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Environmental Sustainability in Transportation Helps Improve Quality of Life

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A recent edition of TR News on environmental sustainability in transportation features three articles by Volpe experts.

Eco-Logical in Practice

Implementing an Ecosystem-Based Approach, Streamlining Environmental Processes for Transportation Projects

Developing and maintaining transportation infrastructure can have negative effects on ecological resources. While techniques to avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts on a project-by-project basis have been in place historically, they may not always provide the greatest environmental benefits.

Concern for ecosystem protection and an attempt to streamline environmental processes was the impetus for the multi-agency publication Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects. Staff at the agencies that developed and signed the document recommend early collaboration among agencies to establish joint environmental priorities and identify critical resources.

Authored by Volpe’s Julianne Schwarzer, environmental protection specialist, and Haley Peckett, community planner, this article traces the history of the Eco-Logical approach from its origins in the state of Montana to its most recent implementation through the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2).

Read the article.

Noise and Natural Sounds in America’s National Parks

Research suggests that people can benefit from spending time in natural settings. Improved mood and sense of well-being, increased cognitive performance and sleep quality, and reduced stress are some advantages.

Visitors in our national parks encounter noise from vehicles and aircraft. The National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other organizations have been working to protect the sound environment in parks.

This article, authored by Volpe's Christopher Zevitas, senior environmental engineer, and Amanda Rapoza, acoustical engineer, in collaboration with Judith Rochat, highlights research to:

  • Help parks assess and minimize road noise
  • Measure noise from different pavement surfaces
  • Evaluate the impact of aviation noise on a park visitor’s experience
  • Develop a comprehensive program to evaluate the potential health benefits of the natural sounds

Read the article.

Online Tool Invests Highway Projects with Sustainability

The Federal Highway Administration, with the help of Volpe, launched an online tool to incorporate sustainability into transportation projects. INVEST is a collection of sustainability best practices that address the full life cycle of a highway.

The web-based tool allows agencies to evaluate the level of sustainability of programs and projects and learn how to increase sustainability. The tool provides a collaborative virtual workspace, which helps promote communication and participation by sustainability practitioners.

Authored by Volpe’s Benjamin Cotton, a community planner, the article describes the launch, pilot testing, and subsequent functionality of the INVEST tool.

Read the article.

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