Environmental News Highlights – November 30, 2022


AASHTO Offers Feedback on Vulnerable Road Users – AASHTO Journal

White House releases environmental justice screening tool – E&E News

Three Midwestern States to Watch as They Navigate Equitable Rollout for EV Charging – Inside Climate News

How to design clean energy subsidies that work – without wasting money on free riders – The Conversation

Manchin’s permitting deal is a major setback for environmental justice – The Hill (Opinion)


Washington Ferries won’t rehire unvaxxed workers amid crew shortages – The Center Square

Cities became more pedestrian-friendly during the pandemic. Many aren’t going back – NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday


How Buffalo Survives Supercharged Snow – CityLab

States Test an Electrifying Idea: Roads That Can Recharge Your EV – Pew

Tackling Supply Chain Challenges and Climate Change – St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Hurricanes knock out traffic lights. Could a Tampa solar sidewalk change that? – Tampa Bay Times

Four Considerations for Building Out Electric Vehicle Charging Stations – Route Fifty (Commentary)


Decarbonization of US aviation sector ‘within reach’: study – The Hill

Across New York, a Fleet of Google Street View Vehicles Tracks an Array of Key Pollutants – Inside Climate News

From EV school buses to tractors, US seeks zero-emission heavy-duty transport by 2040 – Electrek


In a Rural Corner of the West, a Local Level Push to Revive Passenger RailRoute Fifty

Researchers Create Toolkit to Address Disparities in Transportation and MobilityInsight Into Diversity

Buttigieg gets an earful about tribal roads during his stop in N.M – Source NM

Disabilities organizations, individuals sue DC over new bike lane designs – WTOP Radio

Bike advocates sue Portland, Oregon for failing ‘to meet its most basic legal obligations to provide safe streets’ – Cycling Weekly


llinois DOT: Changing Mowing Practices to Protect Landscapes – AASHTO Journal

Arizona DOT Highlights Benefit of Elk Fencing Project – AASHTO Journal

U.S. Department of Transportation Providing the U.S. Forest Service $5.2 Million in ‘Quick Release’ Emergency Relief Funding to Repair Hurricane Fiona Damage in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest – FHWA (media release)


Wisconsin Governor, Joins Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, WisDOT to unveil dual-language highway signsWisconsin Governor’s Office (media release)

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Invests $300,000 in Community-Led Projects to Boost Safety, Connection and Inclusion on America’s Trails – Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (media release)


Where ‘Vision Zero’ Is Working – CityLab

Traffic congestion may contribute to lower birthweight – Boston University School of Public Health

Passengers with Disabilities: Barriers to Accessible Air Travel Remain – GAO

Urban planners and the regulation of sound in our cities – Quiet Communities (blog)


Environmental Challenges and Prospects for Community Relocation in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas: Proceedings of a Workshop – TRB


FY 2023 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Transit Standards Development – FTA (Notice)

Outer Continental Shelf Air Regulations; Consistency Update for Massachusetts – EPA (Final rule)

Control of Air Pollution From Aircraft Engines: Emission Standards and Test Procedures – EPA (Final rule)

Great Lakes Advisory Board Notice for Virtual Meeting – EPA (Notice)

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

Official Release of EMFAC2021 Motor Vehicle Emission Factor Model for Use in the State of California – EPA (Notice of availability)

John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System; Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin; Draft 5-Year Review Boundaries – Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice of availability; request for comments)

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force Meeting – Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice)

Natural Disaster Procedures: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Activities of the Corps of EngineersArmy Corps of Engineers (Proposed rule)

Notice of Consideration of Demand Response and Electric Vehicle Standards – Tennessee Valley Authority (Notice with request for comments)

Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program; Northeast Corridor Project Inventory – FRA (Notice of availability)

Notice of the December 7 and 8, 2022, Teleconference Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names – National Park Service (Notice)

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Empire Offshore Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore New York – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments

Jefferson National Forest; Monroe County, West Virginia; Giles and Montgomery County, Virginia. Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement – Forest Service (Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement)

Establishment of the Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Advisory Committee and Solicitation of Nominations for Membership – NOAA (Notice)

National Boating Safety Advisory Committee; Vacancies – Coast Guard (Request for applications)

Utah DOT Preps Howitzers for Avalanche Control

Crews with the Utah Department of Transportation recently test-fired howitzers used to create controlled avalanches on state routes in the Big and Little Cottonwood canyons; part of the agency’s plan to ensure motorist safety on roads potentially threatened by avalanches, while also protecting said roads from avalanche damage.

[Above photo by the Utah DOT]

“Our goal is to make sure people can travel safely in our canyons throughout the winter,” said Steven Clark, Utah DOT avalanche program manager, in a statement. “We’re always working to keep these vital highways open as much as possible.”

[Editor’s note: A panel discussion held at the 2019 TransComm meeting in Indianapolis stressed that more public outreach on the part of state departments of transportation regarding snow and ice removal operational needs is critical to creating a safer and more efficient highway system during the winter season.]

During the test-firing process, he said crews verify predetermined targets in known avalanche areas. This ensures the agency can fire the howitzers in inclement weather when targets are not visible – using target information confirmed during the test-firing process.

In addition to howitzers, Utah DOT avalanche control methods include explosives placed by hand or dropped by helicopter and ‘Avalaunchers,’ which use compressed gas to launch a small explosive. Agency crews also use remote avalanche control systems or RACS, which are small towers installed on known avalanche paths that use fuel/air mixtures to create small, pinpoint explosions when remotely activated by Utah DOT crews.

Those various tools provide several options for controlling avalanches on the approximately 70 avalanche paths in Little Cottonwood Canyon that cross SR-210, as well as other highways with avalanche risk such as SR-190 in Big Cottonwood and US-189 in Provo Canyon.

“Utah DOT is one of the leaders in transportation avalanche mitigation,” Clark said. “We utilize the newest technologies and are always looking to incorporate new techniques and equipment to ensure safety for all canyon travelers.”

Several state DOTs with mountain roads in their care tap into various avalanche control methods similar to those used by Utah DOT and different techniques.

For example, the Washington State Department of Transportation uses several “passive” control methods to manage snow slides. These include elevated roadways so avalanches pass under them and catchment basins to stop the avalanche before snow reaches the highway. WSDOT also uses use diversion dams and snow berms to keep the snow off the highway, the agency said.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Transportation coordinates with its sister agency, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center or CAIC, to regularly monitor and control 278 of 522 known avalanche paths located above highways across the state. Their joint weather forecasting effort helps prevent avalanches from affecting drivers and passengers on the roads within those avalanche zones.

How Arizona DOT Reuses Materials

The Arizona Department of Transportation recently outlined how it reuses a variety of highway construction materials – such as asphalt, concrete, and steel – to reduce overall transportation project costs and preserve the environment.

[Above photo by the Arizona DOT]

“We reuse as much as we can so nothing goes to waste,” explained Kole Dea, senior resident engineer with the Arizona DOT, in a blog post. “If something can’t go back into the project, then it’s recycled.”

Dea used the I-10 Broadway Curve Improvement Project to highlight how the agency reuses and recycles highway construction materials – both as part of the same project as well as externally on different projects.

For example, when construction began on the I-10 Broadway Curve project in summer 2021, crews removed the rubberized asphalt from the surfaces of I-10 and US 60 in the project area. That work created 1.3 million square yards of asphalt millings, which then formed the base layer for temporary haul roads in the project area. Millings provide a strong base for trucks and equipment to drive on, and they reduce dust – another plus for the environment. Furthermore, the agency mixed those millings with dirt to build embankments to provide additional support to those temporary roadways. Outside of the project area, Arizona DOT said it uses millings on maintenance roads in unpaved areas. 

As the agency removes walls and other concrete structures to make way for new construction, they are broken up to serve a new purpose. Arizona DOT said its crews use equipment to break each piece into sizes no larger than 24 inches. Those pieces then become fill material for building up approaches for new bridges. They also fill in holes or otherwise supplement unstable materials in the project area.

The agency also removes steel rebar and other metal materials and takes them to a recycling facility – pointing out that recycled steel is as strong and durable as new steel made from iron ore.

Arizona DOT stressed that it works in compliance with state and federal regulations to ensure all reused materials do not threaten the environment. For example, the agency tests the paint stripes on milled asphalt to ensure it does not contain lead, and that old pipes or bridge structures are free from asbestos.

Several state departments of transportation have reused materials left over from highway and other transportation infrastructure projects for a variety of purposes – especially environmentally focused ones.

For example, in 2021, the Maryland Department of Transportation began oversight of contracts with two Maryland companies to make bricks, pavers, concrete highway barriers, and shoreline supports – among other structures – from dredged material cleared from a shipping channel within the Port of Baltimore.

In addition, in early 2022, the North Carolina Department of Transportation provided more than 1,000 tons of damaged concrete pipe to help the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries shore up two artificial reefs.