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March 2010
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How Climate will Change Transportation: Part 1

Last week I sat in on a webinar jointly hosted by AASHTO/FHWA/FTA on climate change and transportation; Climate Change 101: An Overview of Climate Change for State DOTS – An overview of climate change science, linkages to energy security, greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction strategies for Surface Transportation and risk-based adaptation to climate change. This presentation was an introduction for DOT staff to the efforts that AASHTO has made with regards to climate change.   The presentation and the recorded webinar can be found here.

The two presenters were PAULA HAMMOND – Secretary of Washington State DOT & Chair of AASHTO Climate Change Steering Committee & CINDY BURBANK – Vice President Climate Change Practice Leader, Parsons Brinckerhoff

If there was one thing I really took away from this presentation to combat climate change in the Transportation is to go with the ‘low hanging fruit,’ the things that are easy to achieve. Here were Cindy’s suggestions for starter initiatives for GHG strategies:

  • Eco-driving programs
  • Carpool/Vanpool Programs: provide them with priority parking in our lots
  • Telework promotion
  • Traffic Signal Synchronization
  • Adaptive Signalization
  • LED traffic lights
  • Lower Carbon Pavements
  • Reduced roadside mowing
  • Partnering with local governments to better coordinate land use/transportation planning
  • Truck stop electrification
  • Roundabouts

Hammond was the first presenter she is the Chair of the Climate Change Steering Committee, which includes 17 state DOTS. The group is diverse and includes members from environmental planning, highway engineering, rail transportation, aviation, public transportation and the Centre for Environmental Excellence. Known as Climate Change Technical Assistance Program, Their Goal:

To Supply AASHTO members with timely information, tools and technical assistance to help them meet the difficult challenges that arise related to climate change

Along with her colleagues in Washington this was the approach Paula and her team used for GHG Mitigation

  • Increasing travel option to reduce vehicle miles traveled per capita
  • Supporting improved vehicle technology
  • Lowering the carbon content of fuel
  • Improving the efficiency of the transportation system
  • Adding capacity to complete critical corridors and support concentrated growth and transit oriented development

Although they are just entering into their climate change mitigation strategy Paula and her team had these Lessons Learned to offer up:

  • Have a plan up front – being proactive instead of reactive
  • Structure your program using defined priorities
  • Don’t recreate the wheel
  • Take some credit – get the word out about good and innovative work

.. tomorrow Part 2…