Environmental News Highlights – October 13, 2021


Remarks by President Biden on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better Agenda – White House

25% of all critical infrastructure in the US is at risk of failure due to flooding, new report finds CNN

Failure on infrastructure will hit local governments the hardest – The Hill (Opinion)


Tulsa Transit is now requiring medical exemption forms for riders who want to go maskless on buses – Public Radio Tulsa

Transportation Leaders Push Transformative Updates Post-COVID – Transport Topics


How Biden’s NEPA plan could change the energy sector – E&E News

Winston enviro chair, ex-Trump DOJ official unpacks Biden’s NEPA overhaul – Reuters


Reports Highlight Growing Federal Focus on Resiliency – AASHTO Journal

Lagging funds leaves Michigan’s aging infrastructure in critical need of funding – WJRT-TV

FAA Invests $479.1M in Safety, Sustainable Infrastructure at Airports – FAA

After biking boom, some cities beef up infrastructure – Smart Cities Dive

Officials outline progress in Cairo river port development – Capitol News Illinois

America’s Ports are Preparing Large Infrastructure Projects – Maritime Executive


Five Midwest States Plan Build-Out of EV Charging Network – AASHTO Journal

Google is updating Maps, Search and other products to help consumers save energy and reduce emissions – CNBC

UTA electric buses being outfitted with air quality monitors for better data, better policies. – KSL.com

Investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is a win for our climate, US workers – The Hill (Opinion)


Study: Black, Latino Bicyclists in Chicago Face More Ticketing and Less Infrastructure – WTTW-TV

New report from Johns Hopkins finds stark transit inequity in Baltimore – Johns Hopkins University

Pollution from freight traffic disproportionately impacts communities of color across 52 US cities – American Geophysical Union


Ship’s anchor may have caused massive California oil spill – AP

New Chicago River Sensors Give Real-Time Updates On Water Quality – Block Club Chicago


Rehab of Former Lackawanna Station in Roxbury Wins Award – TAPinto Roxbury

Have you driven along PA Route 6? Find out why you should – NorthcentralPA.com


More bike paths? Safer sidewalks? Biden’s infrastructure bill has money for them – Fresno Bee

New Haven safety plan would prioritize bicyclists, pedestrians and buses – WSHU Radio

Ohio DOT is working to make dozens of intersections safer for pedestrians – WTOL-TV (Video)

With San Francisco transit still struggling, shared bikes and scooters are booming – San Francisco Examiner

At the George Washington Bridge Casino, Your Bets Are a Bike Ride Away – New York Times


Climate Change and ‘A New Normal of Extremes’ – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations Revisions Council on Environmental Quality (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Fiscal Year 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility (ICAM) Pilot ProgramFTA (Notice of Funding Opportunity)

Release of the Draft Policy Assessment for the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards – EPA (Notice of availability)

Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee (SCAS) Meeting – EPA (Notification of public meeting)

Proposed Consent Decree; Clean Air Act Citizen SuitEPA (Notice of proposed consent decree; request for public comment)

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Long Beach Cruise Terminal Improvement Project in the Port of Long Beach, California – NOAA (Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization)

Reports Highlight Growing Federal Focus on Resiliency

A pair of reports – one from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the other from the Government Accounting Office – highlight the increased focus the federal government is placing on climate change and resiliency within transportation infrastructure projects.

[Above photo by the Illinois DOT]

USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted in a statement that his agency’s new 26-page Climate Action Plan “will help ensure that our transportation infrastructure, policies, and programs will be more resilient to the climate impacts already facing our country.”

That plan calls for USDOT to incorporate resilience factors into its grant-making programs, enhance resilience through the project planning and development process, and improve research on resilience. That plan also calls for USDOT to “ensure resiliency” of its facilities and operational assets while also ensuring the availability of “climate-ready services and supplies.”

Meanwhile, the GAO issued a report in late September that offered 10 options to “further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads” via several resiliency initiatives.

However, GAO did note in its report that such initiatives could create unintended difficulties. For example, adding climate resilience requirements to formula grant programs could compel action but complicate states’ efforts to use federal funds, the agency said.

Despite that, GAO’s report stressed that U.S. transportation infrastructure needs resiliency improvements to ward off the potentially costly impacts of climate change.

“If U.S. roads aren’t built to withstand changes in the climate, they may be unsafe routes for emergency evacuations and expensive to fix after a disaster,” GAO said in its report. “Climate-related damages to paved roads may cost up to $20 billion annually by the end of the century.”

Many state departments of transportation are already incorporating more resiliency elements into their transportation projects to ward off the climate impacts noted by GAO.

For example, Ed Sniffen – deputy director for highways at the Hawaii Department of Transportation – noted that his agency views “resilience” as a way to not only make infrastructure more robust and last longer, but save money as well.

“We’re making sure resiliency is built right into our project planning processes,” he explained during a panel discussion at the 2021 virtual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Washington Briefing in March.

“But we also view it as a way to save on cost. For example, on one project, instead of re-stabilizing slope prone to rockfalls, we extended a tunnel to better protect the road,” Sniffen said. “That cost us $20 million versus $150 million to stabilize the slope.”

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, stressed that each state needs to look at the specific severe weather events that affect their areas so they can tailor infrastructure designs appropriately to maximize resilience.

Where Minnesota is concerned, she said her agency also often considers a “step back” where infrastructure is concerned – for example re-routing low volume roads away from areas prone to flooding rather than rebuild them.

“It is not always about building back better with infrastructure,” Anderson Kelliher said. “Often we need to plan whether it should be there in that location in the first place. That’s why we are really trying to pilot using ‘climate resilience’ in our corridor plans and how to support emergency repairs going forward.”

Oklahoma DOT Names Winners of Student Trash Poster Contest

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation recently announced the 14 winners of its annual “Trash Poster” calendar contest. The original artwork of those 14 kindergarten through 12th-grade students highlighting the consequences and negative impacts of littering will adorn a free 2022 calendar distributed by the agency while supplies last.

[Above image via the Oklahoma DOT]

The Oklahoma DOT sponsors this yearly contest in collaboration with 14 partners including the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

The 14 contest winners will receive a monetary award, a T-shirt and facemask with their design, a laminated copy of their poster, and a state legislative citation of congratulations. The teachers of the winning students will receive a monetary award for classroom supplies and a two-day stay voucher to an Oklahoma state park courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, the Oklahoma DOT said.

“We continue to be amazed by the quality of art we receive from our state’s gifted students and their passion for a healthy, cleaner environment,” said Melody Johnson, Oklahoma DOT’s beautification coordinator, in a statement.

“Their work continues to inspire us in our mission to end littering across Oklahoma. Thank you to all the students for their submissions and to their wonderful teachers for including this important public messaging in their classrooms,” she added.

The agency noted that it spends nearly $6 million annually to combat litter along state highways and interstates while the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spends an additional $1.5 million yearly to clean up trash strewn along the state’s toll road – totals that do not include the hundreds of volunteer hours spent picking up litter across the state every year.

State departments of transportation across the country are engaged in a variety of anti-litter outreach and cleanup efforts to remove trash and debris strewn along state roadways.

The California Department of Transportation recently launched a new public awareness campaign today dubbed “Let’s Change This to That” to help reduce the amount of litter and other pollutants on highways that end up in California’s water system.

Using visual comparisons of dirty and pristine roadsides and landscapes, the campaign encourages Californians to pitch in to keep highways clean and our water drinkable, swimmable and fishable.

Caltrans also recently released a video detailing the progress of its newly established $1.1 billion Clean California program that is tackling the state’s litter problems. Using before-and-after footage from Clean California events throughout the state, the video shows how Caltrans programs are clearing trash, removing graffiti, and clearing overgrown vegetation to help beautify the state’s roadsides.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said its crews, contractors, and volunteers had collected more than 10 million pounds of litter from roadsides by the end of September – close to breaking the state’s record for litter collection set in 2019.  

That announcement came on the heels of the two-week Fall Litter Sweep, which saw more than 418,000 pounds of roadside litter picked up statewide. NCDOT estimates its litter removal efforts for 2021 should exceed the 2019 record of 10.5 million pounds sometime in October.