Is this sustainable?

Seeing trends in climate change action and sustainability goals

Tim Bruns / August 27, 2021 / 3 minute read
Tim Bruns

During the last few weeks and preceding months, I couldn’t help but notice a trend in the news cycle on sustainability and climate goals from various transit and transportation planning agencies.

Just this week, the Metro Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) adopted its first Sustainability Vision Statement, which includes a series of environmentally sustainable initiatives and investments. Most notably, the agency is adopting a 100% zero-emission bus replacement goal by 2030 and the development of an agency-wide Climate Action Plan. The Authority says the initial zero-emission routes will serve communities designated in the city of Houston’s Complete Communities program and those disproportionately impacted by carbon emissions.

Last week, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco released its annual sustainability report, which shows progress the agency has made toward its sustainability goals. BART says its biggest push to advance its goals in sustainability was the opening of two new transit stations that are energy-efficient by design. The agency said its use of tire-derived aggregate underneath the trackway saved the equivalent of 300,800 tires from being sent to waste.

Lastly, the Colorado Transportation Commission this week proposed new transportation pollution reduction planning standards aimed at reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. The Colorado DOT says this standard will ensure the infrastructure built supports cleaner air and helps fight climate change. The plan would require CDOT to determine the total pollution and greenhouse gas emission increase or decrease expected from future transportation projects and take steps to ensure that greenhouse gas emission levels do not exceed set reduction amounts.

Of course, all this comes on the heels of the Senate’s passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that includes $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in addition to $39 billion to modernize and expand our transit systems.

This month, our Traffic & Transit features tackle smart work zones, light-rail transit, and complete streets.

In “An à la carte menu for work zone safety”, author Brady Markell looks at how smart work zone systems are gaining in popularity and use and increasing safety within work zones. Smart work zones can include queue warning, zipper merge, travel time, trucks entering highway notification, variable speed limit systems, radar speed trailers, smart arrow boards, vehicle data collection sensors, CCTVs, Bluetooth detection, presence lighting, and more.

After 15 years of planning, design, and construction, Sound Transit’s Northgate Link extension will open on Oct 2, 2021. The 4.3-mile extension connects to Sound Transit’s existing 20-mile light-rail system, extending it northward from the current terminus at the University of Washington Stadium. The first 3.5 miles of the extension are underground, and the final 0.8 miles, ending at Northgate station, are elevated. One of the project’s major accomplishments are the twin tunnels for the underground portion of the extension. Tunneling began in 2014 and finished in 2016. Read more in the feature “Expanding light-rail transit in Seattle”

Finally, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) worked together with the city of Boulder City on the Complete Street Project for Boulder City Parkway, the main street into Boulder City. The 1.4-mile project came with a price tag of $18.2 million, which included design, construction, and construction administration. The project would add landscaped medians, new detached, wider sidewalks, curb and gutter, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, and more to a stretch of the Parkway between Veterans Memorial Drive and Buchanan Boulevard. Read more in the feature “Bringing complete streets to Boulder City”

Stay tuned for more coverage next month. We hope you enjoy reading the August features! Thanks for reading!

About the Author

Bruns is associate managing editor of Traffic & Transit.

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