Inaugural 2023 Reconnecting Communities Summit

ReConnect Rondo, a local grassroots organization in St. Paul, MN, hosted the first “Reconnecting Communities Summit” on October 11-14, as part of a broader national effort to open a dialogue between transportation officials and community organizations seeking to leverage grants awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods” pilot program.

[Above photo by AASHTO]

The AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence – operated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration – was thrilled to work with Reconnect Rondo and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) to sponsor the summit.

ReConnect Rondo is an organization with a mission to revitalize the Rondo community with a land bridge that reconnects the historic Rondo neighborhood that was divided by the construction of Interstate 94 during the post-World War II highway building boom.

Photo by AASHTO

ReConnect Rondo, COMTO, and the Center for Environmental Excellence hope to use the momentum of the summit as a springboard to the development of a “community of practice” for both recipients of the $185 million in grants issued via the first round of USDOT’s “Reconnecting” program as well as other organizations seeking future grant opportunities through it.

The summit featured a plenary session that included speeches from ReConnect Rondo Board Chair Marvin Roger Anderson, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-4), and COMTO Minnesota Chapter President Tekia Jefferson. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III also spoke at the meeting. The event’s diverse array of presentations and forums, along with question and answer panels, put a spotlight on equity in transportation and the importance of robust community engagement and outreach.

Concluding the summit were words from Keynote speaker Liz Ogbu, architect and author of numerous works tackling the challenges of cultural leadership and community building, as well as an address from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

In addition to helping sponsor the summit, the Center for Environmental Excellence is featuring interviews with summit participants on its Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast as part of its four-part series on transportation equity.

Wyoming DOT Completes Dry Piney Wildlife Crossing

The Wyoming Department of Transportation recently completed a long-awaited project aimed at reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions along the Green River in western Wyoming.

[Above image by Wyoming DOT]

The agency released a video detailing how wildlife crossings built as part of its $15.1 million Dry Piney project will help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.

The Dry Piney project – a joint effort between the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming DOT – includes nine underpasses and 16.7 miles of eight foot-high fencing on both sides of Highway 189 in the western part of the state to protect big game animals, primarily mule deer.

Construction of wildlife crossing infrastructure is getting a national boost via a new pilot project launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation in April; an effort funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA.

That pilot program – dubbed the “Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program” and managed by the Federal Highway Administration – will make grant funding available to states and communities to construct wildlife crossings over or below busy roads, add warning signs for drivers, acquire mapping and tracking tools, and more.

Above Image by FHWA

FHWA is making a total of $350 million available over five years, including more than $111 million in grants through its first round of funding in 2023. The agency also noted that roughly 200 people are killed – and many more are injured – annually in the United States in more than one million collisions involving wildlife and vehicles.

recent blog post by the Pew Trusts highlights how the growing success of wildlife crossings – bridges, underpasses, and culverts designed to help animals avoid vehicle traffic – across the U.S. is drawing a surge of interest from policymakers seeking to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and protect animals.

Meanwhile, state departments of transportation have already been working on a variety of wildlife-vehicle collision prevention initiatives over the last several years.

For example, to date, Colorado DOT said it has built more than 60 wildlife mitigation structures crossing above or under highways throughout the state. Additionally, it has installed 400 miles of high big game fencing along state and U.S. highways or next to the interstates.

In August 2022, the agency completed a wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 in the southwestern part of the state; a stretch of road where more than 60 percent of all crashes are due to wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Concurrently, a research document released in July 2022 by an international pool funded study led by the Nevada Department of Transportation provides an “authoritative review” of the most effective measures to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, improve motorist safety, and build safer wildlife crossings.

Environmental News Highlights – November 8, 2023


Port Infrastructure Projects Get $653M in Federal Funds -AASHTO Journal

A New Environmental Justice Playbook for Federal Agencies -The White House

U.S. cities consider banning “right on red” laws amid rise in pedestrian deaths -CBS News

Shipping industry could lose $10 billion a year battling climate change by 2050 –CNBC

An archeologist shortage could stifle the climate law -E&E News

Port Leaders Push Wind Power as Long-Term Solution -Transport Topics



Americans Are Walking 36% Less Since CovidCityLab



How the country’s largest ferry system is going green –Axios

Texas Wants to Know: How will the state’s transportation infrastructure handle its booming population? -KXAS-TV

Build the Bike Lanes and the Delivery Bikes Will Follow -Government Technology

NYC seeks suggestions for moving freight traffic off of roads onto the rivers -Daily News

How do you prevent New York City subway flooding in extreme rain? –Marketplace



Colorado built a park over I-70 to contain pollution. Is the air safe to breathe? -Colorado Public Radio

EPA grant will encourage small California airports, pilots to switch from leaded to unleaded fuel -KNTV-TV

California may require railroads to eliminate pollution, EPA rules -Nation World

Los Angeles aiming for vast greenhouse gas reductions before 2028 Olympics with new plan -Inside the Games



Flying Is Becoming More Accessible For Passengers With Disabilities –Forbes

New Mississippi program to transport patients to appointments -WJTV-TV

Metrolinx is joining the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program -Metrolinx (media release)



Tennessee DOT’s ‘No Trash November’ aims to remove 50,000 pounds of litter from roadways -WATE-TV



Why is Houston so car centric?

Young Photographer Gives New View Of Planes -ABC News (link to video)

MTA, New York Comedy Festival Team Up to Bring Top Comedic Voices to the Subway System -Metropolitan Transportation Authority (media release)



Questions remain as Richmond-San Rafael bike lane pilot program ends -KPIX-TV

Drivers make noise about Chicago proposal targeting and fining loud cars -WBBM-TV

Abandoned hire bikes and e-scooters in London can now be reported via FixMyStreet -Highway News

FDOT, Partners Celebrate Eighth Annual Mobility Week -Florida DOT (media release)

Kansas Mobility Week encourages multimodal transportation choices -Kansas DOT (media release)



Webinar: Let’s Catch a Bus – Understanding Health Impacts and Public Transit Equity –TRB

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

Assessing the Impacts of Right-Turn Lanes on Rural and Suburban Highways –NCHRP

Accessing America’s Great Outdoors: Forecasting Recreational Travel Demand –NCHRP

Communicating Safe Behavior Practices to Vulnerable Road Users -Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

UVA and VDOT celebrate 75th anniversary of state transportation research council -Augusta Free Press

Exploring decarbonization pathways for USA passenger and freight mobility -Nature Communications



Transportation Services for Individuals With Disabilities: ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities -USDOT (Request for information on accessibility improvements for transportation facilities)

Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity (ACTE); Notice of Public Meeting -Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (Notice)

Determination To Defer Sanctions; California; California Air Resources Board -EPA (Interim final determination)

Approval of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Vehicle Miles Traveled Emissions Offset Demonstrations for the 2015 Ozone Standards; California -EPA (Final rule)

Notice of Availability of Preliminary Designation of Certain Stormwater Discharges Within Two Watersheds in Los Angeles County, California Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System of the Clean Water Act -EPA (Notice of availability)

Notice of Availability of Consultation Documents for Public Comment Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act -FAA (Notice)

Notice of Proposed Methodology for the 2024 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment Report -Delaware River Basin Commission (Notice)

John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System; Florida, Georgia,Louisiana, Maine, and New York; Draft 5-Year Review Boundaries -Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice of availability; request for comments)

Land Uses; Special Uses; Carbon Capture and Storage Exemption -Forest Service (Proposed rule; request for public comment)

Notice of Availability of a Joint Record of Decision for the Proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project -Bureau of Ocean Energy and National Marine Fisheries Service (Notice)