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Air Quality

Recent Developments

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Listed below are recent developments pertinent to air quality from the past six months.  If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Sustainability News

The Federal Highway Administration has published the February/March 2017 newsletter highlighting air quality and sustainability news. The newsletter includes information concerning the Executive Order on energy independence and economic growth, Q&A on emergency relief program and resilience and the Atlanta peer exchange on climate resilience. The newsletter also includes information regarding new resilience elements in the transportation planning rule and project development assessment of climate change and lists upcoming meetings, conferences, workshops, and training opportunities. For more information, link to the newsletter. (4-17-17)

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EPA to Hold Teleconference on Air Quality Regulatory Actions

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation has scheduled a public teleconference to obtain feedback on air- and radiation-related regulatory actions. The teleconference will be held on April 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. The dial-in number is (800) 305-3182, conference ID# 8535873. Callers may nominate themselves to speak by hitting *1 to be added to a queue. Speakers will be asked to deliver 3 minutes of remarks and will be called on a first come, first served basis. The teleconference will be transcribed and will be added to the docket. Individuals that do not have the opportunity to speak on the call may submit input to the EPA-wide docket (docket number: EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190). (4-17-17)

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Smart Growth America Highlights Complete Streets Success Under FAST Act

Successful implementation of complete streets provisions under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is addressed in a report from Smart Growth America. Under the provisions, National Highway System road designs are required to incorporate access for all modes of transportation and local governments are permitted to use their own design guide to creating complete streets projects. Examples of success include the development of projects along I-40 in Oklahoma City to expand bikesharing and in Atlanta where the city is devoting $109 million to complete streets improvements over the next five years. An emphasis on project planning, design and implementation is what has made the complete streets approach so fruitful. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-6-17)

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Transportation Conformity Guide for States, Local Areas Released

The Federal Highway Administration has released a guide for state and local officials addressing determinations of whether transportation improvements conform to the air quality objectives in state implementation plans. The guide describes a conformity determination and addresses the responsibility for making those determinations. The guide includes the elements of a conformity determination, such as interagency consultation and regional emissions analysis, and highlights options for metropolitan planning organizations to reduce emissions. The guide also addresses project-level conformity and hot-spot analysis required for federal highway and transit projects. For more information, link to the guide. (February 2017)

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WRI Report Describes Low Emission Zone/Congestion Charging Scheme

The World Resources Institute, in coordination with the Beijing Transport Institute, has released a report regarding the low emission zone and congestion charging (LEZ/CC) scheme. The report focuses on surcharges within congested road areas and the designation of emission control areas to reduce vehicle pollutants in London, Singapore and Stockholm to assist similar efforts in China. The report includes city history of transportation policies, stakeholder engagement efforts and congestion pricing system performance and its effects on traffic within each city. The report also identifies best practices and indicates that forms of legal safeguards from national government, strong policy objectives and equity and transparency are key to successful implementation of the LEZ/CC scheme. For more information, link to the report. (3-28-17)

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Economic Potential of Low-Carbon Natural Gas Analyzed in New Report

The long-term economic potential of low-carbon natural gas (LCNG) within the transportation sector is explored in a report by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. The report addresses the use of LCNG, which includes methane from biomass and fossil gas mixed with hydrogen, in light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The report includes data concerning woody and herbaceous feedstocks to produce biogas to determine total resource potential for LCNG production and an analysis of projected transportation fuel demand. The report also analyzes emissions regarding a vehicle’s cumulative emissions on a per-mile-traveled basis and includes calculations for each LCNG pathway’s total cost. For more information, link to the report. (3-18-17)

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EPA to Revisit Greenhouse Gas Standards for Light-Duty Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have announced that the EPA will reconsider a final determination regarding the midterm evaluation of greenhouse gas standards for light duty vehicles from model years 2022-2025. The previous determination found that automakers were well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previously estimated. The reconsideration will be coordinated with the parallel process to be undertaken by the DOT’s National Highway Transportation Administration regarding corporate average fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the same model years. EPA intends to make a new final determination regarding the appropriateness of the greenhouse gas standards by April 1, 2018. For more information, link to the EPA midterm evaluation website and to the notice. (3-15-17)

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Travel Demand Forecasting Covered in Transportation Research Record

Fifteen research papers on travel demand forecasting are included in the Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Research Record. Papers include transportation planning though peer-to-peer modeling, microsimulation of demand and supply of autonomous mobility on demand, and the use of predicted bicycle and pedestrian route choice to enhance mode choice models. It also includes papers on assumptions inherent in assessing traffic forecast accuracy, evaluation of transport user benefits and measurement of self-selection effects to understand travel behavior impacts. For more information, link to the report. (3-5-17)

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Guidance on Alternative Fuel Corridor Signs Issued by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has issued guidance concerning use of signs for designated alternative fuel corridors. The guidance, which notes that such signs are not mandatory, specifies that all signs that are developed for such corridors should use simplified message content with reasonable sign size, while minimizing driver distraction through limited use of the signing and proper placement. The guidance also specifies that general service signage is limited to compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, electric vehicles, hydrogen and liquefied petroleum gas usage. The guidance includes instructions for signs installed on freeways, expressways and conventional roads and provides detailed illustrations of how signs should be presented. Use of such signs is not mandatory. For more information, link to the guidance. (12-21-17)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Climate Change News

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has published the December 2016/January 2017 newsletter highlighting air quality and climate change news. The newsletter includes information concerning the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on guidelines for air quality models, the proposed 2015 Ozone Standard Implementation Rule and updates to the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator 2014a. The newsletter also provides information on the 6th Transportation Research Board annual meeting and lists upcoming meetings, conferences, workshops, and training opportunities. For more information, link to the newsletter. (2-2-17)

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FHWA Updates CMAQ Toolkit for Diesel Technologies

The Federal Highway Administration has announced an update to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Emission Calculator Toolkit. The update adds a module for advanced diesel truck/engine technologies, which includes an on-road activity calculator, an on-road diesel repower or replacement calculator and an on-road diesel retrofits calculator. The tool also provides users with Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator documentation with national-scale run parameters to support calculation of on-road diesel retrofit and on-road repower/replacement. For more information, link to the toolkit. (1-6-17)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Climate Change News

The Federal Highway Administration has published the October/November 2016 newsletter highlighting air quality and climate change news. The newsletter includes information on the updated interim guidance on mobile source air toxics analysis in NEPA documents, the designation of alternative fuel corridors, the updated greenhouse gas emission reduction policy analysis tool, INVEST case studies, recordings and the congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program emission reductions calculator. The newsletter also lists upcoming meetings, conferences, workshops, training opportunities and deadlines. For more information, link to the newsletter. (11-29-16)

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FHWA Issues Guidance for Quantitative Mobile Source Air Toxics Analyses

The Federal Highway Administration has issued recommendations for conducting quantitative analyses of mobile source air toxics emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The guidance, which follows a recently issued interim guidance update, includes the scope of the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model, and information concerning gathering input data and post-processing results. The document also specifies how to define the affected environment for calculating changes in emissions and provides templates for MSAT RunSpec and MSAT county data manager. For more information, link to the guidance. (11-1-16)

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EPA Issues Recommendations for Improving Near-Road Air Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a research report with recommendations for constructing roadside vegetation barriers to improve near-road air quality. The report encompasses barrier design recommendations, characteristics for best vegetative barriers, benefits of combining vegetation with solid noise barriers and various other resources. The EPA has conducted field studies, wind tunnel assessments and modeling to examine the role of roadside barriers in reducing pollution near homes, schools and other buildings near major roadways. The report indicates that reduction in pollution is greater when vegetative barriers are thick with coverage from the ground to top of the canopy. For more information, link to the fact sheet. (11-2-16)

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EPA Report Highlights Automotive Technology, Emissions and Fuel Economy Trends

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its report on trends in light-duty automotive technology, carbon dioxide emissions and fuel economy from 1975 to 2016. The report includes data based on annual production volumes of new personal vehicles delivered for sale in the U.S. by model year that include passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, pickup trucks and vans. The report analyzes fleetwide trends by vehicle class, type, attribute, manufacturer, and make and examines conventional technologies. Recent trends indicate that conventional hybrid technology has enabled manufacturers to offer high fuel economy vehicles with much greater utility while also meeting emissions and safety standards. Recent trends also suggest that some manufacturers have been able to adopt technology faster than industry-wide data has indicated. For more information, link to the report. (11-2-16)

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FHWA Updates Guidance for Mobile Source Air Toxic Analysis in NEPA Documents

The Federal Highway Administration has issued an updated interim guidance for mobile source air toxic (MSAT) analysis in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. The FHWA is updating the 2012 interim guidance by incorporating new analysis conducted using the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest update of the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) vehicle emissions model, MOVES2014a. Based on the use of MOVES2014a, diesel particulate matter remains the dominant MSAT of concern for highway projects. The FHWA also has released the revised status of scientific research on air toxics. For more information, link to the updated interim guidance. (10-27-16)

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FHWA Provides New Resources for 'It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air' Initiative

The Federal Highway Administration has added new resources to its “It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air” website, including new ideas and marketing materials to help communities reduce traffic congestion and pollution. The site also highlights success stories such as the Georgia DOT’s Georgia Commute Options Program, which helps reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel by facilitating carpooling and promoting vanpooling and bicycling to work. The initiative provides tools to help mitigate congestion and promote alternative modes of transportation. For more information, link to the materials and success story. (10-7-16)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Climate Change News

The Federal Highway Administration has published the August/September 2016 newsletter highlighting air quality and climate change news. The newsletter includes information on the release of the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s final guidance for federal agencies on how to consider climate change in environmental reviews, the final report on the climate resilience pilot program, proposed and final rules being released, and the release of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program emissions reductions calculator. The newsletter also lists upcoming meetings, conferences, workshops, and deadlines. For more information, link to the newsletter. (9-30-16)

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FHWA Releases Module of the CMAQ Emissions Calculator Toolkit

The Federal Highway Administration has released the first module of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Emissions Calculator Toolkit. The toolkit provides resources departments of transportation can use for the implementation of the CMAQ program, which supports surface transportation projects and related efforts that contribute to improved air quality and provide congestion relief. The traffic flow improvement tool is one of a series of spreadsheet-based tools to facilitate the calculation of representative air quality benefit data, for CMAQ project justification as well as the annual reporting requirements. Additional toolkit modules are under development. For more information, link to the toolkit. (9-26-16).

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EPA Announces 2016 SmartWay Excellence Awardees

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized its 2016 SmartWay excellence awardees. Nine retailer, manufacturer and logistic company partners from various states such as California, Florida and Georgia were awarded for their efforts at reducing freight emissions. The improvements were accomplished through collaboration, advanced technology and operational practices, a robust system for validating and reporting data, and public outreach. It is estimated that SmartWay partners have avoided emitting 72 million metric tons of carbon pollution change and saved over 170 million barrels of oil and $24.9 billion in fuel costs. For more information, link to the press release. (9-27-16)

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EPA Announces $7 Million for School Bus Replacement, Retrofit Rebates

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced the availability of $7 million in rebates for school bus replacement and retrofits for 2016 as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Program. The program was reauthorized under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 to encourage school bus fleet turnover. The rebates provide funding to public and private fleet owners to replace school buses powered by model year 2006 or older engines with new buses powered by 2016 or newer model year engine, or that operate on electricity. Assistance is also provided to retrofit buses powered by model year 1994 to 2006 engines with diesel oxidation catalysts closed crankcase ventilation. Applications for rebates are due Nov. 1, 2016. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-28-2016)

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FHWA Highlights Use of Narrow Lanes and Shoulders to Manage Congestion

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report concerning the application of performance-based practical design solutions for the construction and use of narrower lanes and shoulders on freeways to increase capacity and reduce congestion within the existing footprint. Case studies from Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, Fla., Milwaukee and Washington state, are included regarding the successful development of general purpose lanes, managed lanes and the creation of a lane in an existing interchange. For more information, link to the report. (9-6-16)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    Georgia DOT supports a range of efforts such as the Georgia Commute Options Program to help reduce auto-related air emissions.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Georgia DOT

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