The adoption of electric vehicles is growing in the United States, with all-electric vehicle sales increasing by 85% from 2020 to 2021 and plug-in hybrid sales rising 138%. This is a welcome trend for many, but the increased popularity of EVs combined with better fuel efficiency, and a gas tax that hasn’t been raised in thirty years, is posing a major challenge to policy makers; how to make up for lost gas tax revenue, which currently pays for 29% of state highway funds and 84% at the federal level.
States can target key transportation issues with federal infrastructure funds
The much-anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was finally signed by President Biden on Monday, and state DOTs are preparing for what will amount to around 50 percent more transportation spending than originally planned for over the next five years. The act includes an additional $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for safety, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for freight and passenger rail (a five-fold increase).
Add Virginia to the list of states testing out “plastic roads”
Engineers at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are studying a new type of asphalt mixture, called recycled plastic modified asphalt mixture (RPM), that could replace traditional asphalt mix. While limited research on the technology says it is a win-win for both improving longevity of roads and redirecting plastic waste from landfills, VDOT wants to confirm that the new mixture does not result in microplastic entering the environment through water runoff.
Creating a transportation decision-making process that is equitable for everyone
The focus of a new publication from the Greenlining Institute is to “offer planners and community advocates a step-by-step guide to a more community-centered transportation planning process that focuses on the mobility needs of communities and puts affected communities at the center of decision-making.” While the work is specific to California, the framework holds value for communities across the country.
Pedestrians First: Tools for a Walkable City (ITDP, 2018)
The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy recently released Pedestrians First: Tools for a Walkable City. The toolkit, aimed at governments, city planners, NGOs, and developers, notes that “Walkability is the foundation of any type of transportation; all trips require walking at some point.” The toolkit notes factors that influence walkability throughout the city and three scales: citywide, neighborhood, and street level.
U.S. scores poorly in relationship between transportation sustainability and human capital
A paper published by University of Connecticut Engineering and Geography faculty, titled Relationship between quality of life and transportation sustainability in the United States and selected European countries, offers a look at whether the burdens of transportation systems are resulting in gains for the nation as a whole. And the U.S. does not stack up well in the report.
Materials from the June 2016 Sustainability Directors meeting
The agenda and meeting materials from the June 14-15, 2016 meeting of state Sustainability Directors can be found here.
Sustainability rating tools studied for use in Colorado
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.
Growing a Culture of Transportation Sustainability in Massachusetts (McCahill, Ebeling and Codd, 2014)
MassDOT is among a growing number of state agencies tackling sustainability efforts in the transportaiton section and its approach offers valuable lessons for others. 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.
Urban truck traffic growing far faster than urban population growth
Urban truck traffic has boomed alongside the rise in e-commerce. As shown in a recent Brookings Institution blog post, while both urban truck and passenger VMT have been growing faster than urban populations since the 1960s, urban truck traffic diverged from urban car travel in the early 1990s and exploded between 2006 and 2008 before a slight dip during the recession. Thanks to this growth, total single unit (box) truck VMT became majority urban in the early 2000s, and combination (tractor-trailer) truck VMT is likely to become majority urban in the coming years.