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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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Report Issued on Volpe’s National Transportation Symposium

The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has released a final report on a thought leadership series held from September to December 2017. The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System addressed future challenges and opportunities affecting multimodal transportation systems in safety, infrastructure, innovation, and accountability. The report highlights several topics, including cyber security for connected vehicles, car speed and travel time, and transportation inequities. The report also provides new data on the performance of the nation’s highways. For more information, link to the report. (2-27-18)

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Shared Mobility Best Practices Highlighted in FHWA Paper

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a white paper on integrating shared mobility services into transportation planning. The white paper addresses the impacts of both traditional shared mobility services, such as taxis and transit, and emerging technologies, such as bike sharing and transportation network companies, on travel behavior. The white paper supplements several FHWA publications and provides best practices from 13 metropolitan areas. The white paper highlights several approaches to shared mobility in planning that include leadership from an individual or agency to formulate an approach; focusing on high-level strategic visions for specific efforts; stakeholder engagement; and focusing on research and information from others for mobility planning. The report also identifies opportunities and challenges facing metropolitan areas, emerging strategies, and areas for future research. For more information, link to the white paper. (February 2018)

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Report Shows Economic Benefits of Reduced Vehicle Miles Traveled

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation has released a report on the local economic benefits of efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The report addresses residential benefits of reducing VMT and indicates that home prices are higher in neighborhoods with good pedestrian characteristics. The report also indicates that businesses in locations where streets were closed or where traffic lanes were reduced saw a positive impact on their retail sales. The report recommends a “systems view” of metropolitan transportation that has a hierarchy of networks, from high-throughput metropolitan arteries to local, multi-modal, neighborhood planning with connections between the different levels of the system. For more information, link to the report. (November 2017)

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Road Weather Management Program Report Shows Progress

The Federal Highway Administration has released the 2017 progress report on its program that helps to improve transportation system performance during extreme weather conditions. The report indicates that state departments of transportation have shown increased interest in understanding performance of their systems, but they are still figuring out how to collect and report measures. The report also evaluates the effectiveness of FHWA-supported road weather management tools and technologies, illustrating a high rate of adoption by state DOTs for some of them and limited adoption for others. In addition, the report finds an increase in collaboration and data sharing with DOTs. For more information, link to the report. (October 2017)

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Colorado DOT Study Indicates Road Usage Charge Viewed as Fair

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has announced the completion of a road usage charge (RUC) pilot program. The four-month statewide pilot assessed how a pay-by-mile system compares to the current gas tax. The pilot tested the feasibility of various mileage-reporting choices, including manual reporting and both GPS and non-GPS-enabled mileage-reporting devices. The project found that 88 percent of participants felt their personal information was secure, 81 percent agreed that an RUC is a fair funding method, and 73 percent felt the amount they would have owed was the same or less than expected. CDOT was awarded $500,000 under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to conduct a second pilot in 2018. The full project report provides an overview of RUC methods in other states and a history of the Colorado pilot since 2007. For more information, link to the full report on the pilot. (12-12-17)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights California Coastal Program

California’s North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program is addressed in the Federal Highway Administration’s new issue of its Successes in Stewardship newsletter. The 40-year program was created to promote economic growth and enhance the coastal environment along a 27-mile stretch of Interstate 5 that connects nine coastal cities in Southern California. The newsletter highlights the joint development of the Public Works Plan and the Transportation Resource and Enhancement Program that provides a blueprint for implementing the NCC program. The newsletter also discusses the planned expansion of multimodal projects including 30 miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths, more than 30 overpasses, and four rail under-crossings. The installation of sound walls along the NCC project area and the construction of new bridges to improve coastal environments are also part of the project. For more information, link to the newsletter. (November 2017)

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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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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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