Growing a Culture of Transportation Sustainability in Massachusetts (McCahill, Ebeling and Codd, 2014)

The transportation sector is a growing focus of sustainability efforts, given the large scale of its impacts, and yet it remains one of the more difficult sectors to reform. Private automobiles powered by petroleum-based fuels dominate transportation in the U.S. and the primary mission of most transportation agencies for many decades has been to facilitate safe, unencumbered automobile use. This singular focus is reflected throughout agency culture, making sustainability efforts a challenging undertaking.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is among a growing number of state agencies tackling this issue and its approach offers valuable lessons for others. This paper traces the evolution of MassDOT’s sustainability efforts, beginning with its revised Project Development and Design Guide, published in 2006, and ultimately encapsulated in its ongoing GreenDOT program, launched in 2010. These efforts represent the combined actions of state legislators, agency leaders, and personnel at all levels of MassDOT.
The GreenDOT program provides a useful framework for achieving sustainability goals both within the agency and throughout the state. It enabled greater agency-wide communication and coordination, which has led to substantial improvements in efficiency at MassDOT. Paired with subsequent and ongoing policies and programs, it is also changing how the agency views its role in influencing statewide travel impacts, such as in the range and types of options it provides to travelers throughout Massachusetts.
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