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/306858
by M. Myint Lwin, Federal Highway Administration All photos: Shutterstock. 46 | ASPIRE , Winter 2009 F H WA F H WA The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is committed to preserving and enhancing the environment through research and stewardship. In the previous issue of ASPIRE,™ I reviewed the accomplishments following the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act. In this issue, I explore the opportunities for research, development, deployment, and education for enhancing the natural and built environment. Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users (SAFETEA-LU) SAFETEA-LU contains several provisions on environmental planning, research, and education. FHWA is working with its partners at all levels to share research results and promote environmentally sound practices. The states have learned from experience that incorporating environmentally responsive technologies and practices early in the project development process saves project costs and time. The following research programs can help address issues dealing with meeting the environmental goals of "Green Highways and Bridges." State Planning and Research Program The State Planning and Research (SP&R) Program is intended to solve problems identified by the states. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are encouraged to establish research, development, and training programs that anticipate and address transportation concerns before they become critical problems. High priority is given to applied research on state or regional problems, transfer of technology, and research for setting standards and specifications. The state DOTs have used SP&R funds for substantial research into regional environmental issues. For example, an ongoing research project at the state level is the "Investigation ENHANCING THE ENVIRONMENT—Part 2 of Stormwater Quality Improvements Utilizing Permeable Pavement and/or Porous Friction Courses." The research is sponsored by the Texas DOT using SP&R funds. Research that contributes to "Green Highways and Bridges" will meet the purpose of the SP&R Program. Section 505 of Title 23, USC establishes a set- aside of 2% of the sums apportioned to a state each fiscal year for state planning and research activities. Furthermore, the states must allocate 25% of the set-aside for research, development, and technology transfer activities. In FY 2006, the set-aside amounted to about $600 million, providing about $150 million for the SP&R Program. Surface Transportation- Environmental Cooperative Research Program SAFETEA-LU SEC 5207 establishes the Surface Transportation-Environmental Cooperative Research Program (STEP). STEP is intended to improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation, planning, and the environment. The program is authorized at $16.875 million per year for FY 2006 through FY 2009 and is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Research is being proposed and conducted in the areas of planning, air quality, noise abatement, wetlands, vegetation management, wildlife connectivity, brownfields, and stormwater. Other proposed research would examine tools such as the geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) to better map important ecosystem features, including wildlife corridors and invasive plants; and to improve the ability to recognize and address environmental concerns very early in the process of project planning and development. Research ideas in the areas of "green bridges" for enhancing the environment are welcome from the bridge engineering community. Center for Environmental Excellence SAFETEA-LU SEC 5309 establishes a Center for Environmental Excellence for promoting and supporting strategic national surface transportation programs and activities relating to the work of the state DOTs in environmental areas. The center is funded at $1.25 million per year for FY 2006 through FY 2009. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has been selected on a competitive basis as the Center for Environmental Excellence with the responsibility for program administration The center has been provided $3.1 million in funding over the next three years to provide technical assistance, information sharing of best practices, and training in the use of tools and decision-making processes that can assist states in planning and delivering environmentally sound surface transportation projects. With the SAFETEA-LU funding, AASHTO actively promotes environmental excellence in transportation by providing a wide variety of services aimed at defining the state-of-the-art in environmental protection, restoration, and enhancement while