Transportation’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
On Earth Day, US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood presented a report, Transportation’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, which was mandated by the Energy and Security Independence Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140). The study evaluated four groups of strategies to reduce GHG emissions:
- Introducing low-carbon fuels;
- Increasing vehicle fuel economy;
- Improving transportation system efficiency; and
- Reducing carbon-intensive travel activity.
The study also evaluated two cross-cutting strategies:
- Aligning transportation planning and investments to achieve GHG reduction
- Pricing carbon.
The Executive Summary, Volume 1-Synthesis Report and Volume 2-Technical Report are included in a 605-page document located at http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/32000/32700/32779/DOT_Climate_Change_Report_-_April_2010_-_Volume_1_and_2.pdf .
US DOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations
In Mid-March US DOT issued a policy statement to reflect its support for the development of “fully integrated active transportation networks.” The statement directs agencies “to plan, fund and implement improvements to their walking and bicycling networks, including linkages to transit.” Specific recommendations include:
- Consider walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes
- Ensure transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities, especially children
- Go beyond minimum design standards
- Integrate bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated and limited access bridges
- Collect data on walking and biking trips
- Set mode share targets for walking and bicycling and tracking them over time
- Remove snow from sidewalks and shared-use paths
- Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects
The full statement expands on these recommendations and includes an appendix of key statues and regulations regarding walking and bicycling. The document is located at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html
Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD & EPA Program for Sustainable Communities
US DOT recently released a reference document to assist communities in identifying resources to support their efforts to promote livable and sustainable communities. The guide issued with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an outgrowth of the partnership formed between the agencies in 2009. The guide includes funding and technical resources from the three agencies with a focus on their connection to the principles of the partnership which include: providing more transportation choices; promoting equitable affordable housing; enhancing economic competitiveness; supporting existing communities, coordinating and leveraging federal policies and investment; and valuing communities and neighborhoods. The document is located at: www.epa.gov/dced/.../partnership/2010_04_leveraging_the_partnership.pdf
Senate EPW Continues to Discuss Authorization Topics
SAFETEA-LU program authorizations have been extended through December 31, 2010. Progress towards on a new bill is mired in lack of options and consensus on how to fund an approximate $500 billion multi-year bill. However, since early March, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held several hearings focused on policy and program issues related to authorization of a new program. Recorded Webcasts and panelist testimony can be found on the Committee’s Hearing Web page at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Home
Hearings of note include:
March 3- Importance of Transportation Investments to the National Economy and Jobs
March 11-Federal, State and Local Partnerships to Accelerate Transportation Benefits
March18-Mobility and Congestion in Urban and Rural Areas
March 24-Opportunities to Improve Energy Security and the Environment through Transportation Policy
April 14-Opportunities to Improve Transportation Safety
FY10 Transportation Funding
Just shy of a December 18 deadline, Congress adopted a conference report on a package of six FY10 appropriations bills, including funding for the Department of Transportation. The conference report is approximately a 10 percent increase over FY09 funding levels. Conferees did not include a national infrastructure bank as proposed by President Obama. However, the proposal is still on the table for discussion during the surface transportation authorization negotiations. An amendment was included by Senator TK Warner to use funds for “development, coordination and analysis of data collection procedures and national performance measures.”
The conference report did not contain an extension of SAFETEA-LU. Funds are only appropriated for FY10 highway and transit funds. If action on an extension is not taken, the government does not have authorization to spend those funds beyond December 18. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) will not support an extension until he gets agreement from the White House and Senate that there will be movement on a multi-year surface transportation bill in January.
FY10 funding allocations for DOT include the following:
- $41.1 billion for federal-aid highways and an additional $650 million from the General Fund
- $600 million for competitive grants to support significant transportation projects in a wide variety of modes including highways and bridges, public transportation, passenger and freight railroads, and port infrastructure. This program is similar to the TIGER Grants included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
- $10.7 billion for transit
- $873 million for highway safety, nearly $17 million above FY09.
A summary of the DOT-HUD conference report is available at http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/FY10_THUD_Conference_Summary.pdf .
ITE Pushes for More Transportation Job Creation
ITE joined with ITS America and other transportation stakeholders to urge President Obama to invest in ITS and operational improvements that will “expand green jobs, small business and the smart-tech industry while also saving lives, time and money by preventing traffic accidents, improving emergency response, reducing congestion, fuel consumption and CO2 Emissions, improving transportation system performance and creating more livable sustainable communities.” This effort is in line with other industry leaders pushing for significant transportation investment as part of the Obama administration’s proposal for a $50 billion jobs package. The measure is expected to be formally considered by Congress in January.
A discussion on the topic was held as part of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth. Transportation-related portion of the forum can be seen at http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/forum-jobs-and-economic-growth-creating-jobs-through-rebuilding-america-s-inf.
ARRA and Traffic Signal Timing
On December 7, Lisa Caruso of National Journal.com’s- Transportation Blog posed the question, “What Have We Learned from the Recovery Act?” Various industry leaders responded including, Richard Mudge, Vice President, Delcan Corporation, who provided information from the ITE-related National Traffic Signal Report Card regarding investment in coordinated traffic signals to provide a broad array of benefits. He specifically writes, “Fix the nation’s traffic signals. Coordinated traffic signals provide a broad array of benefits including reduced traffic congestion, reduced emissions, and reduced energy consumption. These investments show benefit-cost ratios of 30 or 40 to 1. ITE (the Institute of Transportation Engineers) has recommended a three year cycle for retiming the nation’s lights and a ten-year cycle to upgrade equipment. This would cost $1.125 billion per year, with 75 percent for direct labor. More could be done if this program were front loaded. Funds would go to state, county and local agencies.” To view the blog and comments from other industry leaders go to http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/.
Emergency Responders Highway Safety Act
HR 4104, The Emergency Responders Highway Safety Act of 2009 was recently introduced in the House by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN). The directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish and carry out a highway emergency responders safety grant program, which includes
- promoting responder safety training through the grant program, with guidance from a multi-disciplinary advisory group
- reporting of roadside injuries and fatalities of emergency responders
- annual reporting to Congress on the progress in improving responder safety.
To view the text of the legislation, search the bill number at thomas.loc.gov