Environmental News Highlights – August 31, 2022


AASHTO Responds to Proposed NEVI Program Rulemaking – AASHTO Journal

USDOT Provides List of its Justice40 Initiative Programs – AASHTO Journal

Federally Funded Research to be Free and Publicly Accessible Under New White House Guidance – Nextgov

The EPA Just Quietly Got Stronger – The Atlantic

What is a 1,000-year flood? – US Geological Survey

COVID-19 Travel Reductions: Lessons for Relieving Traffic Congestion – Minnesota DOT

California’s public bus and urban transit workers have caught COVID at a rate more than 5 times higher than all other industries, CDC report says – Business Insider

Cyclists, Pedestrians and Motorists Clash Over COVID Street Changes – Pew

Why Doesn’t America Build Things? – Vice


Oklahoma, Arkansas Forge Regional Mobility Hub Partnership – AASHTO Journal

Oregon DOT wants to use right-of-way for landslide control – News Times

Government Electric Vehicle Efforts Requires New Charging Infrastructure – Nextgov

Hundreds Sound Off at 1st Public Meeting Over Controversial Congestion Pricing Plan – WNBC-TV

Losing Your Neighborhood to Climate Change Is Sometimes Necessary – New York Times (Opinion)


DC region leaders want to halve transportation emissions by 2030 despite road widening plans – Virginia Mercury

Could An Air Traffic Control System For The Oceans Help Cut Carbon Emissions? – Forbes

NREL’s 6th Partner Forum Digs Deep on Sustainable Aviation Opportunities – National Renewable Energy Laboratory

USDA Begins Accepting Applications for $100 Million in Biofuel Infrastructure Grants – Department of Agriculture (Media release)


Colorado Travel Website Designed To Cater To People With Disabilities, Mobility Limitations – OutThere Colorado

Transit Equity Builds Communities – The Wilderness Society (blog)

TDOT Makes Accessibility Improvements at Tennessee Rest Areas and Welcome Centers Tennessee DOT – (Media release)


Bloomington Parks and Recreation looking for Weed Wranglers – WBIW Radio


NYC DOT Reinstalls Chinatown Bilingual Street Signs – Bowery Boogie


First coast-to-coast trail would be boon for Indiana pathways – News and Tribune

How Five U.S. Cities Built 335 Miles of Bike Lanes in 24 Months – Next City

Fully accessible trail coming to Burlington County, New Jersey – Burlington County Times

Indiana NAACP leaders express concerns over new infrastructure plan – WFIE-TV


A Marathon, Not a Sprint’ – How Can Cities Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Also Improve Mobility? – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


Removal of the Reformulated Gasoline Program From the Southern Maine Area – EPA (Final rule)

Request for Nominations of Candidates for the National Environmental Education Advisory Council – EPA (Notice)

Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee; Solicitation for Nominations – Office of the Secretary USDOT – (Solicitation of memberships for appointment)

Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Final rule)

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program and Policy GuideFEMA (Notice, request for comments)

Port Access Route Study: The Pacific Coast From Washington to California – DHS (Notice of availability of draft study and request for comments)

Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group; Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Phase 2 Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #7.1: Terrebonne HNC Island Restoration ProjectDepartment of the Interior (Notice of availability; request for public comments)

Tribal Tourism Grant Program; Solicitation of Proposals Bureau of Indian Affairs (Notice)

Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (Final rule)

Request for Statements of Interest Regarding the WAPA Transmission System in the Area of Boulder City, Nevada – Western Area Power Administration (Request for statements)

Public Meeting of the National Geospatial Advisory CommitteeGeological Survey (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Amend the Taos Resource Management Plan and Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Recreational Shooting Range Project on Public Lands in Santa Fe County – Bureau of Land Management (Notice of intent)

Establishing an Advisory Council Pursuant to the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and Solicitation for Applications for the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council – Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (Notice of solicitation)

Tennessee DOT Promoting Delta Region via New Partnership

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is expanding its traditional role in the Mississippi River Delta Region from building and maintaining roads to include fighting litter, supporting tourism and promoting economic development.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The Tennessee Delta Alliance or TDA, a partnership between Tennessee DOT and the University of Memphis, is the agency’s latest investment in West Tennessee and one which will “benefit generations to come,” explained Butch Eley, the agency’s commissioner, in a statement.

Tennessee DOT provided the university with a three-year, $675,904 grant to kickstart the partnership. Organizationally, the alliance will be part of the university’s Center for Regional Economic Enrichment, the agency said.

The plan is for TDA to eventually manage the roadway and promote economic development in the Delta counties, an area that includes downtown Memphis and economically distressed rural communities, according to Michael McClanahan, transportation manager in Tennessee DOT’s highway beautification office.

The alliance also will establish a regional, water-based Keep America Beautiful affiliate along Tennessee’s portion of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

“This is really innovative,” McClanahan said. “There are about 200 scenic byways, but this is the first one that will be a Keep America Beautiful affiliate.”

The road along both sides of the Mississippi River is a part of a 3,000-mile route from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the Federal Highway Administration has only added certain portions of that road to its National Scenic Byways program. In 2021, the FHWA did designate the Tennessee portion of the route as an All-American Road for its historic and cultural intrinsic qualities.

The TDA is just getting started, McClanahan added and is trying to hire an executive director to run the byway organization and appoint advisory council members from the counties along the river.

The TDA will be part of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, a 10-state organization that works to preserve and enhance the cultural and historic aspects of the parkway areas, addresses environmental issues, coordinates marketing materials, and looks for ways to promote regional tourism through events and links to hiking and pedestrian trails.

This is but one of several Tennessee DOT initiatives aimed at helping clean up state waterways and improve aquatic ecosystems.

For example, in March, the agency teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

Seabin devices work continuously to skim and collect marine debris from the surface of the water. Each receptacle can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris annually, while also filtering out gasoline, oils, and “micro-plastics” from the water.

Grants from the Tennessee DOT and the national Keep America Beautiful organization provided the funds supporting this deployment of the Seabin devices.

Additionally, in April 2021, the agency provided the Tennessee Aquarium grants to establish two new exhibits illustrating how microplastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.

The new exhibits – housed in the Aquarium’s “River Journey” and supporting the Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter reduction campaign – include actual debris taken from the banks of the Tennessee River.

Maryland DOT, USACE Join Forces on Chesapeake Bay Project

The Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of Transportation recently signed a Project Partnership Agreement or PPA to work together on the $4 billion Mid-Chesapeake Bay ecosystem restoration project.

[Pictured left to right in photo above: William Doyle; director of the Maryland Port Administration; Maryland DOT Secretary James Ports, Jr.; and Colonel Estee Pinchasin, USACE Baltimore District commander. Photo by the USACE.]

The PPA outlines the roles, responsibilities, and financial obligations of both partners for the restoration of both James and Barren islands in Dorchester County, beneficially re-using material dredged from the Port of Baltimore approach channels and the Honga River, respectively.

The Mid-Bay project includes restoration of 2,072 acres of lost remote island habitat on James Island and 72 acres of remote island habitat on Barren Island. Habitat may include submerged aquatic vegetation, mudflat, low marsh, high marsh, islands, ponds, channels, and upland areas.

USACE said it received more than $80 million in funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021 to complete the design and preconstruction activities for this project.

Based on the current schedule, Barren Island may start to accept dredged material as early as 2024 with James Island accepting material sometime in 2030 after finishing construction of dredged material containment facilities at each location.

The Mid-Bay project should wrap up in 2067 – providing more than 40 years of capacity to place almost 100 million cubic yards of dredged material, USACE said.

“It’s an honor to sign this agreement signifying ‘all systems go’ for this critically important project that will provide so many environmental benefits for Maryland,” said Maryland DOT Secretary James Ports Jr., in a statement.

“Rebuilding James and Barren islands will promote wildlife, restore coastal shorelines, and provide us with a long-term placement site for dredged material from port shipping channels, allowing us to accommodate larger ships bringing more cargo and business to Maryland,” he said.

Every year, USACE dredges nearly five million cubic yards of material from the channels and anchorages serving the Port of Baltimore to maintain current depths and widths for safe navigation. Once removed, the material must be contained or disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner.

“With this project, we hope to build upon the success of Poplar Island,” said Col. Pinchasin. “The habitat we restored and created using dredged material is flourishing.”

“We are very excited to work closely with Col. Pinchasin and her outstanding team at the Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, on this legacy initiative,” added MPA Director William Doyle.

Concurrently, Governor Larry Hogan (R) announced a “historic agreement” to advance a major dredging project at the Port of Salisbury, with dredged material supporting wildlife habitats near that port.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

A new memorandum of understanding between Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Wicomico County will provide for 137,000 cubic yards of material dredged from the port for re-use to benefit over 70 acres on DNR’s Deal Island Wildlife Management Area.

That material will help restore wetlands, preserve natural habitats, and protect infrastructure along the Manokin River to keep pace with rising sea levels.

“The dredging material will be beneficially used and re-used, and the project will provide for local wetlands restoration, and the creation of vital wildlife habitat,” the governor said in a statement. “I want to thank our team at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, along with our partners in Wicomico County, the City of Salisbury, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for working together toward this collaborative solution.”

“As the second largest port in our state, the Port of Salisbury is critically important to our economy, and was at risk due to a severe need for dredging,” said DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddway-Riccio. “This unique partnership is allowing us to complete this necessary project while using the dredge material to the benefit of our wetlands and wildlife.”