Through a combination of carrots and sticks—but mostly carrots—the federal government has encouraged state DOTs to take ambitious steps to lower the environmental impacts of transportation and to invest in more sustainable travel options. Two years into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), notes Adie Tomer at Brookings, it is still hard to know the impacts. Many states are still operating under the status quo. Others, however, including many SSTI partners, are seizing the opportunity to bolster ongoing local sustainability initiatives.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is putting the final touches on the reconstruction of U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder, and their efforts to both accommodate and encourage alternatives to driving alone in the corridor seem to be working. Prior to the completion of construction, a two-year social media-based TDM program launched. The TDM program, managed by 36 Commuting Solutions, is showing success at generating mode shift from single-occupancy vehicles to carpooling and transit.
Researchers at University of Colorado and Colorado State University looked at the suitability of 11 transportation sustainability rating tools for use by the Colorado Department of Transportation based on agency use preferences. They found that the INVEST tool from FHWA was the most suitable at this time. However, the field of TSRTs is fairly new, and no one tool will be best for every department.
Bustang, Colorado DOT’s new interregional express bus service is part of the agency’s continuing effort to manage congestion on the I-25 and I-70 corridors. It is also part of the agency’s response to the growing public demand for transportation options for these congested highways.
During ski season in Colorado, weekend traffic on I-70 between Denver and the mountain destinations is the stuff of legend, with travel times swelling by hours. CDOT, partnering with mountain towns and ski resorts through the I-70 Coalition, has developed a coordinated response to help manage travel demand. The effort suggests that close coordination between DOTs, the private sector, and the traveling public creates stronger, potentially longer-lasting partnerships to manage travel demand in areas where expansion of highway infrastructure is undesirable or not practical.
Last year, after nearly a decade of declining automobile use, several key agencies revised their forecasts of future travel demand. FHWA’s annual Conditions & Performance report to Congress has grossly overestimated future growth in vehicle travel demand since as early as 1999. However, in its 2013 report released last February, FHWA included a low-end scenario in which the annual growth rate was reduced. Then in May the agency released a separate report containing even lower predicted annual growth rates.
Colorado Executive Director of Transportation Don Hunt had a feeling some pretty forward-thinking ideas could come out of the Futurist Forum the agency held earlier this month with senior CDOT management. While some of the topics seemed science-fiction, the effort was grounded by the main issue: how does the industry predict and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, when those challenges (and the tools and technology to address them) are likely dramatically different than the ones of today? While it’s valuable to consider these questions for the decades ahead, the forum also highlighted the need to evaluate and realign some thinking in the shorter-term as well.
As a result of disturbing hit-and-run statistics, Colorado will be the first state to use a notification system similar to Amber Alerts when serious hit-and-run crashes occur. There are an astounding number of hit-and-run crashes that lead to fatalities in the U.S., and the rate is increasing. Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes increased 14 percent between 2009 and 2011.