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Sustainability

Recent Developments

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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.

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Boston Landing Station Awarded Sustainable Infrastructure Award

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure has awarded the Envision Silver Sustainable Infrastructure Award to a commuter rail station in Boston. The Boston Landing Station was completed as part of a public-private partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to provide rail access to the Allston-Brighton neighborhood. The station connects pedestrian walkways, bike paths, bus routes, and roads and provides bike storage areas. The station also is equipped with LED lighting and was constructed with over 50 percent of recycled content and 95 percent of locally sourced materials. In addition, commuter times are expected to reduce by 20 minutes or more for those traveling to downtown Boston. For more information, link to the announcement. (11-7-17)

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FHWA Report Outlines Strategies for Sustainable Highway Rest Areas

Strategies for sustainable design and operation of highway rest areas are outlined in a report issued by the Federal Highway Administration. Sustainable strategies include green building design elements, such as daylighting, passive heating and cooling techniques, and choosing sustainable materials. Operations strategies also can reduce energy and water usage, cut waste, and minimize environmental impacts, the report said. These include on-site renewable energy systems that use solar, wind, and geothermal resources. The report also includes case studies from state transportation agencies in Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, and Vermont. For more information, link to the report. (10-30-17)

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Report Assesses Electric Vehicles for Commercial, Nonroad Uses

The Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has issued a report on the potential for using electric vehicles for government, commercial, and industrial purposes. The report focuses on highway vehicles that are not personal transport; non-highway modes such as rail, watercraft, and airport support; and non-road equipment used directly or in support of other uses. The report finds that electric vehicles are poorly suited for long-haul trucking but have potential for other vehicles where savings on fuel costs could be significant, such as transit buses, school buses, regional and local delivery trucks, utility service vehicles, and refuse trucks. The report also finds that low supply and low demand is hampering the development of options for commercial fleets, and that successful development will be a long process involving research and development, manufacturing, purchasing, and new regulations. For more information, link to the report. (10-20-17)

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Successes in Stewardship Newsletter Highlights Use of INVEST

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) application of the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) is addressed in the Federal Highway Administration’s new issue of its Successes in Stewardship newsletter. ADOT began using INVEST in 2010 and is now developing quantitative measures for sustainability to see the cost savings of sustainability practices and to report on social and environmental conditions. ADOT is also implementing a development checklist to ensure that project managers are considering several sustainable practices. ADOT has chosen various projects to pilot INVEST and plans to collaborate with FHWA’s Office of Asset Management, Pavements, and Construction to develop environmental product declarations to provide the life-cycle assessments and cost analyses for pavement materials. For more information, link to the newsletter. (September 2017)

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Group Releases Framework for Funding Sustainable Infrastructure

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has released a framework to aid state and local governments in building infrastructure to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. The Investment Design Framework, accompanies EDF’s Unlocking Private Capital to Finance Sustainable Infrastructure report, to encourage investment in sustainable infrastructure. Using case studies in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, and Louisiana, it highlights the potential for financial resources such as green bonds and public-private partnerships. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-21-17)

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FHWA Displays New Driving and Communications Technologies

The Federal Highway Administration has conducted a demonstration to test the effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle communications technologies. The demonstration successfully showed three-truck platoons using Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) technology, which allows trucks to follow each other more closely and travel more efficiently. CACC adds vehicle-to-vehicle communications to cruise control capabilities. Technologies demonstrated were the results of a four-year research project. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-14-17)

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APTA Announces Sustainability Commitment Awards

The American Public Transportation Association has honored eight of its member organizations for their efforts in sustainability, awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze Level recognition under the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. Amtrak received Gold Level for the implementation of energy efficiency lighting, LEED-certified stations, and facility-based energy plans. TRC Companies, of Lowell, Mass., also received Gold Level for achieving reductions per employee of electricity usage (16 percent), natural gas (2 percent), and emissions (9 percent). Silver and Bronze Level recipients include the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Nev., the Jacksonville, Fla., Transportation Authority, and the Transit Authority of River City, in Louisville, Ky. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-1-17)

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FHWA Highlights Environmental Excellence Award Winners

The Federal Highway Administration has released its final report describing the winners of the 2017 Environmental Excellence Awards. The awards honor projects in 16 categories related to natural environment, human environment, and organization and process innovation. The FHWA recognized projects that include construction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel and the Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study, which analyzed how local-scale air quality and human health are impacted by changes in transportation networks. Projects also include the development of the Virginia Central Railway Trail to provide a network of trails for multimodal transportation and the Massachusetts’ Impaired Water Program that helps to mitigate the impact of highway runoff on water quality. For more information, link to the 2017 Environmental Excellence Awards web page. (8-15-17)

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Three Fact Sheets on Technology Research Issued by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has released three new fact sheets resulting from the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program. One describes research on the development of self-powered wireless sensors that can monitor structural health or assess bridge conditions. Another fact sheet discusses research on the fuel savings and reduced emissions from the use of cooperative adaptive cruise control in multivehicle platoons. A third fact sheet describes research on the use of adaptive materials or “smart” bearings that can regulate their stiffness and damping properties in response to loading information received from the bridge that they support. The EAR Program focuses on long-term, high-risk research with a high payoff potential. For more information, link to the fact sheets on wireless bridge sensors, truck platooning, and intelligent infrastructure. (8-15-17)

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Pew Charitable Trusts Highlights Sustainable Highway of the Future

New technologies for sustainable highway development along the Alabama-Georgia border are highlighted by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The project, called The Ray, may be the world’s first road that generates its own renewable energy and income by selling power to utility companies. The project is a collaboration between the Georgia Department of Transportation and other state agencies, private companies and a family foundation that would improve stormwater management and provide facilities such as a drive-through tire safety station. A solar “tree” with 12 photovoltaic panels that serves as a charging station for electric vehicles and a drivable solar pavement that powers a visitors center on I-85 are also part of The Ray. Project developers are planning to incorporate solar road studs to collect data concerning weather and wildlife crossings that would be sent to drivers electronically. For more information, link to the Pew Charitable Trusts. (6-8-17)

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FHWA Case Studies Highlight Improvement to Public Spaces

The Federal Highway Administration has added new case studies as part of its Livable Communities Case Study Series. The first case study addresses the Transforming Forest Avenue study conducted by Portland, Maine, and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System to identify accessibility improvements along the corridor. The study resulted in the construction of vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure safety improvements, and the addition of curb extensions and reconstructed sidewalks at Woodford’s Corner. The second case study highlights freight traffic volume at the inland port within Lewiston, Idaho. The city implemented a downtown improvement organization and context sensitive strategies to alleviate heavy industrial land use and create a pedestrian crosswalk awareness program to improve public spaces. The city also built a bike lane and narrowed traffic lanes to help achieve community goals. For more information, link to the Portland and Lewiston case studies. (6-26-17)

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TRB Provides Practice Solutions For Use of Warm Mix Asphalt

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has issued research highlights on the use of warm mix asphalt (WMA) as a practice-ready solution. The document presents information on moisture susceptibility issues when water is added to create a foam binder in WMA preparation. A comparison study to understand WMA as an alternative to HMA pavement is also highlighted and indicates that the material differences are negligible. WMA has growing acceptance among state departments of transportation despite some barriers, and broader implementation could be possible by facilitating discussions between state DOTs. For more information, link to the solutions document. (6-20-17)

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NACTO Launches 'Green Light for Green Streets' Initiative

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has launched its Green Light for Green Streets initiative. The project identifies factors that slow implementation of transportation projects in cities in the U.S. NACTO, with support from several partners, will collaborate with pilot cities throughout the year to improve the effectiveness of applying street designs and transportation improvements. Cities will be able to align resources with goals by addressing structural challenges that impede project and program delivery. For more information, link to the announcement. (6-6-17)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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