ASPIRE is a quarterly magazine published by PCI in cooperation with the associations of the National Concrete Bridge Council. The editorial content focuses on the latest technology and key issues in the Concrete Bridge Industry.
Issue link: http://www.aspiremagazinebyengineers.com/i/306849
by M. Myint Lwin, Federal Highway Administration Pond and vegetation on a swiss green bridge. 44 | ASPIRE , Summer 2009 F H WA F H WA On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans of all ages and from all walks of life, from coast to coast, participated in the first Earth Day celebration—a celebration of the enactment of a very important legislation, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in January 1970. On that day, millions of Americans made it clear that they were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the dissipation of our natural resources. That was the time when rivers caught on fire and cities were covered with dense clouds of smoke. The first Earth Day had brought about major and lasting changes in improving and protecting our environment and our natural resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on December 2, 1970, to provide stewardship and oversight of environmental protection standards and national environmental goals. Congress passed legislation and enacted into law: the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Water Pollution and Control Act Amendments, the Resource Recovery Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, new emission standards, cleaner fuels and engines, and so on. (Please see ASPIRE™ Fall 2008 for more details on the missions and accomplishments of the EPA). On April 22, 2009, people from around the world celebrated Earth Day with a common hope of creating a greener, cleaner, and healthier environment. Partners in Green Highways and Bridges FHWA is one of many partners, including federal and state regulatory and transportation agencies, consultants, contractors, industry groups, academic institutions, and nongovernmental organizations, working on improving the natural, built, social, and environmental conditions, while addressing the functional requirements of the highway infrastructure. The key is to meet the mobility and safety needs of the traveling public, while protecting or enhancing the environment and assuring the livability and sustainability of our communities. In the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of highway facilities, it is suggested to consider at least the following in the promotion of and the development of guidelines for "green highways and bridges": • Improving highway safety for motorists and wildlife by reducing collisions with wildlife • Maintaining wildlife habitat connectivity across highway facilities • Attention to safety, durability, mobility, and economy • Compliance with environmental and preservation laws and regulations • Application of context-sensitive solutions • Sustainable site selection and planning • Utilization of high-performance and environ- mentally friendly materials, and quality work- manship • Safeguarding air, water, soil, and wetland quality • Conservation of materials and resources • Avoidance of negative impacts on the ecosystems Green Highways and Bridges in Europe An interdisciplinary delegation of federal, state, and conservation group representatives visited some European countries including Switzerland, Germany, and France. Although each country uses different approaches to address "green highways and bridges" issues, they have formed an international network to share information. The Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) is an initiative for creating a transport infrastructure that harmonizes with the surrounding landscape. Here are some approaches to "green bridges" in some European countries. Switzerland Switzerland's transportation and environmental programs have a long history of research and actions related to wildlife. Swiss actions are scientifically based, supplemented by hunter information. Swiss scientists have completed geographic information system-based identification of wildlife habitat and corridors nationwide, pinpointing bottlenecks and voids in connectivity. They characterize the wildlife corridors as impacted, impaired, or interrupted, with only one-third categorized as intact. The Swiss use a variety of structural and nonstructural measures. Vegetated overpasses, called "green bridges" or "ecoducts," are a preferred structure for maintaining habitat connectivity. Swiss research demonstrates that the diverse habitats on "green bridges" provide important connectivity for a broad spectrum of species. Many of the "green bridges" are of multiple uses, accommodating forestry roads and wildlife. The structures are monitored using standard approaches, such as animal tracks and photography, and evolving technologies including infrared video. The video makes it possible to record the behavior of the animals while using the structures. The Swiss research indicates that "green bridges" with a width of 164 ft or greater are used by the widest variety of species and the animals exhibit natural behavioral characteristics when using the structures. Germany Landscape planning plays an important role in identifying protected flora and fauna and mitigating impacts to the natural environment. The Germans apply landscape ecology principles to highway Global Efforts on GrEEn Highways and Bridges ASPIRE_Summer09.indb 44 6/5/09 2:07:59 PM