Environmental News Highlights – November 2, 2022


Dr. Shawn Wilson, Louisiana DOTD: Making the Most of Transportation Change – AASHTO Magazine

FHWA Issues New Vulnerable Road Users Guidance – AASHTO Journal

Biden has ambitious infrastructure goals. Made-in-America rules could slow them. – Vox

Climate Change Realities Drive Federal Resilience Planning – Pew

Feds Call for State-Local Cooperation on Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety – Route Fifty


MassDOT offers jobs back to some workers fired over COVID vaccine mandate – WBZ-TV

FAA Ends COVID Minimum International Flight Waiver at NY, DC Airports – Reuters


Transportation Electrification: Where We Are And Where We’re Headed – Nick Nigro, Atlas Public Policy – ITE Talks Transportation (podcast)

How pavement can help cool overheated cities, even in chilly MassachusettsWBUR Radio

Appalachian Regional Port looking toward expansion as growth continues in Northwest Georgia – Polk County Standard Journal

10 years after Sandy, Hudson River tunnel just as vulnerable to flooding – and a fix isn’t coming until 2038 – Gothamist

Renters face charging dilemma as U.S. cities move toward EVs – AP

North Carolina Moves to Electrify Trucks and Buses, Gaining Economic and Environmental Advantages – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (commentary)

Four Regions Of New Jersey Release Climate Resilience Action Plans Following Community Development Process – NJ Department of Environmental Protection (media release)


The New World: Envisioning Life After Climate Change – New York Times

Coordinating climate and air-quality policies to improve public health – MIT

OIG identifies opportunities for Amtrak to reduce locomotive idling, more easily achieve emission reduction goals – Amtrak Office of Inspector General (media release)


Critics of Move PGH pilot program say it’s not adequately serving disabled, low-income residents – Tribune-Review

Baltimore leaders apply for federal funding to demolish “Highway to Nowhere” – WMAR-TV

Readout of the First USDOT and FTA Roundtable Discussion on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Transit Experience – USDOT (media release)


California farmers look to tomato crops as new source for producing clean drinking water – CBS News

While clean water isn’t a partisan issue, it is a faith issue – Religion News Service (commentary)


WVDOT, Department of Arts, Culture and History celebrate five years of Roads to Prosperity with exhibit at State Culture Center – West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

Mural painting brings awareness to pedestrian safety on 6th Avenue – Arizona Public Media

Robert Moses Returns to New York City, in Theatrical Form – Bloomberg

The intersection of historic preservation in D.C. and urban planning – Washington Business Journal (commentary)


Completed pedestrian safety projects in Cincinnati cut down on accidents – Spectrum 1

Dementia: Can traffic-related air pollution increase risk? – Medical News Today

Cyclist crash numbers raise questions about OKC infrastructure – Oklahoma City Free Press

Experts Suggest Taxing Large Vehicles Could Curb Pedestrian DeathsJalopnik

Evanston Transit Alliance exploring ways to connect local bike trails – Evanston Roundtable

How will Virginia’s new Office of Trails spend $89 million? – Virginia Mercury (commentary)


Managing Severe Storms and Environmental Impacts – TRB (Webinar)

State DOTs Perspective on Pavement Resilience – TRB (Webinar)

Factors influencing bike share among underserved populations: Evidence from three U.S. cities – Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment


BNSF Railway Bridge Across the Missouri River Between Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota; Final Environmental Impact StatementCoast Guard (Notice of availability)

Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit – EPA (Notice; request for public comment)

COVID–19 Related Relief Concerning Operations at Chicago O’Hare, John F. Kennedy, Los Angeles, Newark Liberty, New York LaGuardia, Ronald Reagan Washington National and San Francisco Airports for the Winter 2022/2023 Scheduling SeasonFAA (Expiration of the limited, conditional waiver of the minimum slot usage requirements)

Noise Compatibility Program for Duluth International Airport, St. Louis County, Minnesota – FAA (Approval of a Duluth International Airport (DLH) noise compatibility program)

Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting Notice – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Notice)

Notice of Teleconference Meeting of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee – Office of the Secretary of Interior (Notice)

Pipeline Safety: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Research and Development (R&D) Public Meeting and Forum – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice)

ETAP Podcast: The Ray Eyes Future Roadway Developments

This episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast interviews Laura Rogers (seen above), deputy director of The Ray, to examine the future of roadways in America.

Founded in 2014, The Ray is a Georgia-based corporate venture devoted to roadway technology testing and collaborates with a number of state departments of transportation across the country. For example, in 2019, it formed a public-private-philanthropic partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation to create and install a digital testing environment focused on critical interstate use cases, such as crash and weather warnings, for stakeholder engagement and education.

The first phase of work focused on an 18-mile corridor of rural interstate, known as The Ray Highway, and established as a connected vehicle ecosystem with six dual-mode and dual-active roadside radios, a number of cellular V2X or C-V2X equipped vehicles owned by the Georgia DOT connected to Panasonic’s CIRRUS cloud-based data management platform.

Laura Rogers, via The Ray

Additionally, in April, The Ray and consulting firm NGI recently released the NextGen Highways Feasibility Study for the Minnesota Department of Transportation that examined strategies for “co-locating” electric and communications infrastructure in highway right-of-ways or ROWs.

That study focused on the potential deployment of buried, high-voltage/direct current or HVDC transmission lines within Minnesota interstate and highway ROWs – an effort that offers broader implications for highway ROW strategies in other states.

In this episode of the ETAP podcast, Rogers discussed the “safety, condition, and sustainability” concerns surrounding America’s road networks, which she stressed are “vital” to the nationwide movement of goods and people.

Prior to joining The Ray, Rogers served as the sustainability and energy program manager at the Maryland Department of Transportation for six years as part of a long career in the federal and private sectors working on environmental management and sustainability issues.

To listen to this podcast, click here.

Hawaii DOT wants plastic waste to hit the road

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is moving forward on two fronts to transform plastic water bottles from beach-littering ‘ōpala’ or rubbish to recycled road material.

[Above photo by the Hawaii DOT]

Engineers are testing an asphalt mix with recycled plastic polymer on a 1.2-mile road segment in Honolulu to see how well it holds up in Hawaii’s tropical environment.

Meanwhile, Hawaii DOT is using an FHWA Climate Challenge Initiative grant to help finance its own $6 million plastic recycling research facility to turn plastic waste into road polymer and other useful transportation products.

The pilot project is the southern end of Fort Weaver Road; a two-lane bi-directional road with that carries 6,200 vehicles per day on average. The roadway was “perfect for the pilot” because the base structure was in good condition, but the wearing recourse required “significant rehabilitation or replacement,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaii DOT’s deputy director of highways.

He explained that the agency plans to divide the roadway segment into three sections: the control section, which will be composed exclusively of Polymer Modified Asphalt or PMA; a second section incorporating plastic into the PMA; and a third section adding plastic to traditional ‘Hot Mix’ asphalt.

Once construction is finished in July 2023, researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Hawaii Pacific University will evaluate the three sections for performance and the potential of the material to release microplastics into the environment.

“Even though we’re using a material that has been used on roads in the United States for over five years, we need to make sure the mix is right for Hawaii and our environment,” Sniffen said.

Anticipating that the pilot project will be a success, Hawaii DOT already is planning the state’s first plastic recycling facility, expected to be operational within two years.

The facility will use plastic waste found in the Pacific Ocean to manufacture pellets for roadway use, Sniffen noted, “then could potentially move into creating plastic products for other infrastructure like plastic reinforcing materials for concrete.”

That is important for Hawaii because it must import plastic pellets from the mainland while it has an overabundance of hometown plastic that serves no useful purpose.

“Keeping our own waste plastic out of landfills in a manner that will improve our roads and environment will be a tremendous benefit to everyone in Hawaii,” Sniffen added.

Several other state departments of transportation are engaged in similar plastic recycling efforts.

In November 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wrapped up a pilot project that used plastic pellets made from grocery bags, milk jugs, and other recyclable plastics in an asphalt reconstruction project.

The pellets were added to the asphalt that covered two quarter-mile test sections of the project at the entrance to Ridley Creek State Park, about 15 miles west of Philadelphia.

In December 2021, the Illinois Department of Transportation started working with the Illinois Center for Transportation to develop more “sustainable pavement practices,” which include ways to incorporate more recycled materials such as plastic into asphalt mixes.

Both are working on a joint project – dubbed “R27-196-HS: Rheology-Chemical Based Procedure to Evaluate Additives/Modifiers Used in Asphalt Binders for Performance Enhancements: Phase 2” – to investigate methods to “soften” asphalt binder to reduce pavement cracking.