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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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White Paper Analyzes Eco-Driving Information Systems

A white paper describing the use of in-vehicle information systems to modify driver behavior in order to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions has been issued by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation. “Eco-driving”—suites of behavior a driver can engage in to improve fuel economy—is often promoted using such feedback methods as dash or instrument cluster displays, after-market devices, or apps on personal mobile devices. The white paper analyzes a variety of studies of feedback methods to learn what types are most effective for creating better eco-driving. For more information, link to the white paper. (September 2018)

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EPA Announces the 2018 SmartWay Excellence Awards

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced the recipients of the 2018 SmartWay Excellence Awards. The SmartWay Transport Partnership recognizes shipping and logistics companies for improving freight efficiency and contributing to cleaner air within their supply chains. Awardees were chosen based on their effective collaboration, advanced technology and operational practices, system to validate and report their SmartWay data, and communications and public outreach efforts. Fourteen companies will receive the awards on Oct. 29 in Austin, Texas. For more information, link to the SmartWay Excellence Awards. (10-1-18)

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FHWA Opens Nominations for New Alternative Fuel Corridor Designations

The Federal Highway Administration has announced a third round of nominations for Alternative Fuel Corridor designations. The 2018 Request for Nominations (RFN) seeks to add to the 58 designated Interstate corridors or corridor segments, plus 43 U.S. and state highways, in 44 states (including Hawaii) under the first two rounds of the program. This round of corridor designations may provide an opportunity to nominate additional corridors, extend currently designated corridors, or nominate different fuels along an already designated corridor. Nominations are due on Jan. 31, 2019. For more information, link to the announcement. (10-5-18)

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Report Describes Potential for City Fleets to Collect Air Quality Data

The Environmental Defense Fund and fleet tracking system provider Geotab have issued a report on the potential for municipal or commercial fleets to monitor and map ambient air quality in cities. The report says that urban air pollution can be highly localized and mobile data collection and monitoring can better map the realities of pollution dispersal. The report also says that existing fleet tracking data indicate that a small or medium-sized North American municipal fleet could map 50 percent or more of a city with just 10 vehicles, and almost 80 percent of a city with 20 vehicles. Additionally, analysis of such data would inform actions to reduce congestion, support bike infrastructure, and electrify freight and transit. For more information, link to the report. (9-24-18)

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Air Quality Rules for 'Glider' Vehicles Discussed in CRS Report

A report issued by the Congressional Research Service provides an overview of the current status of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency rules in relation to new truck chassis installed with remanufactured engines, known as “glider vehicles.” The report explains how glider vehicles are made, their potential impacts on reginal air quality, and how they are regulated under NHTSA safety standards. The report also discusses the proposed repeal of the glider vehicle requirements and actions in Congress both in favor and in opposition to the repeal. For more information, link to the report. (9-10-18)

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EPA Issues Latest Version of Emissions Model

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued the latest version of its Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES2014b). The new release does not significantly change the onroad criteria pollutant emissions results of MOVES2014 and is not considered a new model for State Implementation Plan (SIP) and transportation conformity purposes. The agency has issued new question-and-answer guidance, technical guidance, installation instructions, and an update to the MOVES2014 User Interface Reference Manual. State and local agencies use the model to estimate volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and other emissions from cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and most categories of nonroad equipment. For more information, link to the EPA’s MOVES page. (8-28-18)

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Report Examines Market for Used EVs in California

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation has issued a report on the emerging secondary market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in California. The report finds that purchasers of used PEVs, which include both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, tend to have slightly lower income than purchasers of new vehicles but higher than the average car buyer. The report also finds that the vehicles have good resale value, that purchasers of second-hand PEVs were satisfied with the cars, and that having the high-occupancy vehicle privileges that California provides as an incentive was a significant motivator for some buyers. In addition, the report finds that a small percentage of used vehicles are being moved out of state, which could impact the state’s air quality goals. For more information, link to the report (April 2018).

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EPA Proposes Revised Air Pollution Rules for Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a replacement for rules that would control carbon emissions from electric utility generating units. The Affordable Clean Energy Rule would replace the rule known as the Clean Power Plan and create narrower requirements with more modest emissions limits at individual power plants. The EPA proposes guidelines for states to develop plans based on heat rate, or efficiency, and improvements that can be achieved at an individual facility. It would no longer create incentives to switch from coal to natural gas and renewable energy sources. The rule may still allow emissions trading, where power plants that produce fewer emissions than allowed can sell credits to those that emit more. For more information, link to the EPA’s announcement. (8-21-18)

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Quick Guide Issued On Project-Level Air Quality Analyses

Air quality analysts have help locating the necessary traffic data to perform project-level analysis with a new quick reference guide issued under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The quick guide is intended to bridge the gap between the fields of traffic analysis and air quality analysis to ensure that the right traffic inputs are prepared and provided to support the air quality analysis. The guide is organized by air pollutant—carbon monoxide, particulate matter, mobile source air toxics, and greenhouse gases. The guide also provides an overview of traffic data requirements, traffic model advanced methods, reevaluations under NEPA, traffic mitigation measures, and litigation risk management. The quick guide is a supplement to NCHRP Report 765 and was prepared under NCHRP Project 25-25, Task 96. For more information, link to the quick guide. (7-19-18)

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CMAQ Performance Plan Guidebook Issued for MPOs

The Federal Highway Administration has released a guidebook to help metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) develop a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) performance plan. Key components of the performance plan are highlighted and include descriptions of conditions and performance, targets established by MPOs, project descriptions, and an assessment of how the listed projects contribute to the established targets. The guide addresses data sources that MPOs must use to calculate condition performance for traffic congestion and on-road mobile source emissions measures, and the submission of the biennial reports. In addition, a timeline for reporting requirements is provided along with additional resources for related rules and training. For more information, link to the guide. (7-11-18)

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Grants Available for Deployment of Advanced Transportation Technologies

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the availability of $60 million in grants under the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program. Eligible applicants include state and local transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and academic institutions. Funds may be used for the development of deployment sites for large scale installation and operation of technologies such as advanced traveler information systems, electronic pricing and payment systems, and integration of intelligent transportation systems with the Smart Grid. Applications are due June 18. For more information, link to the announcement. (6-5-18)

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EPA Announces Clean Diesel Funding Availability for FY 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting proposals for projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions and exposure, especially from freight fleets operating in areas designated as having poor air quality. The agency expects to award about $40 million in fiscal year 2018 competitive grants under the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. Eligible applicants include regional, state, local, or tribal agencies, or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality. Nonprofit organizations with a connection to transportation or air quality also may apply. Priority will be given to projects that engage and benefit local communities and applicants that demonstrate their ability to promote and continue efforts to reduce emissions. Applications are due June 12, 2018. For more information, link to the announcement and the request for proposals. (4-24-18)

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FHWA Announces Advanced Transportation Technology Development Funds

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the availability of $60 million in grants to fund new transportation technologies. The grants are issued under the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program, which provides funding for the development of model deployment sites for the operation of advanced technologies. The agency is looking for eligible projects that focus on integrated corridor management, real-time traveler information, and traffic data collection and dissemination. The program provided $100 million to 13 states in 2016 and 2017. Applications are due June 18, 2018. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-18-18)

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FTA Selects Projects for Low or No Emissions Grants

The Federal Transit Administration has selected 51 projects for its Low or No Emissions Grant Program for fiscal year 2017. Recipients in states such as Alaska, New Mexico, and Texas will receive a total of $55 million to purchase battery electric buses and energy storage systems. Projects also address the procurement of charging equipment, staff training, and facility maintenance. The Low-No Program provides funding to state and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses in addition to the acquisition, construction, and leasing of supporting facilities. The funding is available until 2020. For more information, link to the announcement and federal register notice. (3-19-18)

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FHWA Announces 2017 Alternative Fuel Corridor Designations

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the second round of designations for Alternative Fuel Corridors. For 2016 and 2017 combined, FHWA has received 58 nominations and designated segments or entire lengths of 71 Interstate corridors (including Hawaii) under the program. So far, 44 states (plus the District of Columbia) have facilities designated as corridor-ready or corridor-pending for one or more alternative fuel types (electric, hydrogen, propane, compressed natural gas, and liquid natural gas). Corridor-ready designees have sufficient fueling facilities on the corridor to warrant highway signage, whereas corridor-pending designees need additional facilities to warrant signage. For more information, link to the Alternative Fuel Corridors website. (3-9-18)

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Minnesota DOT Evaluates Traffic Estimates from Mobile Devices

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has released a report concerning the estimation of traffic volumes from mobile devices. MnDOT and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute used StreetLight Data to analyze the accuracy of average annual daily traffic volume estimates and annual hourly volume estimates using actual volume counts from traffic monitoring sites. The report indicates that lower volume roadways had the highest errors. In addition, results from 12 nonpublic monitoring sites showed higher error compared to the public permanent sites, according to the report. The report recommends enhancements to improve accuracy and granularity of estimated traffic volumes. The I-95 Corridor Coalition is currently conducting similar research. For more information, link to the report. (December 2017)

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FHWA Report Displays Results of Regional Congestion Pricing Workshops

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a report on the findings from a series of Regional Congestion Pricing Workshops held between March 2016 and May 2017. The three workshops were for sharing information on planning and implementing pricing programs in their regions. The workshops addressed congestion pricing concepts and strategies; policy barriers to planning, design, and operations and maintenance; operational and implementation case studies; and outreach and marketing. The report indicates that many newer price-managed lane projects include multiple access points that integrate them with activity centers. Workshops addressed equity concerns and provided strategies for strengthening political support for pricing programs and enhancing stakeholder awareness of the value. For more information, link to the report. (November 2017)

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Tech Brief Discusses In-Car Technology to Reduce Fuel Consumption

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a technology brief on a project to test technology on rolling terrain to optimize fuel consumption, called “eco-drive.” The FHWA tested connected automated vehicles on seven rolling roadway segments in Maryland and Virginia using the eco-drive controller. The brief said that as much as 20 percent of fuel consumption can be saved on certain terrains for a single vehicle without traffic interference. The brief also indicates that eco-drive may not be necessary for relatively even, flat roads. For more information, link to the report. (1-19-18)

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TRB Research Report Addresses Clean Truck Freight Strategies

The Transportation Research Board has released Research Report 862 to assist in potential deployment of fuel-efficient and low-emission truck freight strategies. The report addresses diversity in the trucking industry and several clean truck strategies. The report also provides an overview of alternative fuels and technologies that target fuel efficiency such as technologies for tractor trailers, tires, and idle-reduction. In addition, operational strategies to reduce travel, idling, and inefficient engine operations are provided and clean truck corridor infrastructure is highlighted. Finally, federal and state agency efforts are illustrated to show best practices. For more information, link to the report. (11-29-17)

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TRB Issues Guide on Airport Ground Access Vehicle Emissions Modeling

The Transportation Research Board has issued a guide for determining air emissions from airport-related ground access vehicles. The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Research Report 180, Guidebook for Quantifying Airport Ground Access Vehicle Activity for Emissions Modeling, provides a set of identified best practices for obtaining emission values for various computer models such as the EPA’s MOVES. The guidebook presents a three-tiered approach for making decisions about the data needed for the analysis and for collaborating on data collection. For more information, link to the guide. (11-28-17)

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FHWA Issues Applicability Determination for CMAQ Performance Measures

The Federal Highway Administration has published a list of state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that are required to establish targets and report progress for the performance measures related to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). Forty-two DOTs and 119 MPOs must establish targets for the On-road Source Emissions measure. Thirty-two DOTs and 44 MPOs must establish targets for the Traffic Congestion Measures. The FHWA is phasing in the requirements to implement CMAQ traffic congestion measures starting with areas with more than 1 million people, then expanding in 2022 to areas with over 200,000 residents. For more information, link to the applicability determination. (11-14-17)

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Seminar to Discuss Health Effects of Traffic-Related Pollution

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and Health, will host a seminar on methodologies identified in environmental epidemiologic studies and the health effects of traffic-related pollution. Methodologies to be discussed include geographic information systems, modeling, and personal and remote sensing. The seminar also will review policy impacts and solutions to mitigate traffic-related pollution at the urban scale. The seminar is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2017 in College Station and via webinar. For more information, link to the announcement.

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NCHRP Reports Highlight Travel Forecasting Tool Design and Use

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program has issued two reports regarding the development of the software tool TFGuide, for travel forecasting. TFGuide aids in the selection of methods and techniques based on application needs, resource constraints, available data, and existing model structure. NCHRP Report 852 provides an overview of how to use the tool and a case study to demonstrate how a metropolitan planning organization used the software to perform a transit corridor study. The report also addresses the role of the travel forecaster, transportation planner, and decision maker. The NCHRP also issued a companion document that addresses the current state of practice in travel demand models, the software design and functionality of TFGuide, pilot tests conducted using the tool, and a history of travel forecasting legislation. For more information, link to the web-only document and the research report. (10-20-17)

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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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FDOT Will Use Award for Advanced Congestion Management Technologies in Orlando

The Florida Department of Transportation, along with partners MetroPlan Orlando and the University of Central Florida, will be implementing projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program. FDOT and Orlando will use the nearly $12 million grant to implement and evaluate four intelligent transportation technologies to help reduce congestion and improve safety. GreenWay will use sensors and new traffic signal technology to help the transportation system quickly adapt to real-time traffic conditions. PedSafe will digitally connect vehicles, people, and traffic lights to develop pedestrian and bicycle collision avoidance. SmartCommunity will combine information from many different transportation options into a one-stop shop for trip planning. SunStore will be the FDOT’s integrated central data storage for system management and operations. For more information, link to the announcement. (10-16-17)

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FHWA Awards Grants for Transportation and Congestion Technologies

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded $53.6 million to 10 states under the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program. The projects will address advanced real-time traveler information for drivers; public transit riders and freight shippers; vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to increase safety and support autonomous vehicles; and congestion-relieving traffic management systems. Recipients such as the County of Greenville, S.C. will set up a system of automated taxi-shuttles to improve transportation access for underserved populations. In addition, the Florida DOT plans to advance intelligent transportation technologies and the Texas DOT will deploy connected vehicle technologies in over 1,000 trucks and agency fleet vehicles. For more information, link to the announcement. (10-4-17)

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FHWA Seeks Nominations for Alternative Fuel Corridors Designations

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the 2017 request for nominations for designation of alternative fuel corridors. Alternative fuel corridors provide infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling. States and local officials wishing to provide nominations must submit information concerning the name of the entity presiding over the proposed corridor; the type of fuel to be used; the type, number, and distance between existing alternative fuel facilities; and the estimated/projected cost of the planned facilities. The FHWA also has issued a frequently asked questions document to address the designation process. A webinar on the nomination process is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2017. For more information, link to the announcement.

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Featured Case Study

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

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