ETAP Podcast: Examining Reconnecting Community Projects

The third episode of a four-part Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast series focuses on the crucial connections required between planners, policymakers, and local communities to make active transportation systems more attractive, equitable, and inclusive for all users. (To listen to the first and second episodes, click here and here, respectively.)

[Above image by AASHTO]

The ETAP podcast – part of a technical service program for state departments of transportation provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – explores a wide array of environmental topics that affect transportation and infrastructure programs.

This episode of the ETAP podcast delves into the recent “Reconnecting Communities Summit” that attracted representatives from 150 communities nationwide.

Photo by AASHTO

ReConnect Rondo hosted this event – held in St. Paul, MN, October 12-14 – which featured presentations by national and local transportation industry leaders and workshops discussing vital issues such as project fund development, transportation equity and environmental impact.

The AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence – operated by AASHTO in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration – worked with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials to help sponsor the “Reconnecting Communities Summit.”

This episode showcases interviews with summit attendees who have either secured grants, applied for them or are engaged in initiatives aiming to create a brighter future for their residents through community reconnection efforts.

The podcast features Heather McLauglin-Kolb with the Salt Lake City Division of Transportation and Cayce James with the City of Seattle.  Additional speakers include J.T. Flowers, representing the Albina Vision Trust; Gretchen Chavez with the California Department of Transportation; and Lauren Hood, co-chair of Detroit’s Reparations Task Force. To listen to the full podcast, click here.

VTrans Offers Businesses & Others EV Fleet Savings

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is encouraging businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits to purchase or lease electric fleet vehicles by offering up to $5,000 in rebates for each plug-in EV that replaces an internal combustion engine-powered vehicle.

[Above photo by VTrans]

The “Electrify Your Fleet” program is making $500,000 available to fleet owners to “help create a robust market in our state of used electric vehicles so that more EVs will be available more affordably,” explained VTrans Secretary Joe Flynn in a news release.

The state-funded program will make it easier for businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits to buy or lease EVs, “realizing long- term cost-savings, reduce climate impacts, keep more money in the local economy, and better serve customers, clients, and citizens,” he added.

Photo via VTrans

The agency said 40 percent of that funding is earmarked for Vermont applicants who are from or who serve historically underserved communities. While most applicants will be capped at $2,500 per EV, nonprofits that provide Vermonters with transportation alternatives to personal vehicle ownership can get up to a $5,000 rebate per EV.

The amount of the rebate cannot exceed 25 percent of the vehicle purchased or leased. By combining the “Electrify Your Fleet” program benefits with local utility rebates and federal tax cuts for clean commercial vehicles, applicants can save as much as $10,000 per EV, according to VTrans.

The department added that it kicked off the program as one way to “electrify the transportation sector” and “accelerate the retirement of internal combustion engine vehicles.” By helping to reduce fossil-fueled transportation, which is the state’s largest contributor of carbon emissions, Vermont municipalities and business entities can “enjoy the benefits of cleaner transportation options,” VTrans pointed out.

Rebate recipients must “demonstrate that the incentives will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their fleet operations,” the agency said, with fleet owners required to keep the EVs for at least two years and agree to sell them through Vermont’s income-eligible incentive program for used vehicles.

The rebates also can be applied to electric bikes, electric motorcycles, and electric snowmobiles, VTrans stressed.

The program is scheduled to conclude in June 2024, but the agency said it may extend the program if more funding becomes available.

Many state departments of transportation across the country are engaged in similar efforts to help people, communities, and businesses accelerate the transition to EVs:

Environmental News Highlights – November 15, 2023


Longest Serving USDOT Deputy Secretary Passes Away -AASHTO Journal

White House, Lawmakers Evaluate IIJA on Second Anniversary -Transport Topics

White House Regulation Plan Sets Path for Tougher Climate Rules -Bloomberg Law

Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Urban Electric Mobility Infrastructure -U.S. Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (link to pdf)

Transit’s physical cliff: Climate change -Transportation for America (blog)



CDC expands testing of international air traveler samples to include flu, RSV, and other respiratory viruses -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (media release)


Indiana DOT Issues $91M in Community Crossings Grants -AASHTO Journal

Maryland transportation panel considers whether to recommend new fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as higher tolls -WUSA-TV

Cities Experiment With Pedal-Powered Delivery Policies -Government Technology

Bottles to bridges: Glass-based concrete makes for a greener crossing -New Atlas

Parking garages are a huge wasted heat source -Anthropocene

Can Solar Panels in Highway ROW Be the Next Big Step in Renewable Energy? -Thinking Transportation (podcast)


Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Transportation Planning -FHWA Innovator

Midwest pollution spiked dramatically this summer because of Canadian wildfires. Now officials may erase those days from the books. -Chicago Tribune

Texas could spend federal funds meant to cut carbon emissions on highway projects -Texas Tribune

START Lab expansion aims to make aviation greener -Penn State University


North Carolina DOT Official On Using AI And Cloud-Based Apps To Advance Transportation Equity -StateScoop

Illinois RTA provides 25,000 $20 transit passes to be distributed to survivors of domestic violence -Regional Transportation Authority (blog)

Apple And The EPA Take On The Future Of Environmental Policy -Forbes (contributed content)



Alaska Expands Reach of Unmanned Aerial systems in Remote Locations and Extreme Conditions -FHWA Innovator


Historical Markers To Commemorate Saratoga Springs Cycling History -Saratoga Today

Want to save our cities? Look to San Francisco’s iconic survivor: the Ferry Building -Los Angeles Times

Forest County Potawatomi unveil dual language highway signs in Wisconsin -Wisconsin Law Journal

Does Anyone Know How to Behave on the Subway Anymore? -New York Times



Officials seek feedback on plan to make Oklahoma streets more friendly for cyclists, walkers -Oklahoma Voice

Tensions Flare as Southern California Surf Communities Fight over E-Bikes –Surfer

Arroyofest returns to advocate active transportation -Talon Marks

Southmont, PA one of nine communities to win state’s ‘active transportation’ grant -Tribune-Democrat

Bike Utah: The e-bike revolution is here. That’s a good thing. -Salt Lake Tribune



What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options to Support Transportation? Results from Year Fourteen of a National Survey -Mineta Transportation Institute



Locomotives and Locomotive Engines; Preemption of State and Local Regulations -EPA (Final rule)

Biannual Request for Information on the Status of the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger Industry -FHWA (Notice)

Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC): Notice of Meeting -EPA (Notice)

Hazardous Materials: Public Meeting Notice for the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety Research, Development & Technology Virtual Forum -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice)

Request for Information: National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy -National Science Foundation (Notice)