Environmental News Highlights – December 21, 2022


Biden announces $2.5B loan for electric vehicle battery hubs in three states – The Hill

EPA revokes Trump-era air permitting policy – E&E News

EVs, Building Emissions Among Biden’s Sustainable Energy Priorities – Nextgov

How the Parking Garage Conquered the City – CityLab


Has Micromobility Finally Rebounded from Its COVID Downturn? – Government Technology

People who skipped their COVID vaccine are at higher risk of traffic accidents, according to a new study – Fortune


Manchin’s permitting reform effort is dead. Biden’s climate agenda could be a casualty. – Vox


Anticipating climate threats to infrastructure, VDOT unveils first resilience plan – WHRO Radio

The hard truth of building clean solar farms – Popular Science

Electric vehicle charging: What drivers say N.J.’s doing right and wrong. – NJ.com

‘Plastic Roads’ Are Paved With Good Intention – Stateline

Southern California Ports to Expand Electrification Efforts – Transport Topics

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plans Moving Forward in Alaska’s Northern Susitna Valley – KTNA Radio


GOP legislators seek to repeal law hitching Va. to Calif. emissions standards – Richmond Times-Dispatch

Colorado air quality regulators approve ozone plan they know will fail – Colorado Newsline

Overview of Emissions of Carbon Dioxide in the Transportation SectorCongressional Budget Office (Summary, links to document)


As transit agencies cut service, people in wheelchairs get stranded – Minnesota Reformer

With $1B at Stake, Clashes Emerge Over Highway Removal – Route Fifty


New York City’s Popular Online Tree Map Gets a Big Update – CityLab

What a Republican House means for water fights – E&E News

Rules finalized for e-bikes in Pennsylvania state parks and forests – WNEP-TV

New Mexico DOT crews build gabions to control erosion – KRQE-TV

Deputy Secretary Beaudreau Announces $228 Million for Wildfire Mitigation and Resilience from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – US Department of Interior (media release)


Governor Hochul Announces $24.3 Million for Recreation and Historic Preservation Projects Through Round XII of Regional Economic Development Council Initiative – New York State Governor’s Office (media release)


Colorado Officially Opens New ‘Highway Cover’ Park – AASHTO Journal

Fordham University to Ban E-Scooters, Bikes and Skateboards from Campus – WABC-TV

Tampa trials mobility-as-a-service app – Cities Today

The Circuit Trails completed 10 gaps throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region in 2022 – Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

An Arkansas Plan for the Future of Mobility – KUAF Radio’s Ozarks At Large

Improved walking and biking trails coming to California’s Northstate thanks to a $1 billion program – KRCR-TV


Improving Health Care Through TransportationTCRP


Public Hearing for Renewable Fuel Standards for 2023–2025 and Other ChangesEPA (Notice)

Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) Commercial ProjectBureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments)

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

Proposed Revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices for the Natural Resources Conservation Service – Natural Resources Conservation Service (Notice of availability; request for comments)

Michigan DOT Details U.P. Highway Improvements

In 2022, the Michigan Department of Transportation made a series of improvements to the highways crisscrossing the state’s Upper Peninsula or U.P. region, with projects widening road shoulders, upgrading weather sensor stations, installing “smart” traffic signals, and making them more active transportation-friendly.

[Above photo by Michigan DOT]

Those projects are also part of its larger decade-long statewide Toward Zero Deaths or TZD effort to reduce roadway injuries and fatalities, noted Jason DeGrand, Michigan DOT region operations engineer, in a statement.

The statewide TZD safety campaign parallels a national strategy on highway safety. Though motor vehicle traffic declined nationally during 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic crash deaths increased in 2020 and stayed high through 2021.

For Michigan, preliminary numbers indicate fatal crashes increased 10 percent in 2021, though that the trend reversed slightly in 2022. As of December 6, unofficial data showed that 1,017 people died on Michigan roadways in 2022, a decrease of 50 compared to the same time in 2021. Additionally, 5,304 people sustained serious injuries statewide in motor vehicle crashes, which is 75 fewer compared to the same period in 2021.

Where the U.P. region is concerned, through September 18, unofficial statistics showed 16 people had died on roads in 2022, with 150 seriously injured; some 15 fewer fatalities and 31 fewer serious injuries compared to the same period in 2021.

“Michigan DOT is doing its part in the TZD effort by continuing to invest infrastructure funding into projects that improve the safety of the roadway network,” said Justin Junttila, Michigan DOT region traffic and safety engineer. “The strategy is to address crashes systemically, including at spot locations where a crash pattern has been identified, as funding allows.”

For example, he pointed to an effort begun in 2022 to add more capabilities to its roadside environmental sensor station or ESS network, which is comprised of roadside towers around the peninsula equipped with cameras and instruments.

“The ESS can increase safety by helping MDOT prioritize winter maintenance activities,” he explained – noting that camera images, precipitation, temperatures, wind speed, and other information are available on Michigan DOT’s interactive “Mi Drive Map,” which provides drivers with valuable insight into weather conditions along their planned routes.”

“This year’s sensor upgrades are anticipated to result in less downtime for devices due to age and obsolescence issues,” Junttila said. “Upgraded cameras will provide much better nighttime images, which means our maintenance folks will be able to better prioritize winter snow plowing and road maintenance.”

Michigan DOT also included paved shoulder widening on several U.P. road projects in 2022 to help mitigate lane departure crashes – the number one type of traffic crash in the U.P. In addition, wider paved shoulders provide more room for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel safely on the highway while also helping the agency improve maintenance of the overall roadway area.

“With narrow paved shoulders, we’re constantly adding gravel to deal with the drop-off at the pavement edge caused by erosion,” DeGrand said. “Wider shoulders eliminate the drop-off and result in less worker exposure to traffic dangers.”

The agency also added new traffic detection camera systems at busy intersections in three U.P. counties to help smooth the flow of traffic. Based on the vehicles detected by the camera – which do not record or store video footage, Michigan DOT stressed – in the intersection, sensors adjust traffic signal timing to improve traffic flow.

While those new cameras are not technically safety devices, by improving vehicle detection, they can ultimately boost safety. Those detectors will function better in winter than traditional sensors embedded in the roadway, since snow cannot cover them.

“These projects will create more reliable vehicle detection, which improves the operational efficiency of the intersections,” DeGrand said. “That results in fewer backups and potentially decreases crashes.”

The upgraded traffic signals will also allow MDOT electricians to maintain the equipment remotely or from the roadside cabinet, without having to enter the roadway.”

Tennessee DOT Tallies November Litter Cleanup Numbers

More than 1,300 volunteers statewide removed more than 48,000 pounds of litter in their communities as part of its second-ever month-long “No Trash November” roadway cleanup effort spearheaded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The agency sponsors this annual litter prevention campaign – called “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” – with Keep Tennessee Beautiful affiliates and Adopt-A-Highway groups.

“Litter is more than an eyesore. It’s an enormous burden to the state with impacts on public health and safety, the environment, and the economy,” said Denise Baker, who works in the Tennessee DOT Highway Beautification Office, in a statement.

“Our No Trash November partners are passionate about keeping their communities safe, clean, and beautiful and we are thrilled with their continued support for this campaign,” she added. “We encourage all Tennesseans to keep up the momentum by taking personal responsibility for the litter in their neighborhoods and participating in local cleanups or the Adopt-A-Highway program.”

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in a wide range of anti-littering efforts.

For example, in August, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”

The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May.

Meanwhile, in July, Ohio launched a new litter control program launched, one administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation, that seeks to broaden engagement by the business community in its trash removal efforts.

That new Ohio program allows businesses and groups to fund litter removal services along one-mile, one-direction segments of state highways. In exchange for their sponsorship, Ohio DOT displays the name of the business or group on a sign within their sponsored segment.

Concurrently, the Texas Department of Transportation recruited popular singer, songwriter, and actor Joe Jonas to star in a series of Public Service Announcements as part of the agency’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-littering campaign.

The agency said the “show-stopping” performer – a former Westlake, Texas, resident – takes an “over-the-top” approach in the PSAs to remind folks to keep Texas roadways free of litter.