Environmental News Highlights – December 14, 2022


ETAP Podcast: AASHTO President Roger Millar – AASHTO Journal

The U.S. wants to slash carbon emissions from power plants. Natural gas is in the way – NPR

BIL-Funded Infrastructure Projects – USDOT (media release)

At White House Tribal Nations Summit, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Announces New Actions to Support Better, Safer Infrastructure in Indian Country – USDOT (media release)


Face masks may return amid holiday ‘tripledemic’ of covid, flu and RSV – Washington Post


Use of DOT Funds for Public Involvement – USDOT (media release)


Virginia DOT Releases State’s First-Ever Resilience Plan – AASHTO Journal

Arizona DOT Reusing Highway Materials to Cut Costs – AASHTO Journal

State transportation officials vow better communication in wake of contentious interstate solar project in Augusta – Kennebec Journal

Virginia is studying whether to open a second inland port – Cardinal News

Study Shows The Majority Of California’s Coastal Airports Vulnerable To Increased Flooding Due To Climate Change – Society for Risk Analysis


US Hydrogen Hubs Formed in Southwest, Southeast – Transport Topics

Scientists thought carbon emissions had peaked. They’ve never been higher. – Washington Post

Airlines Are Finally Admitting Contrails Are an Environmental Problem – Dallas Morning News

Colorado’s updated EV plan boosts incentives but avoids California-style ban on gas vehicles – Colorado Public Radio

Airports Will Increment Solar To Match 12x Electricity Demand By 2100CleanTechnica (commentary)


EPA takes environmental justice push to coal country – E&E News

Supreme Court Admissions Case Could Upend Environmental Justice Laws – Stateline

Norman, Oklahoma community members with disabilities seek improved public transit accessibilityOU Daily

Washington DOT calls law enforcement presence at homeless camp ‘disappointing and harmful’ – KXLY-TV


Drivers not following the rules of the road leading to more closures on Snoqualmie Pass, WSDOT saysKING-TV


Why activists are targeting famous art to protest climate change – PBS

Roadways for People: The Necessity of CollaborationPlanetizen (commentary)


Bozeman planning for ‘bicycle boulevards’ – Bozeman Daily Chronicle

DC officials planning a study to authorize non-vehicular transportation – GW Hatchet

How to Fix the Most Dangerous Streets in America – CityLab

Vision Zero and the struggle to bring down traffic fatalities in Texas – Texas Standard

North Carolina Alliance for Safe Transportation Launched with Focus on Teen Drivers – Up & Coming Weekly

‘The Street Project’ Chronicles The Fight To Make Roads Safer For Bikers And Pedestrians – Seven Days

Oklahoma is first state to offer transportation specific to mental health crisis – KTUL-TV

California Transportation Commission Awards $1 Billion to Disadvantaged Communities to Encourage More Walking and Biking – California Transportation Commission (media release, PDF)


Stormwater Research Offers Economic and Green Benefits – TRB

Micromobility Policies, Permits, and Practices – TRB


Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) Meeting – EPA (Notification of public meeting)

Safety Advisory 22–4 Suicide Prevention Signage on Public Transit – FTA (Notice of Safety Advisory)

FHWA Launches Seventh ‘Every Day Counts’ Initiative

The Federal Highway Administration recently kicked off the latest round of transportation innovations through its Every Day Counts or EDC program.

[Above image by FHWA]

The agency noted that EDC is a successful state-based program that helps identify and rapidly deploy proven, yet underused, innovations that facilitate greater efficiency in project delivery at the state, local and tribal levels – saving time, money, and other resources to ensure transportation infrastructure is built better, faster, smarter, and more equitably. It began soliciting ideas for the seventh round of this program, known as EDC-7, back in March.

The FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration are promoting this year’s innovations to help improve project delivery across highway, rail, and transit agencies at the state and local level.

“For over 10 years the Every Day Counts program has rapidly deployed proven technologies and processes that can be implemented at the national scale,” said Acting FHWA Administration Stephanie Pollack in a statement.

Acting Administrator Pollack

She added that this year’s EDC-7 innovations would improve safety for all road users, build a sustainable infrastructure for the future and grow an inclusive workforce.

Notably, FHWA and FTA selected several EDC-7 innovations with multimodal state transportation agencies in mind that should interest transit and rail agencies, too.

“Many of the innovations announced today as part of this forward-thinking program will help make the nation’s transit systems safer, greener, and more equitable,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “We look forward to promoting the findings from these initiatives — from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to leveling the playing field for small businesses to compete for design-build contracts — throughout the transit industry.”

This year’s EDC-7 innovations include:

  • Nighttime Visibility for Safety: The nighttime crash fatality rate is three times the daytime rate. Enhancing visibility along corridors, intersections, and pedestrian crossings can help reduce fatalities. This initiative promotes traffic control devices and properly designed lighting to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use public transportation and passenger rail services.
  • Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management: Over six million crashes a year in the U.S. put responders and other vulnerable road users at risk. Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management programs promote emerging technologies such as emergency vehicle lighting and queue warning solutions. These and other tools can advance safety and operations to help keep crash responders safe and mitigate traffic impacts after a crash.
  • Integrating Greenhouse Gas Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning: Transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. This initiative provides resources to help agencies, regardless of transportation mode, quantify greenhouse gases, and set goals to decrease motor vehicle, construction, and lifecycle emissions through planning and project development.
  • Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete or EPIC: Cracking in concrete is a limiting factor in achieving long-term concrete performance. Such internal curing can mitigate shrinkage, and cracking, and extend the service life of concrete bridge decks, as well.
  • Environmental Product Declarations or EPDs for Sustainable Project Delivery: Construction materials such as concrete and asphalt have environmental impacts during their life cycle, whether the transportation facility supports passenger vehicles, transit vehicles, or railroad cars. EPDs document those impacts. This tool helps states support procurement decisions and quantify embodied carbon reductions for “sustainable pavements” via lifecycle assessments.
  • Rethinking Disadvantaged Business Enterprises or DBEs in Design-Build: Many design-build contracts do not adequately provide opportunities for disadvantaged businesses. New practices are available to support the effective integration of program requirements to help DBEs compete for design-build contracts for highway and transit projects.
  • Strategic Workforce Development or SWD: The demand for highway workers is growing due to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, and emerging technologies require new skills. Thirty-two states are using SWD protocols to promote career opportunities in transportation, with six of those states having institutionalized SWD processes in their workforce programs. A continued focus on taking this nationwide will help stakeholders across the country improve their ability to identify, train, and place highway construction workers, FHWA said, with the focus on SWD expanding to rural and tribal communities to increase career opportunities.

Every two years since 2011, FHWA has worked with state departments of transportation, local governments, tribes, private industry, and other stakeholders to identify a new set of innovations to champion that merit accelerated deployment. The first six rounds of EDC have yielded several innovative project delivery technologies, including prefabricated bridge systems, design-build contracting, project bundling, e-construction, safety initiatives, and more.

FHWA credited the program’s success largely on its close collaboration with states and local partners through a process whereby states select innovations they want to pursue, then establish performance goals for the level of implementation and adoption they want to reach over the upcoming two-year cycle. After finalizing the selection and performance goals, implementation of those innovations begins with the support and assistance of diverse technical deployment teams established for each innovation, including federal, state, and local experts.

In addition, FHWA noted that the Accelerated Innovation Demonstration program and State Transportation Innovation Council Incentive program administered by the agency could complement EDC by providing additional funding and resources to help the surface transportation community accelerate the adoption and standardization of innovative technologies in their programs.

Utah Introduces ‘Roadkill Reporter’ App for Motorists

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Utah DWR) and Utah Department of Transportation recently introduced a free mobile phone application called “The Roadkill Reporter” to make it easier for motorists to report the location and description of any dead animals on or near roads for removal.  

[Above photo by Utah DWR

Available through both the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store, the new Roadkill Reporter app – developed over the last two years with funding from both state agencies – serves another purpose, as well: Pinpointing where the agencies need to build wildlife crossings on state highways. 

“It is important for us to understand how many wildlife-vehicle collisions occur in Utah,” explained Utah DWR Migration Initiative Coordinator Blair Stringham in a statement. “This new app will allow us to know exactly when and where collisions occur, which will help us identify hot spot areas on Utah highways. We can then work with Utah DOT and other partners to install underpasses, fencing, wildlife overpasses, and other structures to reduce collisions in those areas and keep wildlife and people safe.” 

Along with providing information about potential areas for wildlife crossings, the data collected through the app will also benefit the Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative and its efforts to learn more about the annual migration patterns of different animal species in Utah.  

The Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative is a program that tracks and studies the migration patterns of different wildlife and fish species in the state. Most of the data comes from animals wearing GPS tracking devices or from fish tagged with implanted transmitters. The tracking data benefits wildlife because biologists can identify where the animals spend large portions of time and then make habitat improvements in those areas. 

“For years, wildlife carcass data has been a key factor in Utah DOT and Utah DWR’s decision-making process to make Utah roads safer and improve wildlife population health,” noted Utah DOT Natural Resource Manager Matt Howard. “The new app will make it easier for the public to use and will give us more and better information to guide future mitigation efforts.” 

The most reported wildlife-vehicle collisions in Utah are with deer and elk. So far, in 2022, there have been 4,900 reported collisions with deer, 166 reported collisions with elk, and 20 reported collisions with moose. However, the actual number of collisions is likely twice as high, because many incidents just go unreported, Utah DWR noted. 

Many state departments of transportation have beefed up efforts to address wildlife crossing needs on state roads in recent years. 

For example, in August, the Colorado Department of Transportation recently completed the state’s newest wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 in the southwestern part of the state, celebrating the accomplishment with a ribbon-cutting event. 

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. 

Meanwhile, a research document recently released 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. 

With as many as two million collisions with large mammals in the United States leading to approximately 200 human deaths every year, the review compiled, evaluated, and synthesized studies, scientific reports, journal articles, technical papers, and other publications from within the United States and beyond to determine the effectiveness of 30 different mitigation measures. 

Ultimately, the report provides best management practices to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, increase habitat connectivity, and implement cost-effective solutions.