Environmental News Highlights – October 12, 2022


State DOTs Joining White House Infrastructure Summit – AASHTO Journal

US House Lawmakers Introduce EV Tech BillTransport Topics

$39 Million In Marine Highway Grants Awarded – Waterways Journal

Biden-Harris Administration Launches New Program to Help Communities Seek Infrastructure Projects – USDOT (media release)


Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods – Washington Post

Cities push back against Legislature’s environmental policy preemptions – Florida Politics

California Finds Truck Parking Shortage Complicated by EV Mandates – Transport Topics

Barge Groundings Create Headaches on the Lower Mississippi – Maritime Executive

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $2 Billion from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Finance Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure – USDOE (media release)

FAA, Universities Pursue Critical Research to Achieve U.S. Aviation Climate Goals – FAA (media release)


Feds Open More Funding for Diesel School Bus Phase-out – Route Fifty

Vermont’s new ‘Replace Your Ride’ funds cleaner transportation options – Vermont Business Magazine


Six State DOTs Sign ‘Equity in Infrastructure’ Pledge – AASHTO Journal

As EVs Become More Mainstream in NC, Equal Access is Critical – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (blog)


Forest Service reactivates planning for West Yellowstone-area timber project – Bozeman Daily Chronicle

The Dreadful Toll of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions – and What We Can Do About It – Governing (commentary)

EPA Highlights Boston Harbor as a National Success Story to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act – EPA (media release)


Tribes ask US Supreme Court to hear case over destruction of sacred site near Mount Hood – Oregon Capital Chronicle

Restored rock road sign in Halifax County dates back to era of George Washington – Gazette-Virginian


Connecticut DOT Awards Grant for Pedestrian Study – AASHTO Journal

California Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Jaywalking – Fox News

KDOT grants almost $30 million for “transportation alternative” projects – KSNW-TV

Proposed bicycle-pedestrian bridge over Potomac receives $20 million in federal funding – ARLnow

In Times of Crisis, Bikeshare Rolls OnBloomberg CityLab

St. Louis mayor proposes $40M to make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists – KSDK-TV

Caltrans Identifies Locations to Increase Safe Walking and Bicycling Options for Communities Statewide – California DOT (media release)

USDOT Marks the Start of National Pedestrian Safety Month, Stresses the Need to Protect Vulnerable Road Users – USDOT (media release


Preparing the Next Generation of Airport Industry Professionals – TRB (webinar)

Historic Damage in Wake of Hurricane Ian – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Should Coastal Communities Rebuild or Retreat After Hurricane Ian? – Columbia University

Demand-driven design of bicycle infrastructure networks for improved urban bikeability – Nature Computational Science


Environmental Justice Scorecard Feedback Council on Environmental Quality (Notice of extension for request for information)

Air Plan Approval; Louisiana; Repeal of Excess Emissions Related Provisions – EPA (Final rule)

Local Government Advisory Committee and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee: Request for Nominations – EPA (Notice of request for nominations)

Notification of a Public Meeting of the Chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and CASAC Ozone Review Panel – EPA (Notice)

Request for Information: Better Indoor Air Quality Management To Help Reduce COVID–19 and Other Disease Transmission in Buildings: Technical Assistance Needs and Priorities To Improve Public Health – EPA (Request for information through public comment)

Good Neighbor Environmental Board – EPA (Notice of meeting)

Proposed Policy on Enabling the Use of Unleaded Aviation Gasoline in Piston Engine Aircraft and Aircraft Engines Through the Fleet Authorization Process – FAA (Notice of availability; request for comments)

National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council – Forest Service (Solicitation for members)

FHWA Helps Initiate $1B Fish Passage Program

The Federal Highway Administration, along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, recently made $1 billion in grants available over the next five years via a new “fish passage” program established by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.

[Above photo by the WSDOT]

Formally entitled the “National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration-Culvert Aquatic Organism Passage” program, it seeks to help communities remove and repair culverts found under roads that can prevent fish passage. FHWA said the program’s aim is to help state, local, and tribal governments protect local economies that count on healthy fisheries while also making key roads less prone to flooding.

“Many tribal and underserved coastal communities depend on thriving fish populations for their livelihoods, and this program, which will remove, replace, and repair harmful culverts, will improve the natural environment and the economic wellbeing of Tribal, coastal, and low-lying communities,” said Stephanie Pollack, FHWA’s acting administrator, in a statement.

“[These] grants will both help restore fish populations and make roads more durable and resilient to climate events, creating cascading benefits for communities that rely on the fisheries economy,” she added.

The agency explained that barriers to freshwater migration are a major cause of declining populations of anadromous fish, which live primarily in the ocean, but return to freshwater streams to spawn. This fish passage program seeks to help remove or redesign culverts and “weirs” that create such barriers, allowing anadromous fish populations – including salmon, sturgeon, lamprey, shad, and river herring – to access freshwater habitats for spawning.

FHWA noted that a “weir” allows for the controlled passage of water over a low-headed dam, while a culvert allows for the subterranean passage of water through a channel underneath an obstacle, such as a road.

Tribes, state, and local governments can apply for a portion of the $196 million of fiscal year 2022 funding currently available through this new program via a notice of funding opportunity issued by FHWA on October 6.

Across the country, state departments of transportation regularly provide support to a wide variety of efforts aimed at protecting numerous wildlife species and their habitats – such as birds, pollinating insects, bats, cactus, and of course fish.

For example, the Arizona Department of Transportation recently illustrated in an April blog post how ‘biomonitor’ teams from Northern Arizona University or NAU help the agency’s crews find and relocate endangered species – including snakes, birds, and fish – from construction sites.

Specifically, those biomonitor teams train construction workers and others involved in transportation projects to identify any endangered species and what to do if they come across one. The teams also monitor construction activity and help safely remove any endangered species out of harm’s way.

In terms of fish protection, the Washington State Department of Transportation went so far as to build an “engineered creek” to provide a better and safer avenue to spawning areas.

The engineered creek includes native vegetation, strategic bends, and elevation changes designed to support “every life cycle of fish,” WSDOT explained. It features places for fish to lay eggs and hide from predators, allowing the salmon to “naturally move” from freshwater to saltwater habitats and back again.

University Ecologists Studying Idaho’s Roadside Vegetation

Ecologists at Idaho State University are working with the Idaho Transportation Department to turn state roadsides into veritable “Swiss army knives” of vegetation so they are both more fire-resistant and more welcoming to pollinating insects.

[Above photo by Idaho State University]

Joshua Grinath, assistant professor of community and global change ecology at the school, and his students recently wrapped up the first growing season at three experimental sites along I-15 in Eastern Idaho.

They are working with three different types of ecosystems at those sites, figuring out how to make the land more hospitable to native plants and less so for invasive weeds. That research also includes increasing the habitat’s fire resistance, while becoming a more attractive habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.

[Editor’s note: In a July 2021 episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Matthew Quirey – a  landscape design and research fellow with The Ray – explained how roadside landscapes, more often termed the “right-of-way,” are now being viewed as “habitat assets” instead of maintenance burdens among state departments of transportation.]

Grinath’s research team is testing how different combinations of mowing, herbicide treatments, and seed applications can improve native plant survival in those roadside locales.

This research received its primary funding via a grant from the Idaho Transportation Department, with additional funds supplied by ISU’s College of Science and Engineering, as well as the school’s Office for Research.

In September, the team received additional funding to test how adding certain types of bacteria, fungi, and micronutrients to the soil may improve restoration.

“Roadside management is most commonly focused on a single issue, such as erosion control, but other challenges may be able to be addressed simultaneously,” Grinath explained in a blog post. “Considering these issues simultaneously will help Idaho Transportation Department save taxpayers money and address urgent land management concerns.”