Environmental News Highlights – September 29, 2021


AASHTO Signs Letter Urging Passage of Infrastructure Bill – AASHTO Journal

Pelosi Says House Will Take Up $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Thursday – New York Times

Here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the House aims to pass – and how it’s paid for – MarketWatch

These Republicans helped craft the infrastructure bill. They might not vote for it. – Politico

States Use Hurricane Ida Damage to Push Infrastructure Bill – Stateline


As COVID-19 restrictions ease, Valley traffic returns and carbon emissions rise – KTAR Radio

SFO becomes first US airport to mandate vaccinations for all workers – The Hill

Longer mass transit commutes in NYC linked to higher coronavirus rates, study says – Staten Island Advance


Idaho law limits how infrastructure bill can aid transit, leaves future riders waiting – Idaho Statesman

New Yorkers sound off at MTA’s first congestion pricing public hearing – amNew York

The case for funding bike infrastructure – Vox

Will controversial Book Cliffs Highway proposal increase tourism or boost oil and gas production? – Salt Lake Tribune

Florida needs infrastructure built to last – Herald Tribune (Opinion)


Gov. Wolf Announces ‘Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2021,’ Calls for Statewide Action Now on Climate Change – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Massachusetts utilities propose plans to ramp up electric vehicle infrastructure – Energy News Network

Growing a zero-emissions transportation network in Cincinnati – GreenBiz

American Airlines Partners with Bill Gates and Puts up $100 Million for Green Tech Research – AviationPros


Why the Most Populous U.S. County Just Ended Oil and Gas Drilling – CityLab

D.C.-area leaders consider prioritizing equity in transportation and land use planning – Washington Post


NYSDOT Wraps Up Pedestrian Safety Improvement Projects – AASHTO Journal

As SUVs and trucks get bigger, more cyclists and pedestrians die on Colorado roads – KUSA-TV

Bike Paths On Super Highways? – EHS Today

Hardly a peep over return of Bird scooters – Columbia Missourian

King County’s Eastside to receive major multi-modal transportation investment – Bellevue Reporter

County considers pilot program to allow e-bikes on Warren County Bikeway – Post-Star

MDOT State Highway Administration Launches New Project To Enhance Bicycle Safety – WJZ-TV

Regional project seeks to improve walking, bicycle, transit options – News Tribune

Chicago looks to add 100 miles of bike lanes by end of 2022 – Chicago Sun-Times

Active transportation requires a lot of planning, preparation – Daily Herald (Commentary)

Agency of Transportation Announces 2022 Transportation Alternatives Program Grant Opportunity – Vermont Agency of Transportation (Media release)


Racial Equity Addendum to Critical Issues in Transportation – TRB

Paths to Biking, Walking Improvements Supported by Wealth of Research – TRB

TRB’s Transportation Explorers Podcast – TRB

Webinar: Transportation Resilience Metrics – TRB

Climate Resilience: Options to Enhance the Resilience of Federally Funded Roads and Reduce Fiscal Exposure – GAO

Fostering Equity in the Practice of Travel Demand Management – Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Link to webinar registration)

Ready or Not, Here They Come: Preparing for the electric vehicle transformation. – Texas A&M Transportation Institute Thinking Transportation podcast


Notification of Public Meetings of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Panel – EPA (Notice)

Request for Nominations for the 2022 Clean Air Excellence Awards ProgramEPA (Notice)

Hazardous Materials: Public Meeting Notice for the Research, Development & Technology Forum – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice of public meeting)

Port Access Route Study: Seacoast of New Jersey Including Offshore Approaches to the Delaware Bay, DelawareCoast Guard (Notice of availability of draft report; request for comments)

Michigan DOT Part of EV Wireless Road Charging Project

A new initiative to develop the nation’s first electric vehicle or EV wireless charging infrastructure on a public road is gearing up in Michigan – and the Michigan Department of Transportation will play a critical role in this new project.

[Above photo of Governor Whitmer via the Michigan Governor’s Office]

The Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot is a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the state’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification that plans to deploy an electrified roadway system that would allow electric-powered buses, shuttles, and personal vehicles to recharge their battery systems while driving – enabling EVs to operate continuously without stopping to recharge.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) noted that the development of a “wireless dynamic charging roadway” would help address range anxiety among EV users while accelerating the transition to all-electric transit fleets in Michigan and beyond.

“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment, helping us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” the governor said in a statement. “This project reinforces my commitment to accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure in Michigan and will create new opportunities for businesses and high-tech jobs amidst the transition to electric vehicles.”

[Editor’s note: The governor also concurrently launched two other initiatives – the Lake Michigan EV Circuit and the Michigan Revolution for the Electrification of Vehicles or “MiREV” – to continue advancing Michigan’s EV and mobility landscape by building out critical charging infrastructure in the state and ensuring the strong pipeline of talent needed for automotive mobility and electrification career pathways.]

“We know the future of mobility involves connectivity and this initiative dovetails nicely with our other successes linking vehicles and infrastructure through technology,” added Paul Ajegba, director of the Michigan DOT. “This is a model we will build on across the state to further promote the governor’s broad and ambitious vision.”

The Michigan DOT has released a Request for Proposal or RFP to implement the Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot along a one-mile stretch of state-operated roadway in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb counties. The firm that wins the RFP will then work closely with the Michigan DOT, the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on this project. Michigan DOT added that, to date, it has activated the largest vehicle-to-infrastructure technology deployment – nearly 600 miles – in the United States, including a first-of-its-kind connected and autonomous vehicle or “CAV corridor.” The agency also noted that Michigan is also home to a diverse collection of automated vehicle and drone testing environments.

Several State DOTs Moving Ahead with Active Transportation Efforts

A number of state departments of transportation are pushing ahead with projects that support “active transportation” activity; a catch-all term that refers to infrastructure development that supports pedestrian, bicycling, and other “active” forms of mobility.

[Above photo by the Utah DOT]

The Utah Department of Transportation recently completed a $415 million I-15 Technology Corridor project that not only expanded highway capacity to support “explosive” population and business growth along the border of Salt Lake and Utah Counties but improved existing multi-use trail systems, bike lanes, and transit capacity as well.

Utah DOT said the incorporation of infrastructure “elements” supporting pedestrian and bicycling activity proved key to the overall success of the I-15 Technology Corridor project.

Prior to construction, active transportation in the area had been poor with at-grade sidewalk crossings and minimal connectivity to existing trails, the agency said. Through analysis and collaboration with multiple agencies, Utah DOT created an active transportation network with shared-use paths parallel to the frontage roads and other streets via the construction of pedestrian bridges and under-crossings.

“The Tech Corridor project was much more than just a transportation project for motor vehicles. Along with it, we now have a great looped bike and pedestrian path on each side of the freeway,” explained Kim Struthers, community development director for Lehi City, in a statement.

“This will allow easier commuting to our employment center by alternate modes of transportation. It will also serve recreational users, and allows bikers, walkers, and joggers to tie into the extensive surrounding network of trails including the Murdock Canal Trail, Jordan River Parkway Trail, and the Southern Rail Trail,” she explained. “A key component to the looped trail system is the grade-separated crossings at the I-15 at the S.R. 92 interchange, Triumph Blvd. and State Street that allow people to get across the freeway and major arterial roads in a much safer and comfortable way.” 

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Transportation is supporting an effort by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to install the next phase of the $13.7 million Congressman Earl Blumenauer Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. During the weekend of October 8, that 450,000-pound and 400-foot-long bridge – spanning I-84 – crews will lift and roll the structure into place.

Following the initial bridge placement, crews will connect the bridge to the north landing as part of the final phase of construction. When complete, the Blumenauer Bridge will connect pedestrians and people biking on NE 7th Avenue between two of Portland’s fastest-growing neighborhoods –Lloyd and the Central Eastside – and beyond. In the future, it will also serve as an important link for Portland’s Green Loop, Oregon DOT said in a statement.

When it opens in summer 2022, the agency said the bridge would also be “seismically resilient” and serve as a backup route for emergency vehicles over I-84 in the event of an earthquake. In addition to the bridge, the project includes two new public plazas and landings on the north and south sides of the bridge.

ODOT supports this effort with the city of Portland as they work to maintain a safe and modern transportation system, part of ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan.

Finally, the Washington State Department of Transportation recently invited the public to comment on the next phase of the state’s active transportation plan. WSDOT – which published part one of its active transportation plan in May – said the deadline for comments on part two of the plan is October 29.

Part one of the plan provided an assessment of the needs for accessible pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, highlighted safety concerns, and detailed the first-ever examination of state right-of-way and its suitability for active transportation. The agency said part two provides an overview of the performance metrics strategy needed to support implementation of the recommendations identified in part one of the plan.

The new phase of the plan comes during a time when motor vehicle crashes resulting in the deaths of people walking or bicycling are occurring at a higher rate in Washington State than the averages for 2010 through 2019. Those fatal crashes made up 22 percent of all traffic deaths in the state in 2020. Early in the pandemic walking and bicycling soared, and WSDOT’s multimodal transportation dashboard continues to show higher use of active transportation than in 2019.

“We analyzed state highway routes in our needs assessment because they now serve as local streets as population centers have expanded. In the past we haven’t had the data to describe the critical characteristics of these highway segments,” noted Barb Chamberlain, director of WSDOT’s Active Transportation Division, in a statement. “We’re now laying out the strategies needed to address the effects of having that mix of uses interacting,” she noted. “We’re especially focused on safety because decreasing the chance of a serious or fatal crash benefits everyone using the system, not just those who are walking or rolling and are more exposed to the consequences.”