Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters has named seven state transportation department initiatives as models for providing extraordinary environmental benefits to the communities in which they were built.
"President Bush understands that moving the American economy and protecting our environment can go hand in hand," Peters said. "Were committed to making environmental protection integral to improvements were making in our nations highway system."
Peters praised state departments of transportation in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, New York and Virginia for developing projects she deemed "exemplary ecosystem initiatives." The individual projects encourage protection of endangered or threatened species and include black bear preservation and replacing man-made flood control measures with backwater lakes, marshes and floodplain forests.
Since 2002, the FHWA each year recognizes a small group of highway projects that meet new environmental protection and conservation objectives. Peters hopes these model projects will encourage state transportation departments to include environmental enhancement measures in highway and bridge projects.
The projects include Alabamas program to protect the federally threatened gopher tortoise; Floridas first-of-its-kind program to protect wildlife and wetland habitats; Georgias program protecting a diverse range of plant and wildlife species along the Flint River; and Illinois program to return a wetland bank in LaGrange back to its natural state. Other projects include a program in Mississippi to save hardwood trees; a program in New York to protect and enhance native plant life in the Adirondack Park; and a program in Virginia that provides wildlife areas for more than 200 species of birds and countless varieties of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.