Environmental News Highlights – September 28, 2022


Four Federal Agencies Plan Broad GHG Reduction Push – AASHTO Journal

MARAD Initiates Low Carbon Shipping Study – AASHTO Journal

Biden’s point man on infrastructure law – Politico

Wildfire Smoke Is Erasing Progress on Clean Air – New York Times

DOE and DOT Announce Gabe Klein to Lead Joint Office of Energy and Transportation – US Department of Energy (Media release)


Can E-Bikes Rescue the Covid Bicycle Boom?Bloomberg (Commentary)


Unwinding really backward policy:’ California abolishes decades-old parking requirements – Sacramento Bee

Michigan DOT enters 5-year partnership to build first public in-road EV charging system in DetroitWDIV-TV

In Houston, a generations-deep community is being dismantled by mandatory buyouts. – Grist

Hawaii’s road usage charge for EVs could have twists and turns – The Center Square

US’s Top Ports Face Calls to Go Green After ‘Unmitigated Growth’ – Bloomberg

NJ Transit Advances Zero-Emission Bus Conversion With Design And Investment Planning Study – NJ Transit (Media Release)


California orders 29 hydrogen trains for inter-city services – International Railway Journal

The airline race for a breakthrough fuel to cut one billion tons of carbon is just starting – CNBC

Oregon on track to follow California emission standards – no new gas vehicles sold by 2035 – KPIC-TV

Minneapolis is the latest US city to demand emissions-free shipping – Grist

15 Most Polluted Cities in the US – Earth.org

Amtrak Aims to Achieve Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2045 – Amtrak (Media release)


Biden administration launches environmental justice office – AP

University Program Opens Highway To Success For Drivers With Autism Spectrum DisorderMercyhurst University

DOJ to tackle environmental justice issues that have ‘too long beleaguered’ communities – NBC News


Welcome to the High Desert highway that is one-of-a-kind in Oregon – Central Oregon Daily News

Weed Wranglers wanted for Bloomington Parks and Recreation – WBIW Radio

Delaware Governor, Keep Delaware Beautiful, Delaware DOT Launch Litter Free School Zone ProgramState of Delaware (Media release)


Higher Ground: America’s oldest Black town is trapped between rebuilding and retreating. – Grist


Michigan Governor Unveils Statewide Mobility Strategy – AASHTO Journal

Denver Pedestrian Bridge Closed Because No One Knows Who Owns It – Denverite

New protected bike lanes causes confusion and anger over parking in Tower District – KMPH-TV

New Joe Louis Greenway will stretch through 23 communities, 4 citiesDetroit News

San Francisco May Require E-Scooters To Have Anti-Sidewalk Technology – Route Fifty

DC lawmakers vote to end right turns at red lights; making ‘Idaho Stop’ legal – WTTG-TV

FHWA Applauds RIDOT’s Leadership in Pedestrian Safety and Financial Stewardship – Rhode Island DOT (Media release)


Accelerating Decarbonization in the United States: Technology, Policy, and Societal Dimensions – Public Engagement across the Transmission Development Lifecycle: from Planning to Permitting – TRB (Webinar)

Withstanding Climate Change – Resilient & Flexible Pavement – TRB (Webinar)

The Chemistry of Fires at the Wildland-Urban Interface – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Risks and Rewards for Electrifying Fleets – Association for Commuter Transportation (Webinar, link to registration)

Minimobility: The next big thing in urban mobility? – McKinsey & Company


FY 2022 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for Transit Buses Demonstration and Automated Transit Bus Maintenance and Yard Operations DemonstrationFTA (Notice of Funding Opportunity)

Use of Inland Ports for Storage and Transfer of Cargo ContainersUSDOT Office of the Secretary (Notice of request for information)

Notice of Recreational Target Shooting Closure on Public Lands in the Anderson Butte Area of Jackson County, OR – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Notice of Receipt and Request for Review of Noise Compatibility Program – FAA (Notice)

Delaware DOT Illustrates Resiliency Strategies at Hearing

During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on September 21, Nicole Majeski – secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation – detailed her agency’s efforts to incorporate resiliency into infrastructure projects statewide.

[Above photo by AASHTO]

That hearing elicited testimony from states and localities regarding ongoing implementation efforts related to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, enacted in November 2021.

“Having this bill [the IIJA] finalized gives state DOTs and our contractor community certainty that we will continue to make needed infrastructure investments in the years ahead,” Majeski noted in her testimony. “The $1.6 billion in federal funding that Delaware is receiving through [the IIJA], along with our committed state resources, will allow us to deliver our largest capital program ever of $4.45 billion over the next five years.”

She explained that federal funding would be particularly critical to helping her agency deal with the effects of climate change.

“As the lowest-lying state in the nation, Delaware is seeing firsthand the effects that climate change and sea-level rise are having on our state,” Majeski noted. “We are increasingly seeing roads in our coastal areas overtopped with water not just during significant storms but with tidal flooding on sunny days. We estimate that we have $1 billion worth of infrastructure vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

Secretary Majewski – Senate EPW video still

To cope with such issues, Majeski said Delaware Governor John Carney (D) spearheaded the development of a Climate Action Plan in November 2021; a plan that led to the creation of a resiliency and sustainability division within Delaware DOT to centralize the agency’s efforts to improve the resiliency and sustainability of its transportation network.

“This division is focusing on the impacts climate change and sea-level rise are having on our transportation infrastructure; incorporating resiliency and sustainability measures in the construction and maintenance of our projects; implementing the electrification of our infrastructure and fleet; incorporating the use of alternative energy; and minimizing the environmental impacts caused by our transportation system,” Majeski noted.

“It will guide our work to develop solutions for these impacted areas and lead initiatives such as the broader electrification of our infrastructure to support and encourage the use of electric vehicles in Delaware,” she added. “Newly created formula funding through [the IIJA] will allow us to move forward with these critical projects.”

For example, in March, Delaware DOT initiated a plan to make the state’s road systems more resilient to climate change by tapping into the additional $160 million over five years the IIJA will provide to Delaware’s main highway programs.

The agency also received a $6.5 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in August to begin designing an ambitious plan in the Route 9 area near New Castle. That project would reduce the number of through lanes on Route 9, with that “saved” lane space used to improve pedestrian and bicycle, and bus facilities as well as extra green space.

USDOT, DOE Help Push Sustainable Aviation Fuel Development

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Energy recently released the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge Roadmap as part of what they dubbed a “government-wide strategy” for scaling up sustainable aviation fuel production across the country.

[Above photo by DOE]

That roadmap – a collaboration between USDOT, DOE, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency – outlines actions designed to spur technological innovation to produce sustainable aviation fuel or SAF, reduce greenhouse gas or GHG emissions, and enable the United States to meet its domestic climate goals. It also seeks to position the United States as a “global leader” in the emerging SAF market.  

Made from renewable biomass and other resources, including winter oilseed crops, agricultural and forestry residues, and municipal solid waste streams, USDOT said there is enough collectible biomass available in the U.S. to produce 50 billion to 60 billion gallons of low-carbon fuels annually.

According to a joint USDOT and DOE statement, the SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap aligns government and industry actions to achieve the three major goals of the SAF Grand Challenge outlined by those agencies in 2021: 

  • Achieve a minimum of a 50 percent reduction in life cycle GHG emissions compared to conventional fuel; 
  • Produce three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030; and 
  • Supply sufficient SAF to meet 100 percent of aviation fuel demand by 2050. 

USDOT noted that U.S. commercial aviation currently consumes approximately 10 percent of all transportation energy and is a significant contributor to domestic GHG emissions. SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel, but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, USDOT added – adding that “emerging SAF” pathways even offer the potential for a “net-negative” GHG footprint.

State departments are engaged in similar sustainable aviation promotion efforts.

For example, on September 23, the aviation division of the Washington State Department of Transportation began accepting applications for a new airport grant program that funds sustainable aviation projects.

The agency said in a statement that such projects may include electrification of ground support equipment; electric aircraft charging infrastructure; airport clean power production; electric vehicle charging stations or fuel cell electric vehicle hydrogen stations whose infrastructure may also support ground support equipment and/or electric aircraft charging; and sustainable aviation fuel storage.

Video: Hawaii DOT Talks Transportation Resiliency

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently released a video highlighting how the Hawaii Department of Transportation incorporates resiliency into its infrastructure strategy.

[Above image via AASHTO]

AASHTO’s Transportation TV interviewed Edwin Sniffen, Hawaii DOT deputy director for highways, as part of its “2 Minute State DOT Update” video news series that illustrates how state departments of transportation build, maintain, and improve America’s multimodal transportation network.

During the interview, Sniffen explained what making a transportation system “more resilient” means and how Hawaii DOT incorporates that philosophy into its infrastructure planning, construction, and delivery processes.

Sniffen is a recognized state DOT leader on the topic of resilience. For example, he participated in a knowledge session on infrastructure resilience hosted during AASHTO’s 2022 Spring Meeting in New Orleans.

Moderated by David Sweeney, president and CEO of engineering and architectural firm RS&H, the panel explored how “resilience” is becoming a critical factor in extending the overall lifecycle of infrastructure assets while also hardening them against potential damage from both natural and man-made disasters.

That knowledge session also included Marc Williams, executive director of the Texas DOT; Will Watts, assistant secretary for engineering and operations at Florida DOT; and Aimee Flannery, a surface transportation analyst from the Office of the USDOT Secretary.

Tennessee’s ‘Tire to Trails’ Program Wins Award

The Tennessee State Parks received the Project Excellence Award from the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals for its “Tires to Trails” conducted in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which uses recycled tires in the construction of recreation paths.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals presents this award annually to exemplary outdoor recreation projects and collaborating agencies and organizations that were key to the success. Selection criteria include unique or special circumstances; problem-solving function; level of innovation and creativity; impact or effect of a project; and collaborative team effort.

“This is a wonderful recognition of an outstanding program,” said David Salyers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in a statement.

“We have seen great success with ‘Tires to Trails’ and the award is a tribute to all who have worked to make it successful,” he said.

Tennessee State Parks officials, along with those from the Tennessee DOT, cut the ribbon in June on a new hard-surface 2.5-mile-long pathway made from rubber crumbs derived from old tires at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis.

Volunteers and local contractors collected some 24,000 illegally dumped tires in the area around the park, transformed into “crumbs” by Patriot Tire Recycling in Bristol. That “crumb” material then went into the construction of the park trail.

This is but one of several environmentally focused projects involving the Tennessee DOT. The agency recently expanded its “traditional role” in the Mississippi River Delta Region from building and maintaining roads to include fighting litter, supporting tourism, and promoting economic development. In addition, in conjunction with the Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and other partners, the agency established a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed in March.