Environmental News Highlights – September 1, 2021


House votes to advance Biden’s jobs and infrastructure plans, breaking logjam – NBC News

Schumer says infrastructure bills edge U.S. close to Biden climate goals – Reuters

Bipartisan infrastructure plan could create over 800K new jobs by 2030, S&P analysis shows – Fox Business

White House taps veteran transportation official to help break log jams at the nation’s ports – Washington Post


TSA sees lowest air travel numbers since May – CBS Evening News

Will the Pandemic Make Los Angeles More Pedestrian-Friendly? – New York Times

Hawaii’s Governor Asks Tourists To Stay Away Because Of COVID – AP

Can Rush Hour Be Banished? – CityLab


Biden’s Infrastructure Bill and the Promise of NEPA Reform – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman


A midwestern town moved uphill to survive the elements. Can others do the same? – The Guardian

Rapidly electrifying fleets: Adaptive planning and a phased approach are key – Mass Transit (Op-Ed)

FAA Invests $766M to Build Safer, More Sustainable Airports – FAA (Media release)


Port of Long Beach completes new all-electric container terminal – Splash

The Best Cities for Low Carbon Emissions Aren’t the Tallest – CityLab

Green hydrogen could be the fuel of the future. Here’s why it’s not yet a silver bullet – CNN

It’s time to rethink air conditioning – Vox (Commentary)


Some Portlanders speak up about environmental justice concerns – KOIN-TV


Utah DOT’s Use of Video to Stop Litter and Save Lives – AASHTO

Wild fire guards should be part of urban planning – The Interior News (Opinion)

Litter push removes 11,000 pounds of roadside garbage in Tucson region – Arizona DOT (Media release)


Minnesota’s Metro Transit unveils rain art at more than a dozen bus, LRT stops – KMSP-TV


Deployment of MaaS/MOD Strategies with Carol Schweiger – ITE Talks Transportation podcast

Cities that favored pedestrians over cars are reversing course – Quartz

Grants aim to improve bike, pedestrian access across Greater Boston – Boston Globe

Abandoned Kansas City Railroad Bridge to Get New Life as Tourist Hot Spot – Engineering News-Record

People with disabilities demand better sidewalks, transit in Snohomish County, Washington Herald


Racial Equity Addendum to Critical Issues in Transportation – TRB

Conference on Advancing Transportation Equity – September 9-14 – TRB

(In)Justice in Managed Retreat as Climate Adaptation – Princeton University (Webinar)

2021 Florida Commuter Transportation Summit – FDOT (Agenda and link to registration)

MobilityXX Presents: Advancing Gender Equitable Transportation for Los Angeles – ITS America (Webinar)


Re-Designation of the Primary Highway Freight System (PHFS) – FHWA (Notice; request for information)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Buffalo-Amherst-Tonawanda Corridor Transit Expansion, Erie County, New York – FTA (Notice)

Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Surveying and Mapping Projects in U.S. Waters for Coastal and Marine Data Acquisition, Extension of Public Comment PeriodNOAA (Notice; extension of comment period)

Safety Zone; Piscataqua River Turning Basin Dredge Project, Portsmouth, NH – Coast Guard (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Manti-La Sal National Forest; Utah; Revision of the Manti-La Sal National Forest Land Management Plan – Forest Service (Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement)

Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Purchase of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles – Postal Service (Notice)

New Law Requires Illinois DOT to Create Performance Program

A newly passed state law is requiring the Illinois Department of Transportation to establish and implement a performance program to improve the “efficiency and effectiveness” of the state’s transportation system. The new law also requires the agency to develop a statewide highway system asset management plan with the goal of preserving and improving the conditions of highway and bridge assets and enhance the existing system while reducing costs.

[Above photo by the Illinois DOT]

The law – House Bill 253 – went into effect immediately and requires the agency to put “equity and data” at the heart of its transportation project planning process; using performance measures to guide project selection and capital investment decisions to increase “transparency” about project impacts and assuring that the benefits and burdens of the state’s transportation system are “fairly distributed.”

As a result, beginning January 1, 2022, the Illinois DOT will be required to select projects for inclusion in their multi-year plan based on a selection process that weighs a variety of factors including congestion mitigation or improved traffic operations, economic development, livability, environmental impact, accessibility, and safety.

“I’m proud that Illinois is a supply chain hub for the nation and this administration is committed to investing in our infrastructure to ensure we maintain that vital role,” noted Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) in a statement. “This legislation will empower the hardworking team at IDOT to ensure those investments go as far as possible. And by establishing a performance-based project selection process, the administration is doubling-down on our commitment to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

“Illinois is the transportation hub of North America. With the distinction comes a huge responsibility that we are investing resources equitably, fairly, and in locations where they make the most sense and do the most good,” added Omer Osman, secretary of the Illinois DOT. “Thanks to Gov. Pritzker’s vision and the support of the General Assembly, we are making historic improvements in our transportation system. Now we will have even more tools that will strengthen our project-selection process and make it more transparent.”

PennDOT Enhancing Litter Cleanup Efforts Through Labor Day

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is expanding routine litter pickup operations statewide through the Labor Day holiday, especially on higher-traffic roadways where volunteer groups cannot safely pick up litter.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

Simultaneously, the agency is echoing calls by Governor Tom Wolf (D) for state residents to help reduce roadway littering – which includes new anti-littering messages on electronic highway message signs statewide through September 2 – as trash pickup remains a costly effort.

“Every dollar we have to spend on litter cleanup is a dollar we cannot invest in our system,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian explained in a statement – noting that her agency spends roughly $14 million annually on statewide litter removal efforts. “We are grateful for the work of our crews and volunteers, though what we really need is an end to littering,” she added.

PennDOT also conducted the Pennsylvania Litter Research Study from 2018 through 2019 along with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

That study – unveiled in February 2020 –  indicates that more than 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads, with the most common being cigarette butts (37 percent) and plastics (30 percent), while plastic film and beverage containers are the most prevalent items – with an estimated 29.3 million beverage containers alone littering the state’s roads.

Alongside PennDOT’s litter cleanup efforts, the Pennsylvania State Police initiated Operation Clean Sweep this summer to reinforce a “zero-tolerance” mindset with litter enforcement and sharing anti-litter messages throughout the year. That law enforcement operation complements a 2018 state law allowing the designation of Litter Enforcement Corridors, which are roadways deemed to have “a high aesthetic or historic value” worth preserving or in need of some additional help with litter issues. Approved segments will be marked with signs to notify motorists of additional litter fines – doubling them for motorists caught scattering rubbish in such corridors, then tripling them if commercial businesses are in charge of litter removal.

AASHTO Hosting Environmental/Sustainability Webinar Series

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Committee on Environment & Sustainability (CES) and its subcommittees are hosting five webinars this September to discuss a wide array of recent trends, including those concerning environmental justice and transportation electrification at both the federal and state level.

[Above photo by the Missouri DOT]

Those webinars will occur each Thursday in September from 1:00-4:30 pm EST, with each session including a half-hour break.

The main purpose is to bring together all of AASHTO’s environmental members to analyze current and future environmental, sustainability, and equity policy efforts at the federal level along with a review of the latest “best practices” in those areas from participating state departments of transportation.

  • September 2: The “Opening Session” webinar will cover ongoing efforts regarding surface transportation reauthorization and include an update from the Federal Highway Administration. To register for this session, click here.
  • September 9: The Environmental Process subcommittee will cover environmental justice projects in both Minnesota and Oregon, as well as engage in regulatory discussion with participating state DOT attendees and FHWA officials. To register for this session, click here.
  • September 16: The Natural Resources subcommittee will cover a variety of topics including reduction of micro plastics from erosion and sediment control products, wildlife crossings, soil reuse, and stream mitigation. To register for this session, click here.
  • September 23: The Air Quality, Climate Change and Energy subcommittee will cover project level analysis and federal updates, as well as moderate a roundtable discussion regarding transportation electrification trends. To register for this session, click here.
  • September 30: The final session in this webinar series, hosted by the Cultural Resources subcommittee, will take a deep dive into post World War II construction and properties aging into National Register of Historic Places eligibility. To register for this session, click here.