Climate change, rising fuel prices, ongoing impacts to air and water quality and inadequate transportation funding are some of the challenges addressed in the first volume of a sustainability plan adopted recently by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The plan speaks to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, developing energy efficiency and other sustainability objectives in both ODOT's internal operations and the statewide transportation system.
The plan questions the "how and why" of travel, seeking to encourage use of alternatives to single-occupant vehicles and to provide accessibility to goods and services that do not always depend on mobility–using the Internet to download movies rather than traveling to a movie theater, for example.
Oregon's sustainability plan builds on past agency practices and responds to the mandates of governors and the state legislature. The 2001 legislature adopted the Oregon Sustainability Act that sets sustainability objectives for state agencies. In 2003, Gov. Ted Kulongoski directed agencies to designate a sustainability coordinator and develop a sustainability plan. His 2006 executive order created interagency teams to advance sustainability issues such as greenhouse gases, purchasing, electronic waste and energy.
ODOT already is putting many sustainability ideas into practice. The agency is building new facilities to meet energy and environmental performance standards. It is partnering with the private sector to design and implement electric vehicle charging stations. ODOT and others just completed a 100-kilowatt solar array to power lighting at a major interchange (the first "solar highway" in the United States).