skip navigation
print icon Print

Sustainability

Recent Developments

Filter by :    
select
 | 
select
 | 
select
    Reset

This section describes recent developments related to transportation-related sustainability. 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.

«View Recent Developments Archive

NACTO Issues Global Street Design Guide

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has issued its Global Street Design Guide to provide a baseline for effective design of urban streets. Effective urban street design creates accessibility, mobility and enhanced public health for all. The guide includes operational and management strategies to help roadways function for large numbers of vehicles and design controls to determine the physical design of streets to ensure accessibility and safety. Proper planning and maintenance of utilities to increase economic viability and the importance of effective intersection design also are highlighted. For more information, link to the guide. (5-16-17)

[back to top]

Report Looks at Electrification, Automation, Shared Mobility ‘Revolutions’

A report on the costs and benefits of three “revolutions” in transportation – vehicle electrification, automation, and shared mobility – has been issued by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. The report finds that vehicle electrification and automation could significantly increase congestion and urban sprawl, while also increasing the likelihood of missing climate change targets, unless they are combined with a shift toward shared mobility and greater use of transit and active transportation. This shift could be achieved through policies that support compact, mixed use development. Such efforts could save cities an estimated $5 trillion annually by 2050 while improving livability and helping to address climate change. For more information, link to the report. (5-15-17)

[back to top]

Caltrans Awards $9.2 Million in Sustainable Transportation Grants

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded $9.2 million in sustainable transportation planning grants. Of those funds, $1.5 million was awarded to encourage regional agencies to partner with Caltrans to address deficiencies in the state highway system. The remaining award money was provided to focus on mobility issues of environmental justice and disadvantaged communities and encourage stakeholder collaboration. The grants are to support local governments in planning and studying for complete streets, connectivity, multimodal transportation, corridors and transit hubs. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-24-17)

[back to top]

FHWA Announces 2017 Environmental Excellence Award Recipients

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the recipients of the 2017 environmental excellence award. The recipients received awards for projects that address organization and process innovation, natural environment and human environment. Projects include the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Impaired Waters Program, Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study and the I-70 Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane in Colorado. The recipients were chosen based on innovative initiatives that incorporate environmental stewardship and streamlining into transportation planning and project development. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-24-17)

[back to top]

NCSL Develops Database on Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a legislative database concerning autonomous vehicles. The database includes the current status of 2017 legislation for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including vehicle testing, vehicle inspection requirements, insurance and liability and cybersecurity of vehicles. For more information, link to the database. (2-28-17)

[back to top]

Civil Engineers Issue 2017 Infrastructure Report Card

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its 2017 infrastructure report card, distributed every four years to assign a letter grade rating the physical conditions and needed investments for infrastructure improvement. The nation was given a D+ rating overall for 16 categories of infrastructure. Individually, the report card gave a rating of C+ for bridges, indicating that 9.1 percent of bridges were structurally deficient and rehabilitation needs are $123 billion. The report card provides a grade of D for roads due to poor conditions and increased traffic congestion and fatalities. Transit received a D- due to increased demand without significant funding, but rail transportation has a grade of B because of significant capital investment. The report card also addresses aviation, energy, dams and levees, ports, parks, schools, solid waste and wastewater. For more information link to the report card. (3-9-17)

[back to top]

Report Highlights Energy Needs of Changing Transportation Sector

The Department of Energy has issued a report concerning the changing transportation sector and its impact on energy consumption. The report focuses on the rise of the shared economy, increased urbanization, and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and how these trends affect the need for energy-efficient, low carbon technologies for transportation. The report discusses incremental policy change, the prevalence of personal vehicle ownership and shared mobility vehicles in the future. The report also discusses the adoption of zero-emission vehicles; an increase in urban sprawl; increase in higher-occupancy vehicle trips; and a predominance of low-occupancy ridership. For more information, link to the report. (2-24-17)

[back to top]

National Conference of State Legislatures Focuses on Car Sharing

The National Conference of State Legislatures has posted an online resource with information on car sharing. Car sharing is a membership-based service that provides members with an insured vehicle that they can drive themselves rather than waiting to be picked up. The information includes current research concerning round-trip car sharing, one-way car sharing and peer-to-peer car sharing. It also focuses on state support and policies, car sharing taxation and the electrification of car sharing fleets. For more information, link to the resource. (2-7-17)

[back to top]

Survey Shows MPOs Using Performance Measures to Evaluate Spending

A survey addressing how metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are using performance measures to evaluate their spending has been conducted by Transportation for America. The survey found that 75 percent of MPOs are already using performance measures in some fashion but only 30 percent of MPOs utilize performance measures to evaluate specific projects for inclusion in the fiscally constrained five-year plans that govern all short-term spending. The survey also found that two-thirds of all agencies want to become national leaders in using performance measures and nearly half of MPOs surveyed chose equity and/or health as one of the five additional goals they are interested in measuring and assessing. For more information, link to the press release and survey results. (2-9-17)

[back to top]

APTA Recognizes Transit Authorities for Sustainability Accomplishments

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has recognized the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and the Foothill Transit Authority, in West Covina, Calif., for their achievements in sustainability. The Cleveland RTA reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 24 percent due to investments in alternatively fueled vehicles and is currently at the Silver status in APTA’s Sustainability Commitment program. Foothill Transit has reached Platinum Level in the program due to cutting water consumption by almost 30 percent and by pioneering the adoption of bus fleet electrification. For more information, link to the announcements addressing Cleveland and Foothill Transit. (1-27-17)

[back to top]

Report Evaluates Effectiveness of Value Pricing Pilot Program

The Federal Highway Administration has published a report addressing the effectiveness of the Value Pricing Pilot Program through April 2016. The program, established in 1991, was designed to demonstrate the technical feasibility of reducing roadway congestion through the application of demand-based pricing strategies, or congestion pricing. The program has funded more than 135 congestion pricing projects and studies across 19 states and the District of Columbia and has helped spark the adoption of managed lanes and other related demand management programs in metropolitan areas nationwide. For more information, link to the report. (1-31-17)

[back to top]

USDOT Issues Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act Report

The Department of Transportation has released a report to Congress concerning the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The report is required biennially and provides the state of financial performance of projects receiving TIFIA funds. TIFIA provides credit assistance to surface transportation projects that address highways, transit, rail and intermodal freight and has provided 13 loans to support 11 projects since 2014. The report includes project examples that address the connection of light rail transit lines, roadway improvements to increase airport access, congestion-based tolling and project delivery through private-public partnerships. For more information, link to the report. (1-25-17)

[back to top]

FHWA Releases Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Resource Collection

The Federal Highway Administration has released a collection of resources concerning vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) to accelerate deployment of V2I communication systems. The systems capture vehicle-generated traffic data through hardware, software, firmware and wireless communication. The resources include a primer on connected vehicle impacts, references for connected vehicle planning processes and products and analysis tools, techniques and data concerning highway capacity and traffic simulation models. The resources also provide a guide to licensing dedicated short range communications for road side units and resources for connected vehicle training. For more information, link to the resources. (1-19-17)

[back to top]

FHWA Releases Report on Sustainable Pavement Systems

The Federal Highway Administration has released a reference document concerning sustainable pavement systems. The reference analyzes sustainability considerations throughout the entire pavement life cycle and highlights the importance of recognizing context sensitivity. The report addresses sustainability concepts, pavement materials, maintenance and preservation treatments and considerations for the construction phase, the use phase and the end-of-life phase. The report also provides a list of technologies and innovations and sustainability trends. For more information, link to the report. (1-23-17)

[back to top]

USDOT Releases 5-Year Strategic Plan for Transportation System

The Department of Transportation has released a five-year strategic plan concerning research, development and technology. The report identifies research priorities for fiscal years 2017-2021 concerning the current and future performance of the nation’s transportation system. The report addresses several solutions from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to mitigate the effects of transportation activities on climate change. Solutions include development of pollinator-friendly practices for sustainable highway roadsides; deployment of clean technology transit buses under the Low and No Emissions Program; increased pipeline safety research and development; and research concerning aircraft energy use, noise and air pollutant emissions. For more information, link to the plan. (1-13-17)

[back to top]

USDOT Releases Beyond Traffic 2045 Final Report

The Department of Transportation has released the final draft of its Beyond Traffic 2045 report. The report found that the U.S. transportation system, and the current planning and funding mechanisms, will not meet the demands presented by population growth, climate change and new technologies like driverless cars. The report is a comprehensive study of the major trends that will shape the U.S.’s transportation system over the next 30 years. The report also outlines three strategies that will ensure the U.S. can meet the coming challenges: take better care of legacy transportation systems; fund and prioritize new projects based on future projections; and use technologies and better design approaches to maximize the use of old and new transportation assets. For more information, link to the report. (1-9-17)

[back to top]

NCHRP Issues Guide on Freight in Smart Growth Communities

The Transportation Research Board has released a guide to address the movement of goods and services by commercial vehicles within smart growth environments under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The report, Research Report 844, defines six categories for smart growth communities and includes strategies for adapting to changing markets, working with stakeholders, adding smaller delivery vehicles to fleets and identifying and supporting route networks. The report also provides case studies that address communities transitioning to housing and entertainment districts and mixed-use and/or recreation and older commercial and neighborhood areas being revitalized. For more information, link to the report. (1-7-17)

[back to top]

USDOT Releases Report Detailing Results of Smart City Challenge

The Department of Transportation has released a report detailing the results of the Smart City Challenge, which offered mid-sized cities the chance to win $50 million with their ideas for creating an integrated, smart transportation system. The report describes the solutions presented by the seven finalists, including the winner, Columbus, Ohio. The report summarizes the commonly-proposed ideas, including inductive wireless charging to charge electric vehicles; implementing a unified traffic or transportation data analytics platform; and creating vehicle to infrastructure communication with dedicated short range technology. For more information, link to the report and a public database of all proposals from applicant cities. (1-3-17)

[back to top]

TRB Releases Journal Addressing Intelligent Transportation Systems

The Transportation Research Board has published a compilation of 15 papers exploring intelligent transportation systems and connected and automated vehicles in Volume 2559 of its Transportation Research Record journal. The journal address topics such as autonomous vehicle driving in complex urban environments, the readiness of automated driving systems for public operation, and the optimal connectivity-based deployment of roadside units for vehicular networks in urban areas. The journal also addresses forward collision warning based on vehicle-to-vehicle communications and operational concepts for truck maneuvers with cooperative adaptive cruise control. For more information, link to the journal. (12-19-16)

[back to top]

Colorado DOT Project Plans Road That Recharges Electric Vehicles

The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced plans for an pilot project that would build into a public road power coils that allows electric vehicles to recharge while moving. Through the use of inductive charging, the project is intended to allow electric vehicles to travel farther with smaller battery packs and still maintain an effective travel range for commercial operations. The project is a result of an agreement reached this month between CDOT’s RoadX program and the engineering firm AECOM, and the potential benefits include the increased use of heavy-duty trucks powered by electricity. For more information, link to the AASHTO article. (12-16-16)

[back to top]

DOE to Use Nearly $20 Million to Fund Energy Efficient Transportation

The Department of Energy has announced $19.7 million to support the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies, including batteries, lightweight materials and advanced combustion engines, and innovative technologies for energy efficient mobility. The DOE seeks to fund projects in four areas of interest that apply to light, medium and heavy-duty on-road vehicles; energy efficient mobility; and transportation infrastructure systems. For more information, link to the press release. (12-14-16)

[back to top]

FHWA Report Highlights Integrated Corridor Management, Smart Cities

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report concerning the synthesis of integrated corridor management (ICM) and smart city initiatives. The report highlights examples of smart city operations both domestically and in Europe that indicate various opportunities for ICM resulting in coordinated traffic management, incident response and proactive responses to severe weather and natural disasters. The report also addresses the benefits and challenges for institutional, operational and technical integration. For more information, link to the report. (12-12-16)

[back to top]

USDOT Proposed Rule Advances Connected Vehicle Technology

The Department of Transportation has released a proposed rule that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The rule requires automakers to include vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies in all new light-duty vehicles and requires V2V devices to speak the same language through standardized messaging developed within the industry. The V2V devices would use dedicated short range communications to transmit data to nearby vehicles, helping V2V equipped vehicles to identify ricks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes. For more information, link to press release and the proposed rule. (12-13-16)

[back to top]

Report Examines Effect Housing Has on Vehicle Miles Traveled

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation has released a report that examines how current affordable housing policies, programs and strategies are enabling low income households to access jobs and transit-rich communities. The report, “The Effect That State and Federal Housing Policies Have on Vehicle Miles of Travel,” examines the trade-offs of rescaling housing voucher thresholds and found that affordable housing near rail does not show signs of being systematically more expensive that other projects. The report also showed that policy factors may be more pronounced in driving affordable housing costs upwards. For more information, link to the report. (11-10-16)

[back to top]

USDOT Seeks ‘Beyond Traffic’ Innovation Centers Applicants

The U.S. Department of Transportation is soliciting applicants to be designated as U.S. DOT Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers. The designated centers will help to drive solutions to the challenges identified in the DOT’s “Beyond Traffic 2045” report issued in 2015, including 45 percent more freight on the roads and 70 million more people living in the U.S. by 2045. The centers will meet these challenges through research, curriculum, outreach and other activities. Applications are due Dec. 21, 2016. For more information, link to the press release. (12-7-16)

[back to top]

USDOT Issues $300 Million in University Transportation Center Grants

The Department of Transportation has announced $300.3 million in five-year grants for 32 university transportation centers under the University Transportation Centers Grant Program. The program funds academic research on issues concerning long-term sustainability of the nation’s transportation system and provides opportunities for future transportation professionals. The awards amount up to $72.5 million for fiscal year 2016 and includes annual awards for FY2017-FY2020. The recipients are composed of two and four-year institutions in various locations across the U.S, with five national centers or institutes and seven regional centers. The recipients must address topics that include improving mobility of people and goods; reducing congestion; promoting safety; improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; preserving the environment; and preserving the existing transportation system. For more information, link to the press release and recipients. (12-5-16)

[back to top]

FHWA Announces Round 3 of INVEST Funding

The Federal Highway Administration has announced a new round of funding for pilot projects that use the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST). The INVEST tool is a collection of voluntary best practices designed to help transportation agencies conduct self-assessments. The Round 3 solicitation is open to state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations and federal land management agencies. Interested agencies should send a five to ten page letter of interest by Jan. 5, 2017. A webinar is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2016, at 2:30 p.m. EST to inform interested parties about the Round 3 solicitation. For more information, link to the solicitation announcement. (11-17-16)

[back to top]

Groups Release Global Street Design Guide

The National Association of City Transportation Officials and the Global Designing Cities Initiative have released the Global Street Design Guide, the first-ever worldwide standard for redesigning city streets to prioritize safety, pedestrians, transit and sustainable mobility. The guide shifts the parameters of designing urban streets from the typical point of view of automobile movement and safety to include access, safety and mobility for all users; environmental quality; economic benefit; enhancement of place; public health; and overall quality of life. For more information, link to the announcement. (10-13-16)

[back to top]

Summary Describes Benefits of Road Diets, Provides Examples

The Federal Highway Administration has released a summary describing policy benefits of road diets. Road diets reallocate travel lanes to utilize space for alternative travel modes. The most common type involves a reduction in the number of through lanes from four to two, with a center two-way left-turn lane. The document describes numerous safety, operational, and multimodal benefits and agency examples from states including Florida, Maine, Michigan and Missouri. The document also highlights the incorporation of road diets into resurfacing and existing agency plans, including highway safety plans. For more information, link to the document. (10-13-16)

[back to top]

White House Announces New Funding to Expand Smart Cities Initiative

The Obama Administration has announced over $80 million in new federal investments intended to double participation in the Smart Cities Initiative. These new investments and related programs are intended to address energy and climate challenges; urban transportation; public safety, resilience and disaster response; and the transformation of city services. The Smart Cities Initiative was launched in September 2015 to help cities, federal agencies, universities and the private sector to collaborate on new technologies that can make cities more livable, cleaner and more equitable. For more information, link to the fact sheet. (9-26-16)

[back to top]

Federal Policy for Automated Vehicles Issued by the U.S. DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a federal policy regarding the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles. The policy sets a proactive approach through four key parts: a 15 point safety assessment for the safe design, development, testing and deployment of automated vehicles; model state policy; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s current regulatory tools; and possible new regulatory authority. While the policy’s primary focus is on highly automated vehicles, portions of it apply to lower levels of automation, including some of the driver-assistance systems already in production. For more information, link to the press release. (9-20-16)

[back to top]

White House Announces Federal Agency Sustainability Plans/GreenGov Awards

The White House has announced the release of federal agency sustainability performance plans. The plans detail how federal agencies are working to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase the use of renewable energy, reduce water and energy usage in buildings, improve efficiency of federal vehicles, and enhance climate resilience. The White House also announced the winners of the 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, which recognizes achievement in promoting sustainability within the government. For more information, link to the press release. (9-7-16)

[back to top]

Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    Arizona DOT’s Sustainable Transportation Program has implemented solutions such as this roundabout and other features on US 89.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Arizona DOT

View All Case Studies for this Topic >

New - items posted in the last 7 days

AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
skip navigation