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Sustainability

Recent Developments

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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FHWA To Release Updated Version of INVEST Tool

The Federal Highway Administration will release a revision to its Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) on Sept. 14th. Version 1.2 of the sustainability self-assessment tool will include significant changes to criteria, scorecards, modules, and scoring. For instance, the system planning module will be split into System Planning for States and System Planning for Regions, and a new Innovation criterion has been added. Other criteria have been expanded or modified. Links to case studies and criterion examples will be provided to demonstrate criteria achievement. For more information, link to the INVEST Version 1.2 Summary of Revisions. (9-2-15)

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FHWA Newsletter Describes New Livability Tools

The September issue of the Federal Highway Administration’s Successes in Stewardship newsletter focuses on livability tools recently launched by the agency. Two online tools can provide useful information about livability activities related to transportation, land use, and community planning. These tools – the PlaceFit Community Characteristics Database and the Community Vision Metrics Web Tool – present resources that identify livability-related indicators, such as natural resources, aesthetics and scenery, and geography and climate. For more information, link to the September 2015 Issue of Successes in Stewardship. (9-2-15)

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White House Announces New Investments to Combat Climate Change in Alaskan Communities

The White House has issued a fact sheet that covers the administration’s commitments to new investments in building climate resilience in Alaskan communities, finding clean energy solutions, and releasing new climate information to help better prepare for future changes. The fact sheet discusses the creation of the Denali Commission to coordinate federal, state and local action on climate resilience in Alaska, and U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to improve rural Alaska water systems. The fact sheet also discusses funding to address improved staff support for rural Alaska communities, principles for the relocation of communities, upgrades to bulk fuel and power generation, and enhanced community monitoring. In addition, the fact sheet discusses enhanced volunteer, public-private partnership, and non-federal actions to document climate impacts, improve energy efficiency, and assist the responses in Alaska. For more information, link to the fact sheet. (9-2-15)

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Army Corps Releases Climate Change and Hydrology Literature Synthesis for New England

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a regional climate change and hydrology literature synthesis for the corps’ New England region. The document presents summaries in non-technical language of current peer-reviewed science on climate as it impacts the hydrology of the New England region, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and the eastern portion of Vermont. The document covers observed climate findings and projected trends with regard to temperature, precipitation, and streamflow and flooding. The document, part of a series of 21 regional climate syntheses, is intended to inform climate change preparedness and resilience planning in the corps’ missions and operations. For more information, link to Recent US Climate Change and Hydrology Literature Applicable to US Army Corps of Engineers Missions. (8-26-15)

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California Coastal Commission Adopts Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance

The California Coastal Commission has adopted the Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance that documents the best available science regarding the coastal risks of climate change in California. The document, intended for both policy-makers and other interested parties, also discusses best principles for addressing sea level rise, including planning and development standards, protection of public areas and sensitive resources, and interagency coordination and public engagement. Additionally, the guidance includes multi-step outlines intended to assist in the incorporation of sea level rise into local coastal programs and coastal development permits. For more information, link to the Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance. (8-12-15)

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FHWA Issues User's Guides for Climate Data, Vulnerability Assessment Tools

The Federal Highway Administration has issued users guides for two of its tools for climate change data processing and vulnerability assessment. The first guide provides instructions for the U.S. DOT CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool. This tool is designed to process readily available downscaled climate data at the local level into relevant statistics for transportation planners.  The User’s Guide provides instructions for each of the three main steps: downloading data, processing data, and interpreting data. The second guide accompanies FHWA’s Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool (VAST) as a user’s guide. The tool was developed to help state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and others implement an indicator-based vulnerability screen. For more information, link to the U.S. DOT CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool User's Guide and the U.S. DOT Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool User's Guide. (8-27-15)

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Group Examines Pavement Life Cycle Assessment to Reduce GHG Emissions

A white paper examining the state-of-knowledge in pavement life cycle assessment has been issued by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at the University of California, Davis. The paper synthesizes research from a number of previous and current projects, with a particular focus on lifecycle GHG emissions and interpretation and analyses that lead to GHG reductions from the on-road transportation sector. For more information, link to the report. (8-25-15)

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Report Describes Implications of Shared Mobility for Sustainable Cities

The implications of shared mobility for sustainable cities are described in a policy brief from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The brief looks at how shared mobility, such as car sharing and bike sharing services, is offering new options for door-to-door travel, “last/first mile” trips to destinations and nearby transit stations, special trips, and reaching underserved areas. Innovations in payment structures, variable routes, flexible schedules, and vehicle size all contribute to the new diversity of transit choices. For more information, link to the report. (8-26-15) 

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Tools for Resiliency Planning Provided by Urban Land Institute

Several tools to help plan for resiliency in the face of extreme weather have been developed by members of the Urban Land Institute. The tools include “Resilience Strategies for Communities at Risk,” which provides a comprehensive overview of how communities can break their efforts down into discrete, actionable steps. Another tool is a six-step process outlined in “A Guide for Assessing Climate Change Risk.” A third tool is “Resilience Strategies along the Rural–Urban Transect.” For more information, link to the summary of the tools. (8-26-15)

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FHWA Issues New Data Showing an Increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the latest issue of the agency’s “Traffic Volume Trends” report. According to the latest figures, drivers in the United States covered an estimated 1.54 trillion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first half of 2015. This exceeds the previous record set in 2007 and is more than double the amount during the same period in 1981. Also, June set the record for the highest VMT for June of any year since recordkeeping began, and the highest for the first half of any year, at 275.13 billion miles. The new data confirm indicators that highway travel is on the increase. For more information, see the press release. (8-21-15)

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Detroit Continues Bicycle-Centered Development

The city of Detroit has become more friendly to bicyclists over the past decade. More than 170 miles of bike lanes have been created since 2006 and numerous trails and city attractions have been centered around bicycle-friendly transit. Projects include the construction of the first set of protected bike lanes with an associated road diet. Also, the urban renewal Detroit RiverWalk project has attracted cyclists, and a 26-mile path known as the Inner Circle Greenway is soon to be planned to connect the Southwest Detroit Greenlink, the Dequindre Cut trail, the Midtown Loop and the Riverwalk. Additionally, an expanded bicycle retail presence has helped the local economy not just through cheaper transportation options and but also through business. For more information, link to the blog post. (8-18-15).

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APTA Recognizes Seven Agencies' Sustainability Efforts

The American Public Transportation Association has awarded seven public transit organizations around the country for sustainability projects that meet criteria from the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. The projects were recognized at 4 levels of certification, with Seattle’s Sound Transit achieving the highest Platinum level. Seattle, which is the second organization in the country to receive that recognition, was honored for its efforts in emissions reduction, unlinked passenger trips and passenger miles traveled. For the full list of recipients, link to the press release. (8-3-15)

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UC Davis Examines Sustainable Transportation Funding

The UC Davis National Center for Sustainable Transportation has released a white paper addressing solutions for sustainable state and federal transportation funding. The report considers various sustainability issues and highlights multiple funding solutions culled from recent proposals that have spread around the transportation sector over recent months. It sets forth innovative approaches to both state and federal taxation to secure funding and ensure environmental sustainability and social justice. Included in these approaches are a one-time use of tax on overseas earnings on corporations, vehicle miles traveled fees and state-set pricing mechanisms for federal highways. For more information, link to A Funding Compromise Can Set Transportation on Path Toward Sustainability. (8-3-15)

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Arizona DOT Releases Report on Implementation of FHWA's INVEST Program

The Arizona Department of Transportation has finalized a report on their implementation of sustainable transportation efforts using the Federal Highway Administration’s Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) Implementation Program. The program is designed to provide insight on strategies and best practices and help to implement planning, assessment and infrastructure implementation frameworks for sustainable state transportation initiatives. Through the program, Arizona has achieved a high level of sustainability integration into transportation decision-making and developed intermodal transportation through pavement preservation, earthwork design, energy-efficient improvements to tunnel lighting, the use of recycled materials and the sustainability evaluation of a wide range of new and existing projects. The report also includes recommendations to the FHWA related to INVEST and an action plan for 2015. For more information, link to The Collaborative Benefits of Using FHWA’s INVEST – Arizona Department of Transportation Sustainability Implementation. (7-22-15)

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Rockefeller Foundation Announces Final Round of 100 Resilient Cities Challenge

The Rockefeller Foundation has opened the third round of its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge to allow states to apply for the remaining 33 spots to join the foundation’s recognized network of resilient cities around the nation. The selected cities in the final 100 will win funding and support to run a comprehensive resilience strategy process and hire a Chief Resilience Officer to oversee its implementation. In addition, the cities will have access to 40 Platform Partners in the private and public sector that provide in-kind resilience-related services. The foundation has announced a total of $164 million in investments available for the 100 selected cities. For more information on the challenge, link to the blog post. (7-21-15)

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FHWA Presents 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards

The Federal Highway Administration has presented the 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards, which recognize innovations in transportation that are efficient and promote environmental preservation. The winners this year span the country and have taken part in a wide array of projects including green infrastructure, climate resilience and habitat and wetland restoration. The award winners were recognized at AASHTO’s Conference on 21st Century Mobility and Passenger Transportation in Salt Lake City in July. For the full list of winners, link here. (4-22-15)

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NADO Profiles SEDA-COG Climate Resilience Improvements in Pennsylvania

The SEDA-Council of Governments, representing almost 300 municipalities within 11 central Pennsylvania counties, has begun climate resilience initiatives across the region in response to extreme weather events that occurred in 2011. Included in these projects is an inventory of locally owned structures that are not included in the National Bridge Inspection program, railroad bridge improvements to decrease the risk of flood damage and railroad track restoration and maintenance. The SEDA-COG metropolitan planning organization and the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority have overseen much of the work being carried out, also including funds from several state and federal agencies including the Federal Highway Administration and Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency. For more information, link to the NADO Regional Approaches to Resilience website. (7-15-15)

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FHWA Implements National Tunnel Inspection Program

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a final rule that implements the nation’s first standardized tunnel inspection program that establishes the National Tunnel Inspection Standards, modeled after the National Bridge Inspection Standards, and requires routine tunnel inspections by state transportation agencies. The program includes certain reporting requirements to the FHWA, a training and a national certification program for inspectors and requirements for the timely correction of any tunnel deficiencies. The administration has also released associated guidance and manuals. For more information, link to the press release. (7-14-15)

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White House Issues Fact Sheet on Actions to Build Resilience in Vulnerable Communities

The White House has announced more than $25 million worth of public and private programs for helping communities bounce back after being hit by more intense flooding, hurricanes and other impacts associated with climate change. The programs, which are targeted toward low-income, tribal and communities of color, include a new AmeriCorps pilot focused on building resilience in low-income areas and funding support from the Rockefeller and Kresge Foundations. The idea for these programs came from talks between administration officials and a task force of state, local and tribal leaders, who have suggested ways the government could better serve their needs. For more information, link to the fact sheet. (7-9-15)

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NOAA Profiles Colorado's Efforts to Rebuild Flood-Resilient Roads

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has profiled Colorado’s efforts to rebuild roads to be resilient to extreme flooding events, following significant flood damage to riverside roadways across Colorado’s Front Range in 2013. Roads are being rebuilt with construction of expanded floodplains between rivers and roadways and increased armoring of the road base, and there has been collaboration between private and public sector entities to maximize the use of the scientific and engineering data. For more information, link to the case study. (6-23-15)

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HUD Announces Finalists for National Disaster Resilience Competition

Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, has announced the 40 communities that will compete in Phase 2 of the National Disaster Resilience Competition to receive portions of almost $1 billion in grant awards for resilience plans. The program distributes funds from the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery appropriation to communities that have recently been struck by an extreme weather event and are implementing new resilience projects. HUD is working in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation to provide technical assistance and promote community engagement. For the list of competing finalists, link to the press release

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EPA Releases Report on Benefits of Global Climate Action

The EPA has released an analysis of the benefits of global climate action on the United States. The peer-reviewed report found that future events, damage and costs can be reduced and long-term benefits can be seen if action is taken to reduce global warming. The analysis planned a future scenario involving global action to bring global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and a future scenario in which no action on climate change was taken, and then measured the impacts on health, infrastructure and ecosystems. For more information on the report, link to the report. (6-22-15)

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Transportation, Climate Change Data Posted by Obama Administration

The White House has added transportation data to the Climate Data Initiative and the Climate Resilience Toolkit to better illustrate the impacts of climate change on the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Over 90 datasets have been added, in addition to case studies, 25 tools and maps and a comprehensive collection of useful federal government reports and websites. The data and tools can be used by professionals in the transportation sector to plan, implement and maintain resilient infrastructure projects on land, in the air and on the water. For more information, link to the DOT Fast Lane blog post. (6-17-15)

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FHWA Case Study Highlights San Francisco's Connected Streets

The Federal Highway Administration has included San Francisco in their livability case study series, highlighting the connected streets the city has implemented in the form of express bus and HOV lanes. The city’s Livable City campaign includes converting a traffic lane in each direction for express bus and high occupancy vehicle usage, turning one-way streets into two-way streets, expanding the bicycle network and transit-priority efforts. For more information on San Francisco’s livability efforts, link to the case study. (6-15-15)

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Report Summarizes FHWA's Climate Change Resilience Pilots Peer Exchanges

A report describing a series of peer exchanges held for the 19 climate change resilience pilots has been posted by the Federal Highway Administration. The report describes the peer exchanges held in Baltimore, Md., in July 2014. A vulnerability assessment group focused on ways to integrate vulnerability results into transportation planning and practice; strategies to develop proxy indicators; engaging partners and stakeholders; and tools and resources. An adaptation group focused on ways to integrate adaptation results into transportation planning and practice; approaches to benefit cost analysis; strategies to establish and apply evaluation criteria; engaging partners; and adaptation at the asset level. For more information, link to FHWA Climate Change Resilience Pilots Peer Exchanges. (6-11-15)

 

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Army Corps of Engineers Releases Regional Climate Change Syntheses

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released new regional climate change and hydrology literature syntheses for Great Lakes Region, Lower Colorado Region, Mid-Atlantic Region, Rio Grande Region, Souris-Red-Rainy Region and Texas Gulf Region. Each of these regional reports summarizes observed and projected climate and hydrological patterns cited in reputable peer-reviewed literature and authoritative national and regional reports, and characterizes climate threats to USACE business lines, (e.g., flood risk management). They also provide context and linkage to other agency resources for climate resilience planning, such as downscaled climate data for subregions and watershed vulnerability assessment tools. For more information, link to the release. (6-3-15)

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ULI Issues Resilience Recommendations for City of Norfolk

The Urban Land Institute recently issued a report regarding the city of Norfolk and the opportunities there for strengthened resilience to climate change, particularly rising sea levels and coastal flooding. The recommendations center around land use, green infrastructure aimed at temporary waterfront usage, economic resilience efforts and transit-centered housing and jobs. The report was put together by a panel of land use and urban planning experts and is part of a series of advisory panels supported by a grant from the Kresge Foundation. For more information, link here.

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NADO Highlights Resilience Efforts Across the US

The National Association of Development Organizations has begun a series of case studies focusing on various resilience efforts around the country. The series begins with a look at the Economic Development Administration’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and the integration of economic resilience into those standards by the South Florida Regional Planning Commission in the face of the weather hazards inherent to that region. The series later will focus on buyouts and relocation, green infrastructure, hazard mitigation planning, energy and transportation infrastructure. For more information and the first case study, link to Regional Approaches to Resilience: A Tour of Resilience Work Around the Country. (6-5-15)

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FHWA Releases Collection of Road Diet Case Studies

The Federal Highway Administration has put together a series of case studies on the use and effectiveness of road diets in various communities across the United States. The collection includes 24 separate case studies that highlight the intention of the specific road diet project and the effectiveness once completed, using hard quantitative data to demonstrate improvements in safety, traffic and driving habits. Several case studies also include measurable demonstrations of the resulting public reception of the project. For the full series of case studies, link here. (6-4-15)

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AARP Provides an Interactive Web-Based Community Livability Index

AARP has provided a tool to look up Livability Index scores for neighborhoods and communities across the country, using criteria addressing housing, accessibility, transportation, clean air and water, health, civic engagement and opportunity, and taking into account demographics. The tool allows the user to compare up to three communities at a time and is accompanied by a video explaining the tool and its uses. To explore the tool, link here. (5-12-15)

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AustRoads Addresses Safety Improvements for Floodways

The Australian transport agency, AustRoads, has released a report concerning drivers crossing floodways that are under water. The report addresses improvements that can be made to existing floodways, such as signage and warning devices, as well as design techniques and mobile and in-vehicle warning system. The report also provides a floodway crash analysis using case studies organized by region, crash severity and specified variables, such as surface, lighting and weather conditions. Link here to access the full report. (5-11-15)

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FHWA Releases Climate Change Scenario Planning Project in New Mexico

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report on the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project that analyzed land use strategy in Albuquerque to address emissions reduction and climate change impacts on the region. The project developed a scenario planning methodology from which a preferred scenario emerged to inform the long-term transportation system efforts of state, local and federal agencies, and also to be used in other states and local communities across the country. For the full report, link to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/climate_change/mitigation/publications_and_tools/scenario/fhwa1510.pdf (5-6-15)

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FHWA Announces Webinar Series: Advancing a Sustainable Highway System

The Federal Highway Administration has announced a new webinar series based on its report, Advancing a Sustainable Highway System: Highlights of FHWA Sustainability Activities. The report illustrates how sustainability has been incorporated into a wide variety of FHWA programs, projects, policies, processes, and partnerships. Each webinar will focus on a particular section of the report and will feature specific FHWA activities that advance sustainability. The first three webinars will focus on Access and Affordability, Linking Planning and Asset Management, and Sustainable Pavements, respectively. This series will serve as a resource to the public, transportation professionals, and those working within FHWA to help them better understand the various sustainability activities and initiatives moving forward within the agency. For more information on the webinar series, click here.

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NOAA and New York Official Address Extreme Precipitation and Culverts

A case study posted on climate.gov website describes research of Laura Sager, Executive Director of the Soil and Water Conservation District in Columbia County, New York, on the success and failure of culverts in the face of increased precipitation rates in heavy weather events across the northeast. The main measurables addressed are the diameter of culverts and the frequency of extreme precipitation events, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has provided a wealth of data through their Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University and weather analyses available through NOAA Atlas 14. Sager aims to project when and where existing culverts need to be updated and new culverts installed to keep roadways dry. For more information, link here. (4-30-15)

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Institute of Medicine Report Focuses on Integration of Health Into Disaster Planning

A report on integration of health considerations into disaster preparation and recovery planning has been issued by the National Academies Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Post-Disaster Recovery of a Community’s Public Health, Medical and Social Services. The report stresses the importance of infrastructure to facilitate healthy habits such as running, biking and walking as well as robust human services offerings. For more information, link to the press release and the report. (4-21-15)

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Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper Tool Capabilities Expanded by NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has expanded its flood informational mapping tool in order to promote resilience. It covers coastal areas along the entire eastern coast and Gulf of Mexico and provides data to assess flooding risk and vulnerabilities. Users are able to choose a location and flood scenario to display, such as FEMA flood designations, low tide or flooding from storm surge. As coastal populations increase, use of this tool is urged to expand awareness of the hazards associated with those regions. For more information, link to the article or the tool. (4-21-15)

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FHWA Hands Out Environmental Excellence Awards

The Federal Highway Administration has named the recipients for the 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards, which recognize innovations in transportation that are efficient and promote environmental preservation. The winners this year span the country and have taken part in a wide array of projects including green infrastructure, climate resilience and habitat and wetland restoration. The award winners will be recognized at AASHTO’s Conference on 21st Century Mobility and Passenger Transportation in Salt Lake City in July. For the full list of winners, link here. (4-22-15)

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AASHTO Video Showcases State DOT Sustainability, Environmental Initiatives

AASHTO has released a video to showcase some of ways state departments of transportation are making communities more livable and transportation systems more sustainable. The video includes the Utah Department of Transportation’s "Walking School Bus" and examples of how state DOTs in Michigan, Tennessee and Missouri are protecting wildlife, plant life and implementing recycling programs that cut construction costs and improve the environment. For more information, link to the video. (4-21-25)

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Iowa DOT Posts Results of Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Pilot

The Iowa Department of Transportation has conducted a pilot program for six bridges in the Cedar River and South Skunk River basins to evaluate their exposure to climate change and extreme weather.  The program included streamflow scenario models that are consistent with the U.S. Geological Survey protocols and were integrated with the bridge and roadway asset infrastructure database for Iowa DOT. The study found varying levels of vulnerability that depended mainly on basin size and included a recommendation to review certain bridge design policies. The pilot is one of 19 climate change vulnerability assessment pilots supported by the Federal Highway Administration. The full report on the program is available here. (4-16-15)

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ARTBA Announces Transportation Project Environmental Excellence Award Winners

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation has announced the 2015 Globe Award winners for exemplary environmental accomplishments on highway, bridge and tunnel projects around the country. Private sector firms and transportation agencies were honored in Arizona for structural repair of both the San Pedro River and Greenway Park Bridges; in New Jersey for major highway work in Passaic County that included various environmental protection techniques; and in Florida for the construction of the Port Miami Tunnel.  For more information on the awards, link here.

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Study Evaluates Integration of Climate Adaptation Efforts in Transportation

A study outlining a five-step framework for climate adaptation planning for transportation systems has been issued by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis. The study, Challenges and Opportunities for Integrating Climate Adaptation Efforts across State, Regional and Local Transportation Agencies, describes the state of the practice as well as policy and research needs that must be addressed in order to advance adaptation planning.  In particular, the study calls for improvements in methods to rate criticality of transportation assets. For more information, link to the white paper, companion Policy Brief and webinar. (4-9-15)

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FHWA Highlights Sustainability Activities

The Federal Highway Administration has provided an overview of the sustainability activities undertaken by the agency as a resource for industry that provides an examination of sustainable highway systems as a whole, highlights existing agency programs and initiatives and looks at upcoming opportunities for continued sustainability efforts. The report focuses on agency actions in safety, freight and goods movement, linking asset management and planning, human environment and civil rights, financial assessment, roadway maintenance and operations, climate change, air quality and environmental streamlining and mitigation. Agency action areas are also discussed, which provide opportunities for growth and high potential for achieving sustainability goals. Link here for the full report. (4-9-15)

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FHWA Releases Reference Document on Sustainable Pavement Systems

The Federal Highway Administration has released guidance for the pavement community on sustainable pavement systems and sustainable best practices. The guidance is culled from existing technical information regarding the entire pavement life cycle, beginning with material extraction through processing, design, construction, use, maintenance/rehabilitation and end-of-life. Environmental considerations are highlighted as well, including the urban heat island effect and the use of recyclable materials. Link here for the full reference document. (4-9-15)

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Informative Climate Maps and Data Section Improved on the NOAA Site

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has developed a new section on its website dedicated to providing accessible maps and data on climate throughout the U.S. The new map feature provides accurate and easily digestible versions of NOAA data products that can be consumed by a broader audience. Site users can also examine specific climate trends by state and focus on specific areas of interest. For more information, link to the press release and website. (4-6-15)

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Coalition Publishes Guide on Measuring Performance of Complete Streets Projects

Smart Growth America has released a guide, by the National Complete Streets Coalition, to help transportation professionals measure the performance Complete Streets projects. The publication is aimed at agencies in the early phases of projects and is meant to assist in the evaluation of the successes of the program as well as a resource for improvement. For more information, link to the announcement and guide. (4-2-15)

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TCRP Report Focuses on Reducing GHG Emissions through Transit and Land Use

The Transportation Research Board has released a Transit Cooperative Research Program report titled “Quantifying Transit’s Impact on GHG Emissions and Energy Use – The Land Use Component,” that addresses the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through interrelationships between transit and land use. An Excel-based calculator tool is included with the report that estimates the land use benefits of existing or planned transit projects. Link here for the full report. (3-30-15)

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Washington State University Researches Anti-Icing Formulations

Washington State University, as a consortium member of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, is researching green alternative anti-icing formulations for snow and ice control on highways that are locally available in the Palouse region. The formulations include those produced from beet sugar refining byproducts, glycerol and other biobased additives to be mixed with a conventional salt brine. The formulations aim to reduce the need for deicing road salts. The lab-based research will use a statistical design of experiments in specific application scenarios. Link here for more information on the project. (4-2-15)

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Benefits of Complete Streets Highlighted in Report from Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America has completed a report exploring 37 case studies of projects utilizing Complete Streets approaches. The project data was collected by community transportation and economic development agencies from locations across the country. Results found it led to improved safety and increased pedestrian and cycling activity; however, the outcome was inconclusive concerning the impacts on automobile traffic. In addition, the report indicated that Complete Streets are affordable, with costs considerably less than conventional transportation projects. For more information, link to the report. (3-26-15)

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Minnesota Case Study on Counting Pedestrians, Bicyclists Posted by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has released a case study addressing the impact of walking and bicycling activity on the management of transportation systems in Minnesota. This case study provides guidance for monitoring non-motorized traffic consistently throughout the state. The goal of the data collection is to inform future planning, policy and budgeting decision-making. For example, MnDOT was able to utilize data for their Towards Zero Deaths approach to reduce injuries and fatalities. For more information, link to the case study. (3-19-15)

 

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President Issues Executive Order to Cut Federal Government's Greenhouse Gas Emissions

President Obama has issued an executive order directing the federal agencies to cut emissions by 40 percent over the next decade and establish sustainability goals. The greenhouse gas reductions would save taxpayers up to $18 billion in energy costs. The administration also plans to increase use of renewable energy sources to 30 percent of agencies’ consumption, and federal suppliers are encouraged to integrate similar energy practices to reach emission reduction targets. The order is part of the president’s commitment to address climate change and sustainability. For more information link to the fact sheet and executive order. (3-19-15)

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AASHTO Study Evaluates How DOTs Communicate Environmental Benefits of Transportation

A report analyzing how state transportation agencies communicate the environmental benefits of transportation and how those communications could be improved has been issued by the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO. The report, Benefits of Transportation: Telling America’s Transportation and Environment Story, gathered information from three sources: state DOTs’ communications and environmental experts; former congressional communications directors; and data gathered through state DOT use of social media – in particular, Twitter. The report recommended expanding messaging regarding environmental benefits and connecting messages with improved quality of life; establishing a national community of practice to share successful practices in environmental messaging; and increased effectiveness in use of social media. For more information, link to the report at and related resources at http://environment.transportation.org/center/products_programs/reports/environ_benefits.aspx. (3-10-15)

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C2ES Releases Study on Electric Vehicle Charging Networks

C2ES Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has released a report, commissioned by the Washington State legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee, which examines opportunities to develop sustainable private sector business models for electric vehicle charging services. The study determined that within five years, the private sector will be able to fund public networks of commercial charging stations. For the full report, link to http://www.c2es.org/publications/business-models-financially-sustainable-ev-charging-networks. (3-6-15)

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FHWA Recaps the Sustainable Pavements Program

An overview of the Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable Pavements Program is provided in the March 2015 issue of FHWA’s Successes in Streamlining Newsletter. The program began in 2010 to increase knowledge and promote use of sustainable pavement design, construction and technology in the life cycle of pavement systems. FHWA has revisited the program to highlight the successful resources implemented as part of the program and provide insight into the future of the program, including upcoming webinars and briefs and new tools that will be made available. For more information, link to http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/newsletters/mar15nl.asp. (3-6-15)

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AASHTO Posts Briefs on Extreme Weather Events, Responses

A series of one-page briefs posted on AASHTO’s Transportation and Climate Change Resource Center website provides information on common types of extreme weather events: coastal flooding; heat waves; heavy rainfall; and drought, dust storms, and wildfires. Each one-pager includes a brief overview of the type of even, as well as regional trends and regional projections. They also give examples of how state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations are effectively responding to these events, along with links to additional resources. For more information, link here. (2-27-14)

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FTA Releases Series of Climate Adaptation Pilot Projects

The Federal Transit Administration has posted a series of reports documenting the results of seven FTA-funded climate adaptation pilot projects.  The pilots, launched in 2011 with $1 million in research funding, document efforts by transit agencies to identify vulnerable assets and develop more robust and resilient systems. The pilots covered seven geographic areas and nine transit agencies: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit; Chicago Transit Authority; Gulf Coast (Houston Metro, Tampa HART, and Island Transit); Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia; and Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, Seattle. For more information, including a summary report and individual pilot project reports, link to the FTA Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. (2-25-15)

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Georgetown Climate Center Releases Resilience Case Studies

The Georgetown Climate Center has released a series of 100 case studies demonstrating how different communities are preparing their transportation systems for threats associated with climate change. The studies were done in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration and center around different innovations local and state governments are using to boost sustainability and reduce risk for residents in the face of events such as rising seas and flooding, extreme heat and large storm events. For more information and the full list of case studies, link to the case study series. The first installment of the case study series also has been posted on FHWA’s climate change website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/climate_change/adaptation/case_studies/series.cfm. (2-18-15)

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Oregon DOT Launches Campaign To Promote Road Usage Charge Program

The Oregon Department of Transportation has launched a public information campaign to raise awareness of and encourage participation in the state’s road usage charge system, which takes effect July 1. The system is not mandatory but instead requires users to sign up voluntarily. The tracking and billing program has been named OReGO. ODOT has developed an informational web page to provide answers about the fee system and a sign-up feature for those interested in participating. For more information, link to http://www.myorego.org/. (2-18-15)

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TRB Releases Report on Transportation Infrastructure and Disaster Recovery

The Transportation Research Board has released the latest edition of its Transportation Research Record, titled, “Critical Infrastructure, Emergency Evacuation, and Logistics of Disaster Recovery 2014.” The report addresses post-disaster methods and operations for traffic and crowd movement, evacuations, logistical planning and damage assessments. The report also includes discussion of the impact of climate change on transportation infrastructure’s disaster management capabilities. For more information, link to http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/172089.aspx. (2-10-15)

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World Road Association Issues Report on Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation Systems

The World Road Association has issued a report that outlines international policies and strategies authorities are utilizing to mitigate and adapt to possible impacts of climate change on roadway systems. The report summarizes the threat of transportation on climate change and vice versa, as well as the ways different countries’ governments are responding to it.  For more information, link to Road Transportation System and Environment Preservation – Review of National Policies. (2-6-15)

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DOT Seeks Input on Draft 30-Year 'Framework for the Future'

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a draft 30-year framework for the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Dubbed “Beyond Traffic 2045,” the report includes a 322-page study and related videos and summary documents. It looks at trends in demographics, freight, changes in transportation technology, and adaptation to climate change impacts. The report, for which DOT is seeking input from the public and transportation stakeholders, looks at potential future scenarios and policy options going forward. The report and related resources may be accessed at http://www.dot.gov/beyondtraffic. (2-3-15)

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FHWA Newsletter Describes New Tool to Help Assess Climate Risks to Transportation Assets

The Federal Highway Administration, along with the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, have developed a new toolbox to help agencies identify and assess the risk of climate change to transportation assets. The toolbox includes a synthesis report, a vulnerability assessment tool, and an adaptation planning tool. The data are specific to federal lands in the southeast region. For more information and a link to the toolbox, link to http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/newsletters/feb15nl.asp. (2-4-15)

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President Issues Executive Order with New Flood Risk Standard

President Obama has issued an executive order directing federal agencies to meet a higher flood elevation standard for federally funded buildings, roads and other infrastructure. The new standard is meant to ensure that communities build back stronger after storms by taking future climate risks into account. It allows federal agencies to choose from one of three approaches: build 2 feet above the 100-year (1 percent-annual-chance) flood elevation, build to the 500-year (0.2 percent-annual-chance) flood elevation, or use data and methods informed by best-available, actionable climate science. For more information and the text of the executive order and standard, link to http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/Press_Releases/January_30_2015. (1-30-15)

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Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework Developed for Study of North Atlantic Region

A coastal storm risk management framework has been developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a report analyzing flood risk facing coastal communities and ecosystems in the North Atlantic region of the U.S.  The Corps released a report detailing a two-year study to address coastal storm and flood risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure in the region affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study provides tools and information, including a nine-step Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework, which can be used to help identify coastal risk and develop strategies for reducing those risks. For more information, link to the announcement and the study web page. (1-28-15)

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EPA Announces Technical Assistance to help 22 Communities Meet Sustainability Goals

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced technical assistance for 22 local jurisdictions in 18 states regarding smart growth, sustainability and economic development, under the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The assistance is provided through the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities competitive program, which provides tools and personalized support to applicants implementing smart growth strategies. EPA is offering five tools this year: bikeshare planning, equitable development, infill development for distressed cities, sustainable strategies for small cities and rural areas, and flood resilience for riverine and coastal communities. Since its beginning in 2011, the program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. For more information, link to http://1.usa.gov/1JW3qK6. (1-27-15)

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FHWA Launches 'Virtual Framework' for Climate Vulnerability Assessment

A suite of tools to help agencies assess the vulnerability of transportation facilities and systems are now available via a “virtual framework” launched by the Federal Highway Administration. The framework — which is divided into six modules — provides tools to help users navigate the steps in conducting a vulnerability assessment for transportation infrastructure. The tools and associated research products were released in conjunction with the findings of FHWA’s Gulf Coast Phase 2 Study. FHWA will hold a series of webinars in February and March to provide additional information on the tools. For more information, including a series of videos and a future recording of the roll-out webinar, link to the Virtual Framework for Vulnerability Assessment and the Gulf Coast Study website. (1-22-15)

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Smart Growth America Releases Innovative DOT Handbook

Smart Growth America has released the third edition of The Innovative DOT handbook. This handbook was developed with input from top transportation professionals and agency staff from around the nation, and documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient. The 2015 edition includes 10 new case studies to reflect the increasing collaboration between state agencies and local partners, “right-sizing” transportation projects, investing in multimodal solutions and streamlining processes. For more information, link to http://goo.gl/vqGPeO or to the report, The Innovative DOT. (1-12-15)

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FHWA Releases International Climate Adaptation Study

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has conducted an international review to study how transportation agencies outside the U.S. are addressing issues related to adapting highway infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. The review elicited information on adaptation issues associated with all aspects of the transportation project delivery process and includes issues such as changing design standards and conducting climate risk assessments. The review includes information from agencies in six countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Korea, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. For more information, link to http://goo.gl/Up4JTP. (1-5-15)

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FHWA Releases Road Weather Management Analysis Compendium

The Federal Highway Administration has made available The Road Weather Management (RWM) Benefit Cost Analysis Compendium to provide information about benefit cost analyses conducted around the country for specific RWM technologies or operational strategies. This collection provides brief summaries of the benefit-cost analyses undertaken by transportation agencies, educational institutions and firms to assess the value of these strategies. There are 17 cases studies presented in the RWM Compendium, and each addresses one or more specific benefit-cost analysis issue or procedure. For more information, link to The Road Weather Management Benefit Cost Analysis Compendium (1-6-15)

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FHWA Issues Gulf Coast 2 Synthesis Report on Vulnerability, Adaptation of Facilities to Climate Impacts

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a final synthesis report that provides a detailed climate impact assessment process developed under the Gulf Coast 2 Study. The report highlights the project and summarizes the methodologies employed, resulting tools and areas for future work. It looks at a series of engineering assessments on specific transportation facilities in Mobile, Ala. The report discusses how these methodologies may be applied by other transportation agencies to conduct similar vulnerability assessments and provides information on resources available to assist other agencies at each stage of a vulnerability assessment. For more information, link to the final report, Assessing Transportation System Vulnerability to Climate Change: Synthesis of Lessons Learned and Methods Applied. (12-30-14)

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FHWA Issues Order on Climate Change, Extreme Weather Resilience

The Federal Highway Administration will consider climate change and extreme weather risks in its planning, operations, policies and programs and will help state transportation agencies and others address risks to the nation's highway infrastructure, the agency said in an administrative order issued on Dec. 22. The order states that it is FHWA's policy "to strive to identify the risks of climate change and extreme weather events to current and planned transportation systems." The order "formalizes FHWA's commitment to this issue," and guides implementation of relevant provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and recent executive orders, the summary said. Under the order, FHWA said it will pursue "proactive management" which involves "developing engineering solutions, operations and maintenance strategies, asset management plans and transportation programs that address risk and promote resilience at both the project and systems levels." The order may be accessed at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/orders/5520.cfm. (12-22-14)

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DOT Announces Gulf Coast Climate Change Assessment Webinar

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a January 22, 2015 webinar, Climate/Weather Risk Management Tools-Learning from the Gulf Coast. The webinar offers tools, resources and lessons learned from climate change vulnerability assessment pilot in Mobile, Alabama, known as Phase 2 of the Gulf Coast Study. State and local transportation stakeholders can use these resources to evaluate their vulnerability to climate change and to understand facility-level adaptation options. For more information, link to the registration page. (12-31-14)

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Energy Agency Finds Vehicle Miles Traveled Unaffected by Gas Prices

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has issued a report on how gasoline prices affect travel demand. The report suggests that a decline in fuel prices does not easily translate into more vehicle miles traveled. The report says that under current economic conditions, it takes a 25 to 50 percent decrease in the price of gasoline to raise automobile vehicle miles traveled by 1 percent. For more information, link to the report. (12-17-14)

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GAO Releases Public Transit Resiliency Report

A report examining how the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation (DOT) provide funding and support to transit agencies to help make their systems resilient to catastrophic events has been released by the Government Accountability Office. This GAO report addresses transit resiliency including how federal agencies can help transit systems protect assets during catastrophic events, actions selected transit agencies can take to make their systems resilient, and challenges transit agencies face with making their systems resilient to such events. For more information, link to the report, Public Transit: Federal and Transit Agencies Taking Steps to Build Transit Systems’ Resilience but Face Challenges. (12-10-14)

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Case Studies Available Regarding Transportation and Healthy Communities

America Walks has announced the publication of new case studies regarding the intersection of public health, transportation and commerce. The case studies profile approaches implemented in Iowa, Massachusetts and Oregon to address the challenge of providing convenient transportation, healthy lifestyles, vibrant main streets, easy access to services and facilitating human interaction. For more information, link to http://americawalks.org/america-walks-releases-case-studies-on-healthy-communities/. (12-8-14)

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White House Recognizes 16 Climate Action Champion Communities

The White House has announced 16 communities as the first cohort of Climate Action Champions. The competition is meant to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted federal support to help those communities further raise their ambitions. From creating climate-smart building codes to installing green infrastructure to setting targets for reducing energy consumption, the 16 local and tribal communities selected have considered their climate vulnerabilities and taken decisive action to cut carbon pollution and build resilience. For more information, link to Climate Action Champions. (12-3-14)

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DOT Releases Case Study Describing Gulf Coast Phase 2 Study

The Department of Transportation has released a case study describing Phase 2 of its comprehensive, multi-phase study of the Central Gulf Coast region to better understand climate change impacts on transportation infrastructure and identify potential adaptation strategies. The project resulted in a detailed assessment of the Mobile, Alabama transportation system's vulnerability as well as approaches for using climate data in transportation vulnerability assessments; methods for evaluating vulnerability and adaptation options; and tools and resources that will assist other transportation agencies in conducting similar work. In addition, the project team has developed several tools and resources to help other agencies capitalize on the methods developed and tested under this project. For more information, link to U.S. DOT Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2 Case Study. (11-26-14)

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FHWA Case Study Describes Southeast Region Climate Change Transportation Tool

The Federal Highway Administration has partnered with two federal land management agencies (the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service) to develop a tool for agencies to manage their transportation assets in the face of climate change. The tool is designed to help regional managers identify park and refuge units that could benefit from a more detailed assessment of transportation systems’ and assets' vulnerability and to get a sense of the total number, value, and types of vulnerable assets. For more information, link to Southeast Region Climate Change Transportation Tool. (11-26-14)

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ODOT Releases Draft 'Transportation Options' Plan

The Oregon Department of Transportation has announced the availability of the draft Oregon Transportation Options Plan for public review and comment. The “options” plan is focused on programs and strategies that facilitate the different travel mode choices in communities. The purpose of the plan is to establish a vision and policy guidance that integrates transportation options in local, regional, and state transportation planning, programming, and investment. For more information, link to the draft plan. (11-25-14)

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America Walks Releases Walkability Case Study Publication

America Walks has announced the release of a new publication of case studies on innovative approaches taken by local leaders to address walkability issues. The case studies showcase four locally elected officials, from towns ranging from a small town of 10,000 to a major city of well over half a million, and their personal campaigns to improve walkability and increase walking in their home towns. For more information, link here. (11-24-14)

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Report Highlights Health Funding for Active Transportation Investments

Advocacy Advance has announced the release of a new report on how transportation and public health have worked together through the recent round of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awards in the area of disease prevention. The report examines funding programs aimed to reduce the prevalence of obesity and to reduce the rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This report is primarily meant for transportation agency staff and bicycling and walking advocates to learn about the different federal health funding opportunities for active transportation. For more information, link to http://www.advocacyadvance.org/media/blog/leveraging-health-funding-for-active-transportation-investments. (11-21-14)

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GAO Study Finds Conditions That Can Support, Hinder Transit-Oriented Development

Factors that support or hinder the Federal Transit Administration’s goal to encourage transit-oriented development are outlined in a report issued by the Government Accountability Office. Based on a series of case studies, GAO found conditions that can support transit-oriented development, include: demand for real estate, available land for development, supportive local residents, and a transit line that efficiently connects to established job and activity centers. Factors that hinder transit-oriented development include: the higher construction cost; lenders’ reluctance to finance in some cities; lengthy or discretionary local-development approval processes; an unsupportive local population; and land around transit stations that is unattractive for development. GAO found that many of the factors or policies that supported or hindered transit-oriented development are generally consistent with FTA’s summary assessment for economic development and land use. For more information, link to the report, Public Transportation: Multiple Factors Influence Extent of Transit-Oriented Development. (11-18-14)

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Obama Administration Launches Climate Resilience Toolkit

In response to recommendations by the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience – a group of leaders from across the country who are working to boost resilience efforts in their communities, the Obama Administration has developed the Climate Resilience Toolkit. The toolkit is a website that provides centralized, authoritative, easy-to-use information, tools, and best practices to help communities prepare for and boost their resilience to the impacts of climate change. For more information, link to the recommendations and toolkit. (11-17-14)

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Smart Growth America Launches Resilience Program

Smart Growth America has announced a new resilience program that provides resources, tools, and guidance for state leaders working to build more resilient places and reduce the risk that natural hazards pose to vulnerable populations and local economies. The program focuses on how to align resilience planning with existing development goals to help states achieve greater return on investments of taxpayer money and strengthen partnerships between state agencies and communities. Materials are based on the experience of peer agencies from across the country, the latest research on programs and activities that states control, and proven approaches for building municipal partnerships. For more information, link here. (11-13-14)

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FHWA Article Describes Tools Developed to Address Climate Change, Extreme Weather Impacts

An article in the Federal Highway Administration’s Public Roads magazine outlines the numerous initiatives and tools developed by the agency to address climate change and extreme weather impacts in transportation. The article describes several initiatives underway, including the U.S. DOT Gulf Coast Study, pilot studies of climate resiliency, and a framework for assessing vulnerability to climate change. It also describes multiple tools the agency has developed to help transportation agencies understand the risks posed by future extreme weather events and climate change, such as the Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool (VAST). For more information, link to the Public Roads article. (11-12-14)

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NACo Announces Resilient Infrastructure Brief

The National Association of Counties has announced the release of a new issue brief, Improving Lifelines: Protecting Critical Infrastructure for Resilient Counties. This issue brief serves as a guide for county leaders to help them understand the vulnerabilities of and threats to critical infrastructure in their county. Case studies highlight the replicable work that large and small, urban and rural counties across the country are undertaking to ensure that lifelines are ready for unforeseen events. For more information, link to the issue brief. (11-12-14)

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Council Releases Natural Resources Climate Resilience Priority Agenda

The Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience has released a priority agenda that identifies four priority strategies to make the nation’s natural resources more resilient to climate change with a comprehensive review of the specific challenges, progress to date and future goals for each area. The agenda also builds upon the robust climate change adaptation work already accomplished by federal agencies and identifies significant actions moving forward. For more information, link to the Agenda. (11-5-14)

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FHWA Promotes Road Diets for Safer Communities

The Federal Highway Administration is advancing a low-cost, proven safety countermeasure called a road diet, which can improve safety, livability, and health for communities across the nation, according to the November issue of FHWA’s Successes in Stewardship newsletter. The most common type of road diet converts an existing four-lane undivided roadway to three lanes—two through lanes and a center two-way left-turn lane. FHWA's soon-to-be-released Road Diet Informational Guide offers insights into this approach, drawing upon research and practice from across the country. For more information, link to http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/newsletters/nov14nl.asp. (11-5-14)

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U.S. DOT Releases 2014 Climate Adaptation Plan

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the releaseof its 2014 Climate Adaption Plan. The plan describes steps DOT will take to move towards fully integrating considerations of climate change adaptation and resiliency into DOT policies, programs, and operations. For more information, link to the report, 2014 DOT Climate Adaptation Plan. (10-31-14)

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FHWA Circular Provides Approaches to Assess Climate Impacts on Coastal Infrastructure

A revised hydraulic engineering circular published by the Federal Highway Administration provides technical guidance and methods for assessing the vulnerability of coastal transportation facilities to extreme events and climate change. The circular, Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 25 – Volume 2, Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events (HEC-25v2), provides methods for assessing the vulnerability of coastal transportation assets to sea level rise, storm surge and wave action.  It provides a methodology for calculating future sea levels based on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers procedures.  It also provides three methods for selecting and analyzing storm surge and wave action based on three levels of effort, complexity, and cost.  For more information, link to HEC-25 v2. (10-30-14)

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White House Releases Federal Agency Climate Plans

On the 5th anniversary of President Obama’s Presidential Sustainability Initiative, the White House has announced the release of Climate Change Adaptation Plans for federal agencies. The federal agencies’ Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans outline each agencies efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, and severe weather and temperature extremes. Agencies are required to update their Sustainability Plans annually under the President’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. For more information, link to the press release. To access the U.S. Department of Transportation Climate Adaptation Plan, link here. (10-31-14)

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EPA Releases Green Infrastructure Report for Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a new report aimed at helping local governments, water utilities, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood groups, and other stakeholders integrate green infrastructure strategies into plans that can transform their communities. This report serves as a guide to develop a plan that can overcome obstacles for neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions. For more information, link to Enhancing Sustainable Communities with Green Infrastructure. (10-28-14)

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Webinar Recording on INVEST Tool Available Now from FHWA

A webinar on FHWA’s web based Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST), is now available for on-demand viewing on the Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable Highways website. To access the webinar, Evaluate, Score, Improve: How FHWA's INVEST tool is helping DOTs build sustainable transportation, link here. For related materials and prior webinars, access the INVEST web page. (10-29-14)

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Connecticut DOT Announces New Complete Streets Policy

Connecticut Department of Transportation has announced that Commissioner James P. Redeker has signed a new “Complete Streets” policy, designed to promote safe access for all users by providing a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options. The new policy was crafted based on state law and input from the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. Personnel from all DOT bureaus were involved in crafting a comprehensive policy to codify the inclusion of all modes and users. For more information, link to the press release. (10-23-14)

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Group Develops Online Tool to Track States' Progress on Climate Adaptation

The Georgetown Climate Center has announced the availability of an online tool for tracking the progress made by states regarding climate change preparations. The State Adaptation Progress Track webpage maps the status of state adaptation efforts. State profile pages include a detailed breakdown of each state's adaptation work and links to local adaptation plans and resources. For more information, link to http://www.georgetownclimate.org/adaptation/state-and-local-plans. (10-9-14)

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TRB Publishes Guide on Tool for Design Treatments to Address Nonrecurrent Congestion

The Transportation Research Board announces the release of a draft user’s guide for an analysis tool for design treatments to address nonrecurrent congestion. The report provides a method for incorporating the economic savings due to delay reduction and economic savings due to reliability improvement for a design treatment during a highway life cycle. The analysis tool is designed to analyze the effects of highway geometric design treatments on nonrecurrent congestion using a reliability framework. For more information, link to the report, Analysis Tool for Design Treatments to Address Nonrecurrent Congestion: Annotated Graphical User’s Guide Version 1.0. (10-9-14)

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FHWA Issues Process to Assess Vulnerability, Adaptation of Facilities to Climate Impacts

A detailed climate impact assessment process that evaluates the vulnerabilities of specific transportation assets and evaluates possible adaptation strategies that could be implemented has been issued by the Federal Highway Administration. The process was developed under the Gulf Coast 2 Study.  It looks at a series of engineering assessments on specific transportation facilities in Mobile, Ala., that evaluated whether those facilities might be vulnerable to projected changes in climate, and what specific adaptation measures could be effective in mitigating those vulnerabilities. For more information, link to the report, Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure, The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2, Task 3.2, Engineering Assessments of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures. (10-9-14)

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FTA Issues Final Rule on Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program

The Federal Transit Administration has issued a final rule that provides procedures governing the implementation of the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program. Under the program, the FTA provides funding for eligible capital and operating costs for public transportation during or following a catastrophic event. The rule includes a description of eligible projects, the criteria to be used to identify projects for funding, and additional details on how the FTA will administer the program. For the text of the final rule, link to the final rule. (10-7-14)

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FHWA Launches Tool to Analyze Life-Cycle Emissions from Transportation Infrastructure

A tool to help transportation agencies estimate greenhouse gas emissions from construction and maintenance of transportation projects is available from the Federal Highway Administration. The Infrastructure Carbon Estimator tool, launched in a webinar Sept. 30, 2014, is a spreadsheet-based tool that allows users to estimate the life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions from construction and maintenance of roadways and parking facilities, bridges, public transportation, and bicycle/pedestrian facilities. FHWA said the tool improves upon previously available methods. For more information, link to the Infrastructure Carbon Estimator. (9-30-14)

 

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Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From A Climate Perspective

A special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has found new evidence of the connection between climate change and some extreme weather events. The journal supplement, Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From A Climate Perspective, reviews 22 studies from 20 different research groups that looked at events in 2013. For some events, though, the impact of climate change wasn’t easy to see, suggesting that natural variability may have played a stronger role. The studies are part of a growing field known as “extreme event attribution.” For more information, link to Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From A Climate Perspective. (9-26-14)

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President Obama Announces New Executive Actions on Climate Resiliency

President Obama has announced a series of executive actions aimed at strengthening resilience to climate change. The actions include providing new international climate data, improving extreme weather outlooks, awarding almost $3.6 billion for public transportation resilience projects in states impacted by Hurricane Sandy, participating in a global green freight action plan, support for a new Climate Action Champions program to recognize local government efforts, and signing an executive order requiring federal agencies to build climate resilience into all international development work. For more information, link to the White House fact sheet. (9-23-14)

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AASHTO TV Video Shows How State DOTs Are Implementing Sustainable Solutions

AASHTO’s Transportation TV highlights the many ways state departments of transportation are using innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut costs and create healthier, more livable and economically viable communities. State DOT officials from Oregon, Arizona and Minnesota explain how their agencies are incorporating sustainability into everything they do. To view the video, link here. (9-15-14)

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HUD Launches $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has launched a competition for $1 billion in national disaster resilience funding. In the first phase of the competition, the Rockefeller Foundation will provide technical assistance and training workshops to help eligible state and local governments consider their disaster recovery needs and vulnerabilities and then apply for HUD funding. Successful applicants from the first phase will be invited to participate in the second phase to design solutions for recovery and resilience. The best proposals from the second phase will receive funds for implementation. HUD expects to make final award announcements in late 2015. For more information, link to the competition fact sheet. (9-17-14)

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FHWA Issues Summer 2014 Highways and Climate Change Newsletter

The Federal Highway Administration has published the summer 2014 edition of its Highways and Climate Change newsletter. The issue describes recent FHWA activities and other relevant updates including the Gulf Coast 2 study, a sketch tool to estimate the lifecycle energy use and GHG emissions associated with the construction and maintenance of transportation facilities, case studies on culvert management techniques, transportation sector findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th assessment report, state and local news, and upcoming events. For more information, link to the newsletter. (9-9-14)

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Georgetown Climate Center Issues Recommendations for Federal Action

The Georgetown Climate Center has released 100 recommendations on ways to improve federal programs to better address climate change. The recommendations are in a report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, that also addresses federal funds sent to the state and regional level for climate change preparedness. The report is intended to provide information to the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. For more information, link to the report. (9-4-14)

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ASLA Issues New Guide to Green Infrastructure

The American Society of Landscape Architects has issued a new online guide that addresses green infrastructure. The guide, discusses large- and small-scale projects including forests and nature reserves, wildlife habitat, constructed wetlands, and green streets. The guide also provides links to information on projects that successfully demonstrate the principles of green infrastructure. The guide is part of a series issued by ASLA covering sustainable design. For more information, link to the guide. (9-3-14)

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FHWA Seeks Nominations for 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the opening of its 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards Program. The biennial EEA Program recognizes outstanding transportation projects, processes, and partners that use FHWA funding sources to go beyond “business as usual” to achieve environmental excellence. The 2015 and subsequent EEA programs will feature a range of categories under the topic areas of Natural Environment, Human Environment, and Organization and Process Innovation, with the goal of recognizing best practices occurring across the nation. Nominations are being accepted through Sept. 30. 2014. For more information, link to the 2015 EEA program page. (8-15-14)

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APTA Presents Sustainability Certification Awards

The American Public Transportation Association has recognized seven organizations for sustainability achievements which have met specific criteria through the voluntary APTA Sustainability Commitment program. Depending on the level of achievement, organizations were presented Gold, Silver, and Bronze level certifications. The organizations receiving Gold Level recognition were Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (Urbana, IL), Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston, MA), Metro Transit (Minneapolis, MN), and the Société de Transport de Montréal (Montreal, Canada).  Lane Transit District (Springfield, OR) received a Silver Level Recognition. The two Bronze Level recipients were GO Transit (Toronto, ON) and Stacy and Witbeck, the first construction firm to receive the award. For more information, link to the announcement. (8-4-14)

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NOAA Updates 2013 List of Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

The National Climatic Data Center has released new information on U.S. 2013 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters and several new tools to assist users in analyzing the data by state and year, from 1980 to 2013. NOAA has added two new disasters to the 2013 total to include an Illinois flooding and severe weather event that occurred April 16-19, 2013, and a Midwest severe weather event that occurred Aug. 6-7, 2013. This brings the total number of 2013 billion-dollar weather and climate events to nine. The estimated cost of damages from these events is $23 billion dollars. For more information, link to the overview. (8-6-14)

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Federal Sustainable Communities Partnership Marks Fifth Year With Lessons Learned

The federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities has issued a report documenting the accomplishments and lessons learned from its first five years. The Partnership, composed of the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, formed in 2009 in response to the recession and to aid communities in recovery. The report discusses how the Partnership has become more flexible, better at leveraging federal and local knowledge, and delivering multiple benefits from single investments. The report also includes case studies. For more information, link to Five Years of Learning From Communities and Coordinating Federal Investments. (8-7-14)

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NCHRP Report Details Information on Regional Planning for Disasters, Emergencies

A report on regional transportation planning for disasters and emergencies has been issued by the Transportation Research Board under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The report, A Guide to Regional Transportation Planning for Disasters, Emergencies, and Significant Events (NCHRP Report 777), details transportation’s key role in effective response and recovery after multijurisdictional disasters and emergencies. The report discusses the importance of communication and partnering with emergency management and other federal, state, and local agencies. The report includes foundational planning principles, strategies, case studies, and tools. For more information, link to http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_777.pdf. (7-29-14)

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New Reports Highlight Adaptation Efforts Underway and Lessons Learned

The Georgetown Climate Center has issued three new reports that are intended to provide information for communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. The first report outlines 20 good ideas that states and communities can implement to reduce the risks of climate change. The second report discusses lessons learned regarding climate adaptation using case studies from state and local jurisdictions. The third report provides information on how the media report on climate change using New Jersey as a case study. For more information, link to the announcement at http://goo.gl/k64xPo. (7-18-14)

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President Obama Announces Actions to Promote Climate Resilience

President Obama has announced a series of actions to respond to the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The actions are intended to help prepare communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter. Actions include new resources to support climate preparedness, new pilots and guidance to help communities rebuild after natural disasters, pilots related to preparedness and coastal resilience, a Green Infrastructure Collaborative to advance green stormwater infrastructure, and a guide on assessing health vulnerability to climate change. For more information, link to the Fact Sheet. (7-16-14)

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TRB Research Record Focuses on Environment, Sustainability

The Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Research Record No. 2403 focuses on environment and sustainability. The report includes eight papers that explore valuation and crediting approaches for planning agencies; habitat conservation plans; short-term effects of pavement surface aging on tire–pavement noise; wayside traffic noise levels; expert systems archeological predictive model; decision methodology for temperature control of pavements; multicriterion sustainability assessment in transportation; and livability ethics. For more information link to the report. (7-1-14)

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FHWA Posts Question/Answer Guidance on Health in Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration has posted a frequently asked questions guidance document related to addressing health in transportation decisions and programs.  The document addresses how health considerations are addressed in transportation planning and decision-making, how transportation affects public health and opportunities for transportation to address health issues, how communities can influence transportation planning, how health is addressed in the environmental review process, tools under development to address health issues, and use of health impact assessment in transportation. For more information, link to the Q&A document on Health in Transportation. (7-1-14)

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FHWA Publishes Guidelines on Safely Reducing Roadway Lighting Levels

The Office of Safety Research and Development at the FHWA has issued implementation guidelines to reduce roadway lighting levels. The report addresses methods to reduce roadway lighting, which will reduce costs, while also maintaining safety benefits. A new set of criteria to reduce lighting levels for specific roadway characteristics and usage is identified in the report. In addition, the report discusses the energy savings generated from reducing roadway light usage. For more information, link to Guidelines for the Implementation of Reduced Lighting on Roadways.(6-25-14).

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Report Details Climate Change's Possible Economic Losses

The U.S. could face hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses by the end of this century from rising seas, higher temperatures and other impacts of a changing climate, according to a report released June 24 by a bipartisan group of political and financial leaders. The Risky Business report for the first time quantifies climate risks to specific regions and sectors of the economy, building on increasingly urgent warnings that have been issued by national and international scientists in recent months. Rising seas and storm surge could threaten between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property by 2050. Extreme heat—especially in the Southwest, Southeast and Upper Midwest—also threatens human health, energy systems and labor productivity. Labor productivity of outdoor workers could be reduced by as much as 3 percent, the report said. Corn, soy, cotton and wheat crops could be hit by the heat. For more information, link to the Risky Business Report. (6-24-14)

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TCI Meeting Attendees Discuss Strategies to Reduce Transportation's Carbon Emissions

The Transportation and Climate Initiative held a meeting, which brought together state energy, environmental, and transportation officials from 12 northeastern states to address several topics. Representatives from Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont discussed ways to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the region. In addition, senior officials representing various agencies discussed analysis that will eventually serve as the basis for discussions on methods to reduce fuel consumption and carbon pollution in the transportation sector. For more information, link to Northeast States Continue Work on Reducing Carbon Pollution from the Transportation Sector (6-17-14)

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Report Analyzes Modeling and Data Collection for Active Transportation

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has developed a report to better understand the current state of active transportation data collection and modeling in California. The report, which is based on a series of interviews with modeling professionals in California, includes recommendations to improve data collection and modeling for active transportation. It also highlights some major sources of data that are used in transportation planning and the strengths and weaknesses of each. The recommendations also could apply to states across the nation. For more information, link to the report. (6-17-14)

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Report Highlights FHWA's Sustainability Initiatives

The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the Federal Highway Administration have released a report to showcase some of the ways in which the agency is “incorporating and embedding sustainability into its programs, projects, policies, processes, and partnerships.” FHWA programs and initiatives addressed in the report are included in the following “action areas”: safety, access and affordability, freight and goods movement, linking asset management and planning, infrastructure resiliency, economic and life cycle cost analyses, sustainable pavements, and road weather management. For more information, link to Advancing a Sustainable Highway System: Highlights of FHWA Sustainability Activities. (6-19-14)

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White House Report Explains Health Impacts of Climate Change

The White House has released a report describing the effects of climate change on Americans’ health. According to the report, climate change will lead to more wildfires, which will increase the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory health problems. The report also discusses how climate change will likely cause more prolonged extreme heat events, which will negatively impact Americans’ cardiovascular and respiratory health, while also increasing rates of cerebrovascular diseases and heat stroke deaths. In addition, the report outlines the potential for climate change to change the way certain communicable diseases are spread and how it will likely lead to increased pollen concentrations. Finally, the report includes a section on climate change’s health impacts on vulnerable populations and recommends actions to improve communities’ health. For more information, link to The Health Impacts of Climate Change on Americans. (6-9-14)

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Framework Developed to Help State DOTs Choose a Transportation Sustainability Rating System

The Mountain-Plains Consortium at North Dakota State University has developed a framework to assist state departments of transportation deciding between transportation sustainability rating systems. An accompanying thesis discusses the framework’s implementation at several state departments of transportation and the varying results it provided. The framework’s developers designed it to account for the preferences of individual state departments of transportation. For more information, link to A Framework for Assessing Transportation Sustainability Rating Systems for Implementation in U.S. State Departments of Transportation. (6-6-14)

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FHWA Newsletter Touts Asset Management Plan's Emphasis on Sustainability and Preservation

FHWA’s June 2014 Successes in Stewardship Newsletter provides information on the asset management framework used by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The framework incorporates long-term asset management and sustainability into transportation investment decisions. To develop the framework, NYSDOT first reviewed other state’s asset management best practices. The review promoted the department to adopt a framework that encourages practitioners to focus on preservation first, consider the entire system over a specific project, maximize return on investment, and make it sustainable. For more information, link to the newsletter. (6-5-14)

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NCHRP Synthesis Studies Transportation Systems' Response to Extreme Weather

A synthesis containing eight case studies on transportation agencies’ responses to extreme weather impacts has been released by the Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The case studies explore extreme weather responses from several perspectives, including transportation operations, maintenance, design, construction, planning, communications, interagency coordination, and data and knowledge management. To collect information for the case studies, the synthesis’ authors conducted literature reviews and interviews with transportation officials. For more information, link to NCHRP Synthesis 454: Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems. (5-30-14)

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EPA Updates Climate Change Indicators Report

The Environmental Protection Agency has updated a report that presents information on climate change indicators in the U.S. The third edition of the report, updated for 2014, provides information on 30 indicators associated with climate change’s causes and effects. In addition, the report explains the significance of the observed trends underpinning climate change in language for a general audience. For more information, link to Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2014: Third Edition. (5-28-14)

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NCHRP Report Seeks to Help State DOTs Plan for an Uncertain Energy Future

The Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Research Program has issued a report exploring how changes in energy supply and demand over the next 30 to 50 years will affect the mandate, role, funding, and operations of state departments of transportation. Several potential strategies and actions that DOTs can utilize to meet the challenges of changing energy supply and demand levels are identified in the report. The report contains information compiled from a several industry and public sources, with the goal of helping practitioners make informed long-range transportation planning decisions. For more information, link to NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation: Volume 5: Preparing State Transportation Agencies for an Uncertain Energy Future. (5-27-14)

 

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NCHRP Report: Making Sustainability An Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies

The Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program has released a report to define the role of state departments of transportation and other transportation agencies as social, economic, and environmental contexts undergo rapid change in the next few decades. The report includes an analytical framework and implementation approaches that will help agencies deliver transportation solutions that can support sustainable societies. For more information, link to NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 4: Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies. (5-26-14)

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TRB Report Examines Sustainability Strategies for Supply-Chain Air Emissions

The Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program has issued a report on sustainability strategies that address supply-chain air emissions. Designed for practitioners in the public and private sectors, the report provides nine recommended sustainability practices that address supply-chain air emissions. In addition, the report includes nine case studies based on greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans initiated domestically and internationally. For more information, link to the report. (5-19-14)

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Electric Vehicles Can Provide Storage, Air Quality Benefits for the Power Grid, Report Says

The Vermont Energy Investment Corp. has issued a report finding that electric vehicles have the potential to provide significant benefits to the operation of the electrical power grid, in addition to their demonstrated value for reducing emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Electric vehicles (EVs) that plug into the grid potentially can be used for the regulation of the electricity load, both in terms of supply and demand. However, much remains to be done to prepare the transmission grid, the charging infrastructure, and vehicle owners before the benefits can be fully realized, according to the report. For more information, link to Electric Vehicles as Grid Resources in ISO-NE and Vermont. (5-9-14)

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Several Design and Construction Associations Pledge to Enhance Infrastructure Resiliency

The chief executive officers of nearly two dozen design and construction industry associations have created the Alliance for a Resilient Tomorrow and signed a joint statement on infrastructure resilience. The statement commits their groups “to significantly improving the resilience of our nation’s buildings, infrastructure, public spaces, and communities.” The statement also defines resilience and outlines steps to research, educate, advocate, respond and plan for infrastructure resiliency. In addition, the statement commits the organizations to establishing new practices meant “to break the cycle of destruction and rebuilding” that occurs after each costly disaster. For more information, link to the statement. (5-13-14)

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TRB Webinar to Explore Improving Data Collection to Help DOTs Implement Climate Change Plans

The Transportation Research Board has announced a June 5, 2014, webinar that will discuss ways state departments of transportation and other stakeholder agencies can enhance data practices to help their development and implementation of climate change adaptation plans. The two-hour webinar will be divided into six parts and will cover climate change impacts on transportation and the Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design Guide, use of climate data for transportation risk and resilience assessment, road weather information system data and the difficulty of incorporating it into the global climate change data, hazard analysis tools for transportation, challenges of data and tools for the Maine Department of Transportation’s plans for climate change, and questions and answers. For more information and to register, link to TRB Webinar: Challenges of Climate Data and Tools for DOTs’ Development and Implementation of Climate Change Plans. (5-9-14)

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National Climate Assessment: Human-Induced Climate Change Growing Stronger

The third National Climate Assessment shows that evidence of human-induced climate change is growing stronger as its impacts are increasingly felt across the country. The extensive assessment looked at current and future climate impacts across eight regions and seven sectors, including water, energy, transportation and agriculture. It was developed over four years by hundreds of climate scientists and technical experts. Among the likely impacts are increased heat waves and heavy precipitation events in the Northeast as well as decreased water availability in the Southeast, Southwest and Great Plains. Rising temperatures could increase the growing season and crop yields in the Midwest, but that region also would experience more droughts, fires and floods as a result, the assessment said. For more information, link to the assessment. (5-6-14)

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FHWA Publishes Assessment of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts

The Federal Highway Administration has an assessment of its climate adaptation and climate mitigation initiatives. FHWA’s climate adaptation efforts originally focused on how transportation networks would be affected by climate change. The next phase of FHWA’s climate change adaptation efforts focused on the development of tools and other information that enabled states to examine vulnerabilities. Current adaption efforts scrutinize strategies to enhance resilience while also integrating climate resilience into FHWA’s current programs and policies. FHWA’s mitigation efforts have generally assisted state and local partners in developing strategies and tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The assessment also describes programs under development at FHWA to further incorporate GHG emissions into highway planning. For more information, link to Assessment of the Body of Knowledge on Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation Measures into Transportation Projects. (3-27-14)

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IPCC Releases Climate Change Mitigation Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III has released a report assessing “the current scientific knowledge on mitigating climate change.” According to the IPCC, the report, a product of four years of scientific cooperation among hundreds of authors, provides a “comprehensive, objective and policy neutral” review of the knowledge related to the mitigating climate change. In addition to the report, IPCC has released a summary for policy makers, which was approved by member governments during the 12th Session of the IPCC Working Group III in April 2014. For more information, link to the report. (4-13-14)

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FHWA Launches Human Environment Weekly Digest

The Federal Highway Administration has launched a weekly email news digest to share the latest information from a range of sources addressing transportation and its relationship to the human environment. The digest includes a summary of the content under key topics and hotlinks for further details. Through this information exchange, FHWA hopes to foster dialogue at all levels and continue to further the state of the practice on these important topics. For more information and to sign up for the digest, link to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/he_digest/.

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Alaska Ferries Receive Green WATERS Program Certification

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has announced that Alaska Marine Highway System ferries have acquired the Passenger Vessel Association’s Green WATERS (We Are Taking Environmental Responsibility/Stewardship) Program certification. The voluntary program’s goal is to reduce waste and provide for a cleaner and more sustainable marine environment. To acquire Green WATERS Program certification, the Alaska ferry system developed a Ship to Shore Environmental Guide, which provides information that allows staff to quickly respond to environmental concerns. For more information, link to Alaska State Ferries Join Green WATERS Program. (4-9-14)

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Report Describes Impacts of Climate Change in Washington State

The University of Washington, Climate Impacts Group, has issued a report describing the state of knowledge concerning the likely effects of climate change in Washington State and surrounding areas of the Pacific Northwest. The report, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Washington State: Technical Summaries for Decision Makers, emphasizes research since 2007 and describes projected impacts on, and vulnerabilities in regard to, climate, water resources, forests, ecosystems, coastal areas, infrastructure, agriculture, and human health. The report also reports on observed changes to date and makes recommendations for further research. For more information, link to the report. (3-31-14)

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IPCC 2014 Report Focuses on Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability

The Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group II contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) was approved and the underlying scientific and technical assessment accepted at a meeting of the working group in Yokohama, Japan. The IPCC said higher global temperatures are already having a “significant” impact on the planet that include diminishing access to freshwater and the acidification of the ocean in many parts of the world, and the increased frequency of extreme weather. Unchecked, the changing climate could lead to major challenges for human populations, especially in poor countries, the IPCC warned. For more information, link to the IPCC Working Group II Contribution to AR5. (3-30-14)

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Report Analyzes Effects of Policy Proposals, Travel Demand on Greenhouse Gases

The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium has issued a report that discusses various policy options for achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the transportation sector. The report, Transportation Futures: Policy Scenarios for Achieving Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets, uses the Argonne National Laboratory’s VISION model to estimate life cycle GHG emissions for vehicle miles travelled to analyze three scenarios: road pricing, transit-oriented development, and increased transit service. The report also provides results from three sensitivity analyses for each scenario that describe the effect on travel demand. For more information, link to the report. (3-26-14)

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FRA Releases Report Offering Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency

The Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research and Development has published a report highlighting best practices and strategies for improving rail energy efficiency. The report incorporates experts’ input and information gleaned from a comprehensive literature review to recommend model corporate sustainability plans, rail equipment upgrade opportunities, and system-wide best practices. In addition, the report documents successful efforts to improve energy efficiency performance measures that also included environmental and economic benefits. For more information, link to Best Practices and Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency. (3-18-14)

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Obama Announces Climate Data Initiative to Empower Resiliency Efforts

The Obama Administration has launched the Climate Data Initiative, which encourages the private sector to utilize openly available federal data to support national climate-change preparedness efforts. Part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced in June 2013, the initiative envisions the private sector leveraging federal data sources to build tools that increase communities’ resiliency. The initiative also asks the private sector to build cross-sector partnerships to maximize the usefulness of resiliency tools. For more information, link to Fact Sheet: The President’s Climate Data Initiative: Empowering America’s Communities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change. (3-19-14)

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Washington State DOT Issues Pilot Study on FHWA's INVEST Tool

Washington State DOT has issued a report documenting its use of the Federal Highway Administration’s Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST). WSDOT tested the tool on three recently completed corridor planning studies and one project which was still in the development phase. WSDOT found that the System Planning module of INVEST, with some modification, would support a stronger sustainability focus in corridor studies. WSDOT plans to include relevant planning recommendations from INVEST in its updated planning guidelines, as well as in the guidelines that will be developed during a study for integrating demand management into agency planning and programming. While WSDOT decided not to use the current form of the Project Development module of INVEST for project development, it found that with modification the tool could help engineers systematically identify and consider more sustainable project practices. For more information, link to the Washington State Department of Transportation INVEST Study. (3-6-14)

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FHWA Extends Deadline for Additional Projects to Use INVEST Sustainability Rating Tool

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a second call to state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and Federal Lands Highway divisions for projects that can utilize the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST 1.0). This second round solicitation is for a variety of projects. Priority funding is being made available for projects applying the INVEST Operations and Maintenance module, since this project type was underrepresented in the first round of funding. Letters of interest are due March 28, 2014. Funding decisions will be announced in spring 2014. For more information, link to the Solicitation for INVEST Implementation Projects and FHWA’s Sustainable Highways Initiative website. (2-20-14)

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Obama and Foxx Detail Four-Year Transportation Reauthorization Proposal

President Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx have laid out the administration’s proposal for a four-year surface transportation reauthorization that provides federal funding for highways, transit and passenger rail. About two-thirds of the $302 billion proposal would be dedicated to highway maintenance and safety programs. Obama said he would increase highway funding by 22 percent annually. The transit account would receive a huge boost, with annual funding increased 70 percent annually to $72 billion over four years. In addition, Obama's proposal would provide $19 billion in dedicated rail funding, about a quarter of which would go to high-speed rail projects. The president's plan would provide $9 billion in funding for competitive grant and loan programs, including $600 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2014 program. For more information, link to FACT SHEET: President Obama Lays Out Vision for 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure. (2-26-14)

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First EPA Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Grant Goes to Duluth, Minn.

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Duluth, Minn. a $250,000 Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The grant will fund green infrastructure projects, such as stormwater management features, that enhance the Lake Superior Basin’s water quality. EPA will award Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants to 15 other cities seeking to improve water quality. For more information, link to Duluth receives U.S. EPA’s first Great Lakes Shorelines Cities Green Infrastructure Grant. (2-20-14)

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Comprehensive Practitioners Guide Offers Adaptation Strategies for Transportation

Strategies to help transportation practitioners adapt to the likely impacts of climate change are provided in a practitioner’s guide issued under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Project 20-83(05). The report, Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events, and the Highway System: Practitioner’s Guide and Research Report, is the second volume of the NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation. The Practitioner’s Guide provides strategies for adapting to climate change impacts through 2050 in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets in the United States (and through 2100 for sea-level rise). The research also produced a software tool that runs in common web browsers (or in a spreadsheet format) and provides specific, region-based information on incorporating climate change adaptation into the planning and design of bridges, culverts, stormwater infrastructure, slopes, walls, and pavements. It also includes two spreadsheets that illustrate examples of the benefit–cost analysis of adaptation strategies. For more information and access to the research products, link to the research report website. (2-14-14)

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GAO Offers Strategies for Reducing Exposure to Climate Change through Increased Resiliency

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released its written testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee describing ways to limit the federal government’s fiscal exposure to extreme weather events while also improving the nation’s resilience. The testimony, presented by GAO official Mark Gaffigan, covers ways to increase resiliency and reduce fiscal exposure to climate change through assessing infrastructure vulnerability, updating property and crop insurance programs, addressing disaster aid funding, and through increased technical assistance for state and local governments. The report stressed that infrastructure practitioners “have not systematically incorporated climate change impacts in planning for roads, bridges, and wastewater management systems” and highlighted earlier recommendations for the federal government to help state and local officials develop actionable infrastructure adaptation plans. For more information, link to the report. (2-12-14)

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FHWA Newsletter Discusses Efforts to Promote Health in Transportation

FHWA’s February 2014 Successes in Stewardship newsletter provides information on promoting health in transportation. The newsletter details FHWA’s involvement with creating the Health in Transportation Working Group, which has produced a brochure offering information on existing programs related to promoting wellness in several focus areas such as air quality, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and noise. In addition, the newsletter covers FHWA’s planning process for healthy communities and its partnerships with other federal agencies to improve health outcomes. For more information, link to the newsletter. (2-10-14)

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FHWA Report Compares U.S. and Swedish Livability Approaches

FHWA has released a report summarizing two webinars that explored U.S. and Swedish approaches to different livability issues. The October 2012 webinars, coordinated by FHWA’s Office of International Programs and the FHWA Livability Team, provided a forum for government and academic participants to discuss varying strategies to overcoming similar livability issues. The report draws on each country’s unique approach to livability to offer lessons and describe best practices for both U.S. and Swedish transportation practitioners. For more information, link to Livability in the U.S. and Sweden Summary Report. (1-3-14)

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ODOT Report Details Energy Efficiency Strategies for Highway Maintenance Facilities

The Ohio Department of Transportation has published a report examining various renewable energy sources and energy efficiency methods for the department’s highway maintenance facilities. Strategies outlined in the report reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer cost advantages. A University of Cincinnati research team devised a three-phase screening tool to scrutinize technologies with the potential to provide renewable energy benefits at highway maintenance facilities. In addition, researchers created a decision support tool to help practitioners navigate the screening tool’s three phases. For more information, link to Evaluation of Renewable Energy Alternatives for Highway Maintenance Facilities. (1-23-14)

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CDC and APA Develop Healthy Community Design Toolkit

The American Planning Association, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, has developed a Healthy Community Design Toolkit. The free resource includes a health community design checklist, a ready-to-use health community design PowerPoint presentation, a guide for creating a neighborhood health profile and a guide for planning health resources. For more information, link to Healthy Community Design Toolkit. (1-16-14)

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State Department Releases 2014 Climate Action Report

The Department of State has issued the United States’ Climate Action Report for 2014. Presented to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the report provides information on the United States’ actions, both at home and abroad, “to mitigate, adapt to, and assist others in addressing climate change.” The report also outlines the United States’ plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions trends through 2020. For more information, link to the report. (1-1-14)

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Case Study Explores Vermont's Attempts to Increase Resiliency after Hurricane Irene

A Georgetown Climate Center case study examines Vermont’s efforts to use federal disaster funding to repair transportation networks devastate by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The case study also examines the challenges Vermont officials faced when attempting to use federal disaster funding to increase the resiliency of their transportation networks. According to the case study, Vermont officials chose to rebuild roads and bridges with enhanced standards, which prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deny reimbursement claims. Appeals were filed and FEMA has so far agreed to reimburse one locality that utilized higher road and bridge standards. For more information, link to the case study. (12-20-13)

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Federal Funding Opportunities for Urban Heat Adaptation Detailed in Compendium

The Georgetown Climate Center has released a compendium compiling information about federal funding opportunities for urban heat adaptation. The center evaluated more than 40 federal programs for their potential to offer urban heat relief in the categories of transportation, energy, environment, community development and public health. The compendium includes information related to eligibility, possible funded activities and average grant awards for several Department of Transportation programs that can be used for urban heat relief, including the Interstate Maintenance Program, Highways for LIFE, National Highway Performance Program, State Planning and Research Grants, Transportation Alternatives and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program, among others. For more information, link to Federal Funding Compendium for Urban Heat Adaptation. (12-20-13)

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FTA Announces Funds to Enhance Resiliency of Transit Agencies Affected By Sandy

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a program to enhance the resiliency of public transit agencies damaged by Hurricane Sandy. FTA will distribute approximately $3 billion to public transportation providers in states declared a federal disaster area after the October 2012 storm. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said, “Our goal is to advance the best regionally coordinated projects, so taxpayers won't have to pay to restore the same transit services a second or third time.” Proposals are due March 28, 2014. For more information, link to The Notice of Funding Availability for Resiliency Projects in Response to Hurricane Sandy or to a related press release. (12-23-13)

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Report Summarizes Workshop Exploring Biofuels' Impact on Human Health

The Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, has published a report summarizing the proceedings of two-day workshop that explored biofuels’ impact on human health. During the January 2013 workshop, presenters offered sessions exploring how production and use of biofuels affects climate change, air, water, land use and society and the consequences of those changes on human health. The workshop also included a discussion of a case study exploring palm oil’s impact on human health in Malaysia. For more information, link to The Nexus of Biofuels, Climate Change, and Human Health: Workshop Summary (2013). (12-15-13)

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FHWA Issues Assessment of Climate Change Adaptation Measures in Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a report highlighting adaptation actions that transportation agencies around the world are pursuing. The report, Assessment of the Body of Knowledge on Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation Measures into Transportation Projects, discusses strategies, examples, and best practices for evaluating the costs and benefits of adaptation. For more information, link to the report. (12-20-13)

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FHWA Posts First in a Series of Climate Change Adaptation Case Studies

Six climate change adaptation case studies have been posted by the Federal Highway Administration. The case studies detail the five projects from the first round of FHWA’s vulnerability assessment pilot program as well as a case study on addressing climate change in NEPA. FHWA said the case studies represent the first in an extensive FHWA series of case studies on climate change adaptation and resilience in the transportation sector. (12-20-13)

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TRB Circular Explores Risk Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks

The Transportation Research Board’s has issued an E-Circular providing a synthesis of leading risk-based adaptation frameworks from the international transportation community. It focuses on common elements of the frameworks, including the underlying motivation for initiating climate change adaptation planning, the foundational risk management standards and principles used to develop the frameworks, the focus and approach of the frameworks, and the barriers and limitations identified by the transportation agencies and organizations. It also includes suggestions for future research priorities. For more information, link to TRB E-Circular 181, Risk-Based Adaptation Frameworks for Climate Change Planning in the Transportation Sector. (12-12-13)

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Federal Agencies Issue Updated Sustainability Plans

The Department of Transportation and three dozen other federal agencies have released updated plans for meeting a series of sustainability goals over the next year. The DOT plan describes the launch of the department’s “DOT Sustains” initiative as a means of demonstrating its commitment to sustainability in both internal operations and its program areas. The department’s sustainability policies include a reduction in petroleum consumption for the department’s vehicle fleet and an increase in alternative fuel use. The plan also notes that, in fiscal year 2012, the department has lowered greenhouse gas emissions over 30 percent from the 2008 baseline for one level of reduction goals and 14 percent for another. DOT also indicated that it plans to increase energy efficiency in its buildings and to procure more green products. For more information, link to the DOT plan and the federal sustainability web page. (12-5-13)

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Obama Memorandum Details New Renewable Energy Guidelines

President Barack Obama has signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to purchase 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The memorandum, part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, triples the amount of power federal agencies are currently required to obtain from renewable sources. The new renewable power requirements, according to the memorandum, will be incrementally phased over a five-year period beginning in federal fiscal year 2015. For more information, link to the Presidential Memorandum and fact sheet. (12-5-13)

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TRB's TR News Focuses on Environmental Sustainability in Transportation

Transportation Research Board’s TR News magazine devoted its September-October 2013 issue to the topic of environmental sustainability in transportation. The issue includes articles related to applying the Eco-logical framework, roadside vegetation and green infrastructure, developing soundscapes, quieter pavements and recycled materials. The magazine also features an introductory article about the intersection between quality of life improvements and environmental sustainability in transportation. For more information, link to TR News, September-October 2013, Number 288. (11-25-13)

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WSDOT Recognizes Three Projects with Environmental Excellence in Design Award

Three projects were recently honored with the 2013 Environmental Excellence in Design Award by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The award recognizes projects for their environmental benefits and outcomes, avoidance and minimization of environmental impacts and ability to build collaborative partnerships. The new U.S. 195 Cheney-Spokane Road interchange won the transportation improvement category. There were two winners in the environmental improvement category: the U.S. 97 wildlife connectivity project north of Goldendale, Wash., and the State Road 20 Skagit River Permanent Restoration project. For more information, link to Environmental Excellence in Design Award. (11-20-13)

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FHWA Launches Web Page on Renewable Energy on Highway Right-of-Way

FHWA’s Office Planning, Environment, and Realty has launched a web page with information for practitioners on alternative uses of highway right-of-way. State departments of transportation increasingly are using highway right-of-way to host renewable energy technologies. The web page discusses the benefits of accommodating renewable energy projects, such as solar arrays, along highway right-of-way and includes links to additional resources. For more information, link to Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way. (11-20-13)

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Federal Agencies Win GreenGov Awards for Climate Workshops, Sea Level Rise Tool

Winners of the fourth annual GreenGov Presidential Awards include two awardees in the Climate Champion category. The General Services Administration won for its series of climate preparedness workshops for federal facilities to review potential climate impacts on government infrastructure. In addition, a team of federal agencies was honored for partnering to create an interactive mapping and calculator tool to help communities understand future sea level rise as they weigh Hurricane Sandy reconstruction. The Sea Level Rise Tool for Sandy Recovery allows state, regional, and local planners to better estimate the risk of sea level rise on facilities and infrastructure. For more information, link to the White House press release. (11-5-13)

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New Executive Order Instructs Federal Government to Prepare For Climate Change's Impacts

The President has signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to prepare the United States for climate change’s impact. The executive order, which comes one year after Hurricane Sandy’s landfall along the northeast seaboard, calls on the federal government to manage efforts to “improve climate preparedness and resilience” with input from state, local, tribal and other relevant stakeholders. In addition, the executive order establishes the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which comprises several federal agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Defense, State, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. For more information, link to the Preparing The United States For The Impacts Of Climate Change Executive Order. (11-1-13)

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EPA Seeking Comment on Watershed and Estuary Adaptation Workbook

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries program has released a public draft of a climate change adaptation planning workbook. EPA, which is seeking comments on the draft, designed the workbook to help environmental professionals and related practitioners develop climate change adaptation plans for coastal and watershed resources they oversee or manage. For more information, link to the workbook or to the Climate Ready Estuaries News and Events webpage. (10-22-13)

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FHWA Posts Material from Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Webinars

Recordings and transcripts of four webinars devoted to climate change and extreme weather vulnerability assessments are now available on FHWA’s website. A May 16, 2013, webinar introduced listeners to the basics of vulnerability assessments, provided information related to the potential of climate change to impact transportation networks, and described FHWA’s Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework. A May 30, 2013, webinar provided information on transportation asset information and climate projections to identify vulnerabilities in transportation infrastructure. The third webinar, held on June 12, 2013, discussed merging assessment results into decision making frameworks. In addition, a June 20, 2013, webinar discussed Hurricane Sandy and its effect on future extreme weather preparations, recovery strategies and planning for long-term resilience. For more information, link to Transportation, Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Webinar Series. (10-29-13)

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EPA Announces Grants For Green Infrastructure in Six Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced $400,000 in funding to help six communities expand use of green infrastructure to reduce water pollution and boost resilience to the impacts of climate change. Grants will go to Providence, R.I.; Detroit, Mich.; Lincoln, Neb.; Gary, Ind.; Pima County, Ariz.; and Spartanburg, S.C. The funding is in support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which directs federal agencies to identify climate-resilient investments such as agency grants and technical assistance for communities across the country. The agency also released a related report, Case Studies Analyzing the Economic Benefits of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure Programs. For more information, link to EPA’s Green Infrastructure page. (10-25-13)

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FDOT Mapping Tool Provides Analysis of Sea Level Rise

The Florida Department of Transportation has released an interactive planning tool that can provide valuable information for conducting statewide and regional assessments of the vulnerability of transportation infrastructure to sea level rise. With the development of higher resolution data sets, the tool also allows for analysis down to the level of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). The tool, developed by the University of Florida, provides analysis of projections of sea level rise at various rates. Inundation layers use the simple “bathtub” method enhanced by including a hydroconnectivity rule. This combined method increased the accuracy of the vulnerability inventory. The map viewer allows users to produce modeled inundation layers and view affected transportation facilities for planning horizons up to the year 2100. For more information, link to Development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) Tool for the Preliminary Assessment of the Effects of Predicted Sea Level and Tidal Change on Transportation Infrastructure. (10-7-13)

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