ETAP Podcast Delves into ReConnect Rondo Effort

The first episode of a four-part Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast series focuses on building an equitable transportation system.

[Above photo by ReConnect Rondo]

The ETAP podcast – part of a technical service program for state departments of transportation provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – explores a wide array of environmental topics that affect transportation and infrastructure programs.

During this episode, Keith Baker (above) – executive director of nonprofit community group ReConnect Rondo – talks about the vision driving his organization and the innovative approach it is taking to transform the neighborhood, businesses, and cultural ties on either side of Interstate 94 in St. Paul, which divided the historic Rondo neighborhood during the post-World War II highway building boom.

Those efforts have included a proposal to build a deck over part of the interstate and restore some of the amenities razed during road construction – and it received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in March to do so.

The money will also help coordinate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “ReThinking I-94” project, which seeks to make needed repairs to the highway’s aging infrastructure, while creating methods to reduce further harms caused by the main east-west artery through the Twin Cities.

The goal of ReConnect Rondo is to create a “land bridge” is to reconnect the community split in two by the freeway’s construction in the 1950s and 1960s, in the process destroying around 700 homes and 300 businesses, according to Baker.

The bridge would serve as a cap over the part of the road, between Chatsworth Street and Grotto Street, encompassing what used to be the entire Rondo neighborhood. Baker explains that the proposed “land bridge” could add approximately 500 new housing units, 1,000 residents, and 1,500 jobs, along with $4 million in annual city revenue.

To listen to the entire podcast episode, click here.

Colorado DOT Wraps Revitalizing Main Street Project

The Colorado Department of Transportation recently completed a Revitalizing Main Streets or RMS grant project in partnership with the City of Leadville and the Leadville Main Street Program or LMSP that transformed a “parklet” into a safe, secure and accessible amenity for all residents and visitors

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

The agency’s RMS program funds infrastructure improvements for towns and cities across Colorado aimed at making walking and biking easier, encouraging economic development, supporting community access to public streets and multimodal transportation, and bringing innovative uses of public spaces for people to life.

Those RMS funds are used for infrastructure improvement projects that meet the aim of the program and “shovel ready,” therefore can be completed within a 12-month period from grant contract execution, if approved. To date, Colorado DOT said the RMS program has issued 191 grants.

This new parklet facility Colorado DOT helped the City of Leadville will serve as an “anchor feature” for the community; a facility that includes a handwashing station, pet area, bench, picnic table and bike racks. This parklet is adjacent to the Leadville Lake County Visitor’s Center with adequate bike and vehicle parking to serve residents and visitors.

Through this grant, the LMSP worked in partnership with 10 vital partners and agencies and a group of local volunteers to create a community-driven project; one that included a local artist to integrate the historically bright, colorful look, and feel of the City of Leadville into this new amenity.

“With the approach of working collaboratively with partners, stakeholders and community members, this parklet was able to come to life. This safe space will strengthen the connection of people to Leadville’s main street and other central economic hubs,” said Shoshana Lew, Colorado DOT’s executive director, in a statement.

Environmental News Highlights – September 13, 2023


Eno Center for Transportation Urges USDOT to Begin National VMT Fee Pilot -Transport Topics

EPA delays new air quality standards for ozone pollution until after 2024 election -The Guardian

EPA agrees to protect waterways from harmful ship discharges -Courthouse News Service

Reps. Carey, Blumenauer seek guidance on historic preservation easements -Financial Regulation News

Midwest grain harvests loom. Will a low Mississippi River stall farmers’ deliveries again? -USA Today

Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants –NOAA


Caltrans Funding Sustainable Transportation Projects -AASHTO Journal

Ohio governor announces $100 million to help eliminate dangerous railroad crossings -Plain Dealer

Geology faculty to partner with Kansas Department of Transportation -Kansas State Collegian

New York City’s Battle Against Congestion Begins at the Curb –CityLab

Southern California counties could power 270,000 homes by installing solar panels along highways: report -The Hill

ASU Research Team Partners with EPA to Study Electrified Transit Emissions -State Press

Street layout and available destinations influences urban walking behavior -Medical Xpress



State Climate Commission helps lead the way on clean transportation choices for HawaiʻiMaui Now

‘How’s the air?’ Using AI to track coal train dust -Route Fifty



More small airports are being cut off from the air travel network. This is why -NPR’s Morning Edition

Residents of historic Baltimore neighborhoods call for equity in transportation planning and a moratorium on bike lanes -Afro News

Taking the highway to right wrongs of the past in urban areas -The Center for Public Integrity

How 2 big US transit agencies approach equity -Smart Cities Dive



Can We Make Highways, Roadways Less Lethal For Wildlife? –CityLab

U.S. EPA launches massive effort to clear hazardous materials from wildfire-impacted properties -KITV-TV


MoDOT demolishes historic I-70 Rocheport Bridge over the Missouri RiverKMBC-TV

New bullet trains misfire on old U.S. railroad tracks -E&E Climate News

A debate over historic preservation – and what deserves to be saved –Fronteras


Using Bus Rapid Transit to Maximize Miami Mobility – Engineering News-Record

Electrifying Transit: Best practices and innovative technology for bus electrification success -Mass Transit (webinar)

Rubberized sidewalks popping up in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood -WDAF-TV

E-bikes now allowed on 850 miles of East Bay park trails -The Oaklandside

Portland, Oregon cyclists demand change as traffic deaths rise to 46 -KGW-TV

Beverly Hills closes gaps in bicycle infrastructure -Beverly Press


Highway and Street Design Vehicles: An Update –NCHRP

Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies –ACRP


Official Trail Markers for El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, and the Old Spanish National Historic Trail -National Park Service (Notice of designation)

National Priorities List -EPA (Final rule)

National Advisory Council; Meeting -FEMA (Notice of open Federal advisory committee meeting)

Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Distribution Pipelines and Other Pipeline Safety Initiatives -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Action for the Development of an Updated Facility for the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin -U.S. Geological Survey (Notice)