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Sustainability

Recent Developments Archive

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FHWA Announces $14.2 Million to Test New Highway Funding Methods

The Federal Highway Administration has announced $14.2 million in grants for states under a program to explore alternative revenue mechanisms to help sustain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives grant program funds projects to test the design, implementation and acceptance of user-based alternative revenue mechanisms. The money is going toward eight projects that address common challenges to implementing user-based fees and evaluate the reliability and security of the technologies available to implement mileage-based fees. The projects are in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon and Washington State. For more information, link to the press release. (8-30-16)

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EPA Selects Six Communities for the 'Greening America's Communities' Program

The Environmental Protection Agency has selected six communities to support efforts under the Greening America’s Communities Program, which helps cities and towns create environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate green infrastructure and other sustainable design strategies.  EPA will send teams of designers to Brownsville, TX; Columbia, SC; Muscatine, IA; Multnomah County, OR; Honolulu, HI; and Oklahoma City, OK.  Pilot projects include minimizing flooding and establishing walkable connections, stormwater management and cooling of areas affected by climate change, and improvement of streets within neighborhoods to increase safety and quality of life. The projects also address highway redesign, street improvements to support walking and economic development and mitigation techniques focusing on the heat island effect and air quality issues. For more information, link to the report. (8-24-16)

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Report Highlights Net VMT Reduction Due to Car Sharing Services

The UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center has issued a report on the extent to which car sharing affects overall vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The study evaluated the one-way model of car sharing using the membership of the car sharing service car2go in Calgary, San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. The study found that while a majority of car sharing members use the service to satisfy incidental mobility needs, a minority of members either sell their cars or delay the purchase of a new vehicle. These impacts create a net reduction in VMT and related reductions in congestion and tailpipe emissions. For more information, link to the report. (8-8-16)

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FHWA Highlights Livability Initiatives in Tennessee, Washington

The Federal Highway Administration has released two new case studies regarding efforts to advance the concept of livability. The first discusses the South Memphis Renaissance Collaborative (SMRC) in Tennessee, established to facilitate restoration of transportation infrastructure in the South Memphis community. Planning efforts envisioned renovations to the South Parkway road and enhancements to bicycle and pedestrian access to reduce congestion and develop healthier communities. The second case study describes efforts to build a replacement for the South Park Bridge in King County, Washington. The bridge replacement reduced congestion and electricity costs, provided the community greater access to resources and increased functionality of the bridge, and expanded pedestrian and bicycle access. For more information, link to the Tennessee case study and the Washington case study (8-5-16) .

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Public Transit Agencies Recognized for Sustainability Efforts

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has recognized six public transportation organizations for their achievements in sustainability under the APTA Sustainability Commitment Program. Organizations from California, Florida, Michigan and Ohio were acknowledged for their efforts in reducing water usage, increasing renewable power, incorporating alternative fuel vehicles into their fleets and reducing the cost of transportation for low income residents. Since 2009, 133 public transit agencies have signed on to the APTA sustainability commitment and 38 of those agencies have received recognition. For more information, link to the announcement. (7-25-16)

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'Disruptive' Technologies Highlighted in University Report

A report describing potential contributions of “disruptive” transportation technologies has been issued by the Transportation Policy Center at Texas A&M University. Disruptive technologies are considered unproven, lacking refinement, relatively unknown, or even impractical, but they ultimately undermine existing technologies. The report identifies five areas where disruptive innovation may impact the transportation sector and current policies that include: mobile internet, the internet of things, advanced materials, automated vehicle technologies and immersive interfaces. The report also examines current state statutes to understand policy issues such as privacy and data security, safety and demand for roadway infrastructure. For more information, link to the report. (7-21-16) 

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Report Highlights Implementation of Research on Sustainability as an Organizing Principle

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released a brief highlighting the implementation of its report on sustainability as an organizing principal for transportation agencies. The report described ways to organize around the “triple bottom line” of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Departments of transportation from California and New York State each used the report to reframe and better coordinate activities and priorities involving sustainability across departments. The brief is part of a series of success stories which highlight how transportation agencies have put critical NCHRP research results to use nationwide. For more information, link to the brief. (6-30-16)

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TRB Releases Report on Multimobility and Sharing Economy Workshop

The Transportation Research Board has released a report entitled “Multimobility and Sharing Economy: Shaping the Future Market through Policy and Research.” The report explores the results of a workshop that focused on new developments in the shared-mobility sphere, the use of smartphones in pushing the goal of shared mobility forward and on rural and suburban mobility problems. The workshop also explored equity for paratransit options, strategies that could foster increased inclusion and safety standards for automated vehicles. For more information, link to the report. (7-2-16)

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Caltrans Launches New Road Charge Pilot Program

The California Department of Transportation has announced the launch of its new pay-by-mile Road Charge Pilot Program, where volunteers help the state gain insight into an innovative way to finance transportation infrastructure. The program will facilitate the study of road charge alternatives to the gas tax and will provide the state legislature with the data needed to better determine whether a road charge funding concept is viable for the state. The pilot will run from July 2016 to March 2017 and the legislature will make the decision on whether to enact a full-scale permanent road charge program. For more information, link to the article. (7-5-16)  

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FHWA Issues Research on Integrated Corridor Management

The Federal Highway Administration has issued two reports on integrated corridor management (ICM). The first report examines how public transportation and mobility on demand can be incorporated into an ICM approach, while the second explores the incorporation of freight into an ICM approach. Both reports explore opportunities to effectively integrate their subject institutionally, operationally and technically and identify challenges to integration and possible solutions. For more information, link to the reports on transit and freight opportunities. (6-27-16)

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U.S. DOT Announces Columbus as the Winner of the Smart City Challenge

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced Columbus, Ohio, as the winner of the Smart City Challenge. The city will receive up to $40 million from the DOT and up to $10 million from Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners. The city plans to install street-side mobility kiosks, a new bus-rapid transit system, and smart lighting to increase safety for pedestrians and improve access to healthcare for underserved areas and neighborhoods. The city also will install traffic signals that communicate with vehicles so that the signals can adjust in real-time to the flow, rhythm, and demands of traffic. Public-private partnerships were essential to the challenge’s success and include alliances with DC Solar Solutions, Continental Motive and various others. For more information, link to the announcement. (6-23-16)

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EPA Provides Assistance to Six Cities to Develop Sustainable Design Strategies

The EPA has announced that it will provide technical assistance to six U.S. cities under its Greening America’s Communities Program. The cities selected include Columbia, S.C.; Brownsville, Texas; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Muscatine, Iowa; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Multnomah County, Ore. The agency will send a team of designers to each city to implement green infrastructure and other sustainable designs to create more walkable, bikeable and vibrant neighborhoods. For more information, link to the announcement. (6-23-16) 

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Project Launched to Model Carbon-Neutral Transport Policies

The International Transport Forum has launched the Decarbonising Transport Project to bring together ITF’s modeling capabilities with those of outside partners to provide modeling of policy outcomes. The modeling results will be used to establish a commonly acceptable roadmap to zero-carbon transport by 2050. The project will have different paths and schedules across transport modes and regions of the world. The project was inaugurated on May 19 at ITF’s 2016 Summit in Leipzig, Germany. For more information, link to the project page. (5-23-16)

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Arizona DOT Report Highlights Sustainable Transportation Program Efforts

The Arizona DOT has released its 2nd annual report highlighting its sustainable transportation program. The FHWA Sustainable Highways Program and the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) Implementation Program have played an integral part in assessing Arizona’s programs and practices and validating strategic decisions to facilitate sustainability best management practices for the state. The report focuses the state’s efforts to move from implementation to operationalization of the sustainable transportation program itself; and implementation of the operations and maintenance module of INVEST. For more information, link to the report. (5-15-16)

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Planning Association to Recognize Sustainability in Comprehensive Plans

The American Planning Association has announced a pilot program to recognize comprehensive plans that advance sustainability. The pilot program is designed to increase awareness of the importance and value of a comprehensive plan that also addresses a community’s overall sustainability. Plans created in the last five years are eligible and will be scored based on the principles, processes and attributes of the plan. For more information, link to the press release. (5-19-16)

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AASHTO Highlights Commitment of State DOTs to Sustainability

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has released a video highlighting the efforts of the Hawaii Department of Transportation to make its transportation system more sustainable. The video highlights the holistic approach being taken to meet current and future mobility and accessibility needs while protecting environmental resources. AASHTO also highlights how other state agencies are making themselves and their communities greener, including those in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont and Washington. For more information, link to the press release and video. (4-22-16)

 

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FHWA Marks 10-Year Anniversary of the Eco-Logical Approach

The Federal Highway Administration is marking the 10-year anniversary of Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects. Eco-Logical began development in 2006 as the shared vision of eight federal agencies on how infrastructure development and ecosystem conservation could be integrated to harmonize economic, environmental and social needs and objectives. Going forward, the eight agencies are looking to shift from Eco-Logical as an approach to a business-as-usual practice across the government. For more information, link to the webpage. (4-22-16)

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ITF Developing Tool to Achieve Zero Transport Emissions

The International Transport Forum is developing a modeling tool to help achieve zero transport emissions by around 2050. The tool will offer data on pathways to a carbon-neutral transport system through a set of carefully designed indicators. The indicators will cover all transport modes, globally and for each of the world’s regions, and will allow for the testing of alternation scenarios and sensitivity of decarbonisation policies. For more information, link to the overview brochure. (4-8-16)

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FHWA Releases Guidance on Part-Time Shoulder Use

FHWA has released a report focusing on planning, evaluating, and designing part-time shoulder use as a traffic management strategy. Part-time shoulder use can be a cost-effective solution to improving safety and providing congestion relief when it is most needed. The report identifies best practices and synthesizes information gathered from various agencies, subject matter experts and research on safety and operations effects to provide guidance for advancing shoulder use concepts throughout the U.S. For more information, link to the report. (3-30-16)

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Maryland State Highway Administration Develops Tool to Quantify Transportation Benefits

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has developed a software tool to understand the direct benefits of transportation projects as well as the economic impacts. The research team integrated a travel demand model with the SHRP2 C11 and identified millions of dollars in benefits and improved intermodal connectivity within the state resulting from projects such as the Inter-County Connector, Express Toll Lanes, local connector construction and the development of an additional lane along I-695. Such a tool will help state officials in selecting and prioritizing transit improvements and in allocating resources effectively and efficiently. For more information, link to the report. (3-16-16)

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Report Outlines Method to Link Trails with Public Transit

The Florida Department of Transportation has issued a report that describes a method to evaluate intermodal connections between public transportation and public trails for improved livability in Florida communities. Researchers carried out mapping exercises of existing public transit and trail locations together with popular desired destinations such as employment and recreation centers. Then they developed a trail/transit crossing inventory template to conduct audits of conditions present at selected transit/trail junctures, and provided recommendations on how to more strongly connect each of these.  For more information, see the report. (2-16-16)

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Book Addresses Rockfall Hazard Identification, Mitigation

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has released a 600+-page book that addresses rockfall hazard identification, evaluation, and mitigation. Contents cover topics such as the Rockfall Hazard Rating System, instrumentation and monitoring technology, and conducting field test experiments. The publication was developed because although new technologies to support the evaluation and quantification of this hazard have been developed, information to date has not widely available. For more information, see the brochure. (1-20-16)

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Group Urges Innovations for State Transportation Policies

Twelve innovations in transportation policy that states should consider carrying out in 2016 have been proposed by Transportation for America. Citing programs within specific states that are taking the lead, the innovations include the following: awarding funds competitively to the best multi-modal projects; incentivizing communities to implement complete streets policies; and investing in innovation and rewarding the smartest projects. In all cases, says the group says, the transportation policy solutions have either been passed legislatively or instituted through administrative action. For more information, see the report summary. (1-21-16)

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Virginia DOT Adopts Scoring System for Potential Projects

Virginia DOT has announced a new system to score potential transportation projects using a prioritization process that is outcome-based, data-driven, objective, transparent, and merit-based. Nearly 300 transportation projects proposed by localities and regional planning bodies across the state have been scored to date. Criteria include ability to ease congestion, improve economic development, provide job accessibility, improve safety and environmental quality, and support transportation-efficient land use. Prioritized projects are then reviewed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.  For more information, link to the announcement. (1-19-16) 

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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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AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
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