcast

Pittsburgh’s mobility platform aims to expand transportation options – GCN

Louisiana DOTD announces 23 statewide projects to improve transportation for pedestrians and bicyclists – WVLA-TV

NMDOT adopts Pedestrian Safety Action Plan – New Mexico DOT (Media release)


Resilience Research Becoming a Bigger Part of Transportation Planning – TRB


Proposed First Renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Certain Federal Environmental Responsibilities to the State of Nebraska, Including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Authority for Certain Categorical Exclusions (CEs) – FHWA (Notice of proposed first renewal of MOU; request for comments)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Interstate 405 ExpressLanes Project, in Los Angeles County, California – FHWA (Notice of Intent)

Revised 2023 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards – EPA (Proposed rule)

Ambient Water Quality Criteria To Address Nutrient Pollution in Lakes and Reservoirs – EPA (Notice of availability)

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, CA; Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan/Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice of availability)

Request for Applications: The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program Forest Service (Request for applications)

Hazardous Materials: Harmonization With International Standards Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to the 2014 Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction Study, St. Charles, St. James, and St. John the Baptist Parishes – Corps of Engineers (Notice of intent)

ETAP Podcast: Arizona DOT Talks Monarch Butterfly Needs

In this episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Kris Gade, Ph.D. – a roadside resource specialist with the Arizona Department of Transportation – discusses Monarch butterfly conservation efforts; a butterfly species that’s experienced a dramatic dip in population over the past few decades.

[Above photo via Wikimedia Commons]

Once ubiquitous in North America and known by its striking orange and black wings. Monarch butterflies play a vital role as pollinators – helping support healthy plant ecosystems from the Great Smoky Mountains to Zion National Park.

[Editor’s note: In December 2020, the Transportation Research Board published a resource guide for state departments of transportation in their efforts to preserve and expand monarch butterfly habitat and support migration support efforts.]

As the eastern members of this iconic butterfly species prepare for their annual migration to Mexico, Gade explains on the podcast the ways state DOTs are helping support the Monarch’s survival and growth as a species.

To listen to this podcast, click here.

In March 2020, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sent a two-page letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior supporting “expedited approval” of the voluntary national Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances or CCAA to further encourage the creation of pollinator habitats in highway rights-of-way – especially where the Monarch butterfly is concerned.

“The regulatory protections provided by this CCAA allow transportation agencies to continue vegetation management practices with less concern that these actions will lead to an increase in the costs of regulatory compliance if the monarch is listed under the Endangered Species Act,” AASHTO said in its letter. “We see the CCAA as advancing … guidance developed by the Federal Highway Administration on practices to support pollinator habitat,” the group added.

Biggest Expansion yet for U.S. Bicycle Route System

The Adventure Cycling Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials announced the designation of 18 new bicycle routes in five states, adding 2,903 miles to U.S. Bicycle Route System.

[Above photo by WSDOT]

The two groups said the new routes in California, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, and Washington State represent the largest addition to the USBRS to date in terms of both the number of designations and their total mileage. They added that two other routes – one in California and the other in Florida – were “realigned” to improve the bicycling experience.

With those new designations, the USBRS now extends 17,734 miles across 31 states and Washington, D.C., with at least 40 states currently developing U.S. Bicycle Routes.

“Twice each year, state departments of transportation play a significant role in the expansion of the U.S. Bicycle Route System by designating new routes,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director, in a statement.

“This summer, we are not only witnessing the highest number of designations in any single period to date, but we are also seeing why making improvements to existing routes when possible is important,” he noted. “In Northern California, for example, officials realigned U.S. Bicycle Route 50 to take advantage of a new paved path that is making cycling in the region safer and better than ever before.”

“With this addition of nearly 3,000 miles, the U.S. Bicycle Route System continues to pick up momentum — and the growth of the system benefits every person who has, is, or will be traveling by bike,” added Scott Pankratz, executive director of Adventure Cycling. “Adventure Cycling applauds our state department of transportation partners, who understand the role bike travel plays in our national infrastructure, supporting health and wellness, transforming communities, and increasing economic activity across the country.”

On February 23, AASHTO and Adventure Cycling signed a memorandum of understanding or MOU to formalize their 16-year partnership, which seeks to establish more than 50,000 miles of bike routes across the country.