Environmental News Highlights – November 10, 2021


AASHTO Praises Passage of Historic Transportation Bill AASHTO

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal – The White House

EPA tells court it will reconsider air quality standards for ozone – Reuters



Pandemic milestone: U.S. ends international travel ban, opening the door to vaccinated tourists – CNBC


AASHTO’s Tymon Talks Infrastructure on C-Span – AASHTO Journal

Public transportation can save the world – if we let it – The Verge

The battle over a vast New York park: is this climate resilience or capitalism? – The Guardian

Kansas City hopes its vision for airport solar will be ready for takeoff soon – Energy News Network

Industry still behind in race for enough truck parking spaces – FleetOwner


Pennsylvania Governor Awards $9.5 Million to Reduce Pollutants and Increase Clean Transportation – Pennsylvania Governor’s Office

Port of Seattle Sets 2040 Net Zero Emissions Target – Ship & Bunker


AASHTO President: Embrace the “New Normal” of Equity – AASHTO Journal

Biden wants to ‘reconnect communities’ cut off by interstates – this infamous Baltimore highway shows what’s at stake – MarketWatch

PA Governor Wolf Establishes PA Office of Environmental Justice – WKOK Radio

The event that changed the environmental justice movement forever – Grist

Delays frustrate White House environmental justice advisers – E&E News


California desert high-speed rail line could block sheep, mountain lions. Democrats want more crossings. – Merced Sun-Star

How Minneapolis’ simple change to newly constructed boulevards will improve water quality – MinnPost

Hundreds of SCDOT employees participating in “Grab a Bag SC” litter pickup Tuesday – WOLO-TV

NCDOT Wildflower Program among the most recognized in the country – WGHP-TV

ARDOT Rolls Out Anti-Litter Campaign With Keep It Clean, Arkansas Video – Arkansas DOT (Media release)


Wisconsin DOT Unveils Dual Language Signs – WJFW-TV

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is setting new standards for public art – The Points Guy


New and expanded trail system in north Shelby County, Alabama – Bham Now

Online Survey To Gather Comments on Hawaii Bikeway Needs – Hawaii DOT (Media release)


COP26 Presents Historic Opportunity for a More Sustainable Future, Say Presidents of U.S. National Academies – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Transit and Micromobility – TRB

TRB Webinar: Creature Comforts – Designing Terminal Restrooms and Ancillary Spaces – TRB


Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program; Arizona Department of Transportation Final FHWA Audit Report – FHWA (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Last Chance Grade Permanent Restoration Project on Interstate 101, in Del Norte County, California – FHWA (Notice)

National Wetland Plant ListArmy Corps of Engineers (Notice)

Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Subcommittee Meeting – December 2021 – EPA (Notice of public meeting)

Announcement of the Board of Directors for the National Environmental Education Foundation – EPA (Notice of appointment and re-appointment; correction)

Deadline Extension for Regional Roundtable Discussions Regarding ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ – Corps of Engineers and EPA (Notice of events; extension of deadline request for nominations)

Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Proposal To Find That Ohio Has Satisfied Conditions on Earlier ApprovalNOAA and EPA (Notice of proposed finding; request for comments)

Hazardous Materials: Suspension of HMR Amendments Authorizing Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice of proposed rulemaking)

Notice of Competitive Offer for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands in the State of Arizona – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Amended Order Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID–19 Pandemic – CDC (Notice)

Requirement for Negative Pre- Departure COVID–19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery From COVID–19 for All Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving Into the United States From Any Foreign Country – CDC (Notice of agency amended order)

Requirement for Airlines and Operators To Collect and Transmit Designated Information for Passengers and Crew Arriving Into the United States; Requirement for Passengers To Provide Designated Information – CDC (Notice of agency order)

ETAP Podcast: Reducing Negative Impacts of Traffic Noise

In this episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast, Noel Alcala – noise and air quality coordinator at the Ohio Department of Transportation – discusses the negative impacts that traffic noise has on humans and the cost-effective solutions designed to mitigate it.

[Above photo of highway sound barrier construction by the Ohio DOT]

From loss of sleep to loss of hearing, excessive noise can pose a real threat– with recent reports identifying a possible link between noise exposure and dementia.

Traffic noise is a major contributor to such “noise pollution” that can contribute to negative health outcomes. However, better highway designs and sound barriers can mitigate the negative impact of traffic noise– and state departments of transportation are working on such solutions for those living near high-level traffic noise areas.

According to the noise barrier inventory maintained by the Federal Highway Administration, more than 3,000 linear miles of noise wall barriers have been built since the 1970s across the United States.

Such sound barriers remain an essential part of highway design and construction as the World Health Organization determined that prolonged exposure to high levels of noise “interferes with people’s daily activities … disturbs sleep, causes cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduces performance and provokes annoyance responses and changes in social behavior.”

Yet the cost of meeting those regulations and protecting the public against a vehicle’s roar— the predominant sound for cars is that of tire-pavement; for trucks, engine, and stack sounds – takes considerable funding.

For example, between 2014 and 2016, FHWA found that total construction costs for noise barriers topped $671 million in just a three-year period – an average of $2 million per mile of noise wall.

That’s why many state DOTs are trying to find ways to reduce the cost of noise abatement efforts, noted Alcala – who also leads the Noise Working Group with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Committee on Environment and Sustainability.

“The main goal of more accurate noise abatement modeling can result in cost reduction,” he explained. “Modeling noise levels more accurately can likely reduce costs noise wall in construction.”

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

State DOTs Step Up Roadway Litter Removal Efforts

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and the Arizona Department of Transportation are the latest agencies to beef up anti-litter activities across their respective states.

[Above photo by the Arkansas DOT]

“As we approach the holidays and increased travel, we want to ensure our roadways are safe from the harmful effects of litter,” explained Clay Bright, the former commissioner of the Tennessee DOT, in a statement.

“Whether intentional or unintentional, litter on our roads impacts safety, the environment, and the economy, while also detracting from the state’s natural beauty,” he added. “We are grateful for our many partners across the state coming together to help prevent and reduce litter.”

[Editor’s note: Governor Bill Lee (R) recently named Bright to serve as the CEO of the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee, with Joe Galbato – the current chief of the bureau of administration for the Tennessee DOT – stepping in to serve as interim commissioner.]

The Tennessee DOT and Nobody Trashes Tennessee recently launched “No Trash November,” a month-long statewide initiative encouraging state residents to participate in cleanup events in their communities, in partnership with Keep Tennessee Beautiful and Adopt-A-Highway groups.

“We are rallying our local Keep America Beautiful affiliates to participate in the first-ever No Trash November campaign to help reach the goal to remove 20,000 pounds of litter from our roads,” said Missy Marshall, executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Department of Transportation is beefing up its “Keep It Clean, Arkansas” anti-litter campaign with the addition of a new educational video.

ARDOT launched its refreshed campaign in October at the Arkansas State Fair, providing information to those interested in taking a proactive approach to litter and wanting to get involved with the Adopt-a-Highway program, which sponsors more than 900 volunteer cleanup groups statewide. 

“People may not realize it, but long-term damage occurs when litter hits the highway,” explained Holly Butler, executive assistant for the agency’s public information office, in a statement. “Trash doesn’t just stay on the side of the road. It also gets washed into nearby rivers, lakes and streams, and pollutes waterways and aquatic habitats.” 

[Editor’s note: In April, the Tennessee Aquarium opened a pair of new exhibits funded by the grants from the Tennessee DOT to illustrate how microplastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.]

Arkansas has the 12th largest highway system in the nation with more than 16,000 miles of roadway to maintain and keep litter-free. However, for every one mile of road, Arkansas averages 2,000 pieces of trash – adding up to almost 32 million pieces of litter each year and costing the agency $5 million annually to remove it.

Finally, the Arizona Department of Transportation provided an update on the roadway debris-removal prowess of its Incident Response Unit or IRU, which started up two years ago with sponsorship by State Farm.

The IRU patrols freeways to provide vital services including removing litter and debris blocking roadways, including commercial load spills, ladders, couches, even air conditioning units. In addition to litter removal, the IRU provides traffic control at crash scenes and aids stranded motorists.

“Litter is an ugly problem anywhere and objects in the roadway can cause serious and even fatal incidents,” said David Blue, Arizona DOT’s IRU manager, in a statement. “Our job is to respond as rapidly as possible to get the driving surface clear and make sure conditions are safe for everyone.”