Environmental News Highlights – October 20, 2021


Federal, State Agencies Ramping Up Pedestrian Safety Efforts – AASHTO Journal

Democrats Scramble for Climate Options After Manchin Rejects Clean-Energy Plan – New York Magazine

State-level carbon tax climate agreement ‘having a hard time getting off the ground’ – Fox News


TSA says 40 percent of workforce unvaccinated ahead of November deadline – The Hill

Mayor Eyes COVID Vaccine Mandate for Airport Arrivals During Mardi Gras Season – Nola.com

Should Passengers Be Vaccinated or Tested to Fly Within the U.S.? – New York Times

How recovery from COVID-19’s impact on energy demand could help meet climate targets – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis


Udall Foundation and Udall Center Hosting Two Virtual Forums on Engagement and Consultation in the NEPA Process – Udall Foundation


Rural Alaska needs new bridges as permafrost thaws and crossing river ice gets riskier – the infrastructure bill is only a start – The Conversation

Michigan must better prepare for electric vehicles to maintain mobility leadership, report says – Detroit News

One-fourth of US infrastructure is at risk of floods. These 4 states are in the most peril. – USA Today

MBTA plans removal of buses’ overhead wires and a fleet overhaul; transit group isn’t aboard – Cambridge Day

Governor Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Announce Portal North Bridge Project Construction Award – State of New Jersey Governor’s Office (Press release)


Southern New England Lawmakers Rally in Support of Initiative to Reduce Transportation Emissions – ecoRI News

MTD Unveils Zero Emission Fleet Technology – Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District

CDOT aims to be “at the forefront” with greenhouse gas rules that would have far-reaching impact – Denver Post

LA’s Busy Anchorages Attract Environmentalists’ Scrutiny – Maritime Executive

Make electric vehicles lighter to maximize climate and safety benefits – Nature (Commentary)


Native American tribes push to get Biden’s infrastructure bill passed – NPR’s Morning Edition

New York vs. New Jersey: Law, Equity and Politics – Railway Age


A climate specialist sees ‘managed retreat’ from the coast a solution for Long Island and beyond – WSHU Radio

Researchers work to better understand possible environmental impacts of fracking – Scripps Media


Tourism officials say California, Nevada border traffic jams need to be addressed – KSNV-TV

How France Turned the Humble Roundabout Into a Showcase for Art – CityLab


City designs Neighborhood Bikeway in Billings to make biking and walking safer – KVTQ-TV

As e-mobility booms, safety challenges grow – New York Times

WSDOT working to improve state’s sidewalk network, address mobility concerns – KIRO-TV

Separate paths on W&OD Trail for cyclists and pedestrians unveiled in Falls Church – Tysons Reporter

New Underpass For Cyclists And Pedestrians Provides Important Connection In West St. Paul – WCCO-TV

Accessible trail to be added in Waterworks trail renovations in Montana – KWYB/KFBB/KTMF-TV

Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania aims to make streets safer for pedestrians – WBRE/WYOU-TV


Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3 Electric Vehicles Workshop – TRB


National Chemical Transportation Safety Advisory Committee; November 2021 TeleconferenceCoast Guard (Notice)

Announcement of the Board of Directors for the National Environmental Education Foundation – EPA (Notice)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification for a Virtual Public Meeting – EPA (Notice)

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public Meeting – EPA (Notice)

Public Meeting/Notice of Availability for Proposed Air Tour Management Plan at Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Muir Woods National Monument; San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park; and Point Reyes National Seashore – FAA (Notice)

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project in Virginia Beach, VirginiaNOAA (Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal)

WSDOT Culvert Project Keeps Traffic, Fish Moving During Construction

If culverts under a busy state road are clogging a creek and preventing fish from migrating, how do you simultaneously replace the culverts, maintain traffic on the road, and protect the fish during construction?

[Above photo by WSDOT]

This riddle proved a real-life challenge for the Washington State Department of Transportation, which came up with an innovative answer – leave the culverts in place, build a new bridge somewhere else, and move the creek under it.

More than 50 years ago, the agency installed two 8-foot box culverts on State Route 3 over Chico Creek, home to the biggest chum salmon population in Kitsap County. In 2013, a federal court ruled that the abutting culverts were among 1,002 fish barriers in western Washington and ordered their removal by 2030.

The reason is that culverts create a “choke point” for fish – accumulating debris, narrowing the creek, and preventing thousands of salmon from making the annual spawning trek through the creek to the freshwater bay to lay their eggs. Above the creek, about 50,000 vehicles a day drive on SR 3, so a construction plan had to consider travel patterns of fish and motorists.

The WSDOT solution is a $58.3 million design-build project that features new bridges on SR 3 and nearby Chico Way, two realigned ramps, and two engineered creeks beneath the new bridges. The project will keep traffic and fish moving during and after construction.

An engineered waterway like this one for Coffee Creek is being built for Chico Creek. Photo by WSDOT.

Crews building a new SR 3 bridge just east of the culverts are simultaneously maintaining traffic volumes by shifting lanes toward the outside shoulders while the center portion of the bridge is constructed. Then traffic will shift again, to the inside shoulders, while the rest of the bridge is finished. Once SR 3 bridge construction is completed, crews will realign traffic lanes with the new bridge.

Meanwhile, crews are building an “engineered creek” that will realign Chico Creek to bypass the old culverts to pass under the new bridge. Construction work to redirect Chico Creek to the new channel will take place during “fish windows,” when construction work will do minimal damage to fish.

The engineered creek includes native vegetation, strategic bends, and elevation changes designed to support “every life cycle of fish,” said Doug Adamson, a WSDOT spokesman. It will feature places for fish to lay eggs and hide from predators, allowing the salmon to “naturally move” from fresh water to saltwater habitats and back again, Adamson said.

The project also includes a new bridge, two realigned ramps, and a second engineered creek at nearby Chico Way. This work will eliminate fish barriers to an unnamed tributary that feeds into Chico Creek by realigning the tributary and giving it a much wider channel under the new Chico Way Bridge.

The entire project, which will improve access to 21 miles of potential habitat, is regarded as one of the most significant fish barrier removal projects in western Washington due to the number of fish involved and because of the cultural impact to the Suquamish Tribe, whose ancestors have inhabited the area for thousands of years.

The project comes 30 years after WSDOT first created a dedicated program to remove barriers to fish under state highways. Since 1991, the agency has fixed 344 barriers, opening a total of 1,161 miles of fish habitat. “We are opening up dozens and dozens of miles for habitat for fish who couldn’t reach these areas since the highways were first built,” Adamson said. “We are making up for mistakes made in the past. We are working to rectify those mistakes to improve the habitat for native fish.”

Ohio DOT Projects Aim to Curb Landslide Damage

A landslide repair project currently underway on SR 60 in Morgan County, Ohio, is illustrative of dozens of similar efforts initiated by the Ohio Department of Transportation aimed at keeping small landslides from growing into larger ones.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]

This particular $650,259 landslide project – located between Mautz Drive, also known as Township Road 1183, and the Muskingum County line – should wrap up by December 1, the agency said.

Governor Mike DeWine (R) and Ohio DOT Director Jack Marchbanks allocated $35 million in federal funding in June to proactively deal with landslides and rockslides in eastern and southern Ohio. That money comes from $333.4 million Ohio received from the $900 billion Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed in late December 2020.

State departments of transportation received $10 billion of that $900 billion to help defray the loss of motor fuel tax revenues – among other fees – resulting in part from stay-at-home orders issued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a wise investment. If we can address these issues early, we can avoid much costlier repairs in the future,” said Gov. DeWine in a statement.

“Southeastern Ohio is prone to these types of hazards and this effort allows us to minimize the cost and inconvenience to addressing them,” Marchbanks added.

Landslide and rockslide highway repairs can cost millions of dollars and can take anywhere from weeks to months to complete.

There are broader economic impacts from landslide/rockslide blockage of highways as well. A 34-page study conducted by HDR and Decision Economics for the Appalachian Regional Commission in 2010 found that closures of I-40 and US-64 through Tennessee due to rockslides and resulting travel detours imposed $197 million in economic costs on the surrounding area due to extra travel time and additional vehicle wear and tear.