Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new voluntary guidance on automated driving systems—”Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety.” This guidance is based on public comments received on the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (FAVP) released a year ago, September 2016. The updated guidance is “to support industry innovators, States, and other key stakeholders as they consider and design best practices relative to the testing and deployment of automated vehicle technologies while informing and educating the public and improving roadway safety.” NHTSA is looking for public comments on the guidance and “additional ways to improve its usefulness.”  The document is part of DOT’s efforts to support the introduction of automation technologies that “hold the promise of fulfilling NHTSA’s mission of reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on our roads.”  Comments are due by November 14.
*  In Oregon, an interim joint House-Senate committee on energy and environment meets today for two hearings focused on transportation electrification.  One hearing is titled  “Public Utility Commission’s Resource Value of Solar and Transportation Electrification Dockets.”  Staff from OR’s Public Utility Commission will update legislators.  The second hearing topic is titled “Electrification Transportation Programs and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.”  Testimony will be from utility experts and officials from vehicle trade groups.
*  Who knew, right, that we have a National Advisory Committee on Windstorm Impact Reduction (NACWIR or the Committee)?  Well, we do and the Committee holds an open video conference meeting next week, on Monday, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The purpose of the meeting: to finalize the Committee’s report on wind reduction assessments and recommendations. You can participate remotely. The NACWIR was established in accordance with the requirements of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015. The Committee is charged with offering assessments and recommendations on trends and developments in the natural, engineering, and social sciences and practices of windstorm impact mitigation, program priorities and coordination and, importantly, the effectiveness of the Program in meeting its purposes.
Tom Ewing
reply” or 
513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Future: This will happen, one way or another: Quantum information science (QIS) seeks to advance research in the control of atoms and molecules and development of ultra-fast lasers capable of manipulating states of matter.  To advance that research the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold a workshop in October, a follow up to a current request for comments by the Department of Commerce regarding “the broader needs of the industrial community.”  The workshop will support the QIS Interagency Working Group, established in 2014, which includes participants from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Science Foundation.  NIST seeks comments on R&D opportunities, support for emerging market areas, identifying barriers to near-term and future applications, and understanding workforce needs.
*  The Future: This could happen: The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) released the Tier II Draft EIS for the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High-Speed Rail (DC2RVA) Project.  It’s worth a close look, for many reasons.  One, it’s an important transportation proposal within a very congested highway corridor.  This is a high-speed rail by US standards, not Europe or Japan, which is good because it becomes much more doable where reality (think money) is concerned.  These could be 90 mph trains, plenty of speed for a 123-mile trip. Second, this EIS Summary is a particularly well-done document: clear and straightforward, an excellent compilation of text, charts, and graphics.  Hats off to the team which prepared this summary.  A reader not only can stay awake while reading but she or he comes away with a strong understanding of the project and related benefits and costs.
*  The Future: This won’t happen: Federal Highway, in August, rescinded the Record of Decision (ROD) for a highway project in metropolitan Tacoma (Pierce County), Washington.  This would have been a new arterial highway between SR 7 and I-5, running east to west, south of McChord AFB.  The ROD was published in August 2004 – 13 years ago!  The project has been stalled since 2007 because of public policy, litigation, and transportation demand reasons. Shelf-life: too long.  Now, the ROD is “no longer a valid document without further environmental analysis and review.”  That DC to Richmond project should hold many lessons, for people in many places.
 
Tom Ewing
reply” or 
513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The President’s most recent Executive Order was in the Federal Register last week: “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.”  This is an important directive, for a number of reasons and it deserves a close look, again, for a number of reasons.  First, the EO covers a wide range of projects, public and private: the “physical assets designed to provide or support services to the general public” including “roadways, bridges, railroads, and transit; aviation; ports, including navigational channels; water resources projects; energy production and generation, including from fossil, renewable, nuclear, and hydro sources; electricity transmission; broadband Internet; pipelines; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; drinking water infrastructure.”  Second, and importantly, it links to the FPISC, that’s the “Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council” created by the last federal transportation bill, the FAST Act, in 2015.  The new EO sets hammer dates and accountability.  In 30 days, for example, the Council on Environmental Quality is required to develop “an initial list of actions it will take to enhance and modernize the Federal environmental review and authorization process.”  This EO was signed August 15.  That means CEQ’s report is due around September 15.  That’s warp speed for those pipe-smoking brandy-sniffing philosophers.  Stay tuned.
*  The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) extended the public comment period for its proposals, initially made last December, regarding changes affecting the use of ACE “Reservoir Projects for Domestic, Municipal & Industrial Water Supply.”  If you drink water, or you know anyone who drinks water or otherwise needs, uses, requires, fishes from, swims in or floats upon water, this is a critical set of policy proposals, addressing and pulling into the spotlight federal water policy issues going back, oh, only about 85 years.  Reservoirs have multiple roles – potable water, irrigation, navigation, transportation, energy, industrial uses, recreation, flood control, fish and wildlife conservation.  As noted, the proposed revisions pull in some ancient stuff. Not surprisingly, the Corps’ text frequently mentions the Secretary of the Interior.  Frequently, though, like it was yesterday, the reference is to Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes, part of President Roosevelt’s cabinet from 1933 to 1946.  My how time flies…

CHICAGO, UNITED STATES – JULY 01: Politico Harold Ickes listening to news of defeat of Vice President Wallace to win renomination at Democratic National Convention. Harry Truman won on the second ballot. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures

*  Well, it’s not an easy document to get but the Navigation Risk Assessment (NRA) is available for the Hudson River “Champlain Hudson Power Express” project – the proposal to bury a 1000 megawatt transmission cable, lengthwise, under the Hudson River to carry electric power, starting from somewhere in Canada to New York City.  The cable, of course, could present issues for marine transportation on the Hudson because the cable will be covered by cement “blankets” in certain impermeable portions of the riverbed.  The report, paid for by the project sponsors, concludes that “the likelihood of interaction between vessels and the cable is minimal in almost all sections of the Considered Route” (not sure why that’s in caps…). The NRA also includes an “anchor snag manual” advising mariners what to do if their anchor, as it drags along the bottom of the River, say, in a storm or dense fog, accidentally snags the cable.  Whaddyathink – more to come on this?

Tom Ewing
“reply” or
513-379-5526 voice/text

Interesting Events

By Greg Sitek

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to participate, live and digitally, in several events that have or will have an impact on our world. They involved asphalt, tires and mobility and the introduction of a new piece of equipment.

Mobility is at the heart of all our activities. It’s a basic human need, both social and economic, as well as
a powerful environmental constraint. The challenge that we must now meet is: provide good solutions for society and the planet and make them a level of responsible corporate development. Critical components of mobility are the construction industries – roads & bridges, rail, waterways, ports & terminals, buildings — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional – infrastructure. Without the construction industries paving the way society would become stagnant.

The bottom line is that “mobility” is an essential component in today’s world but mobility has to be done responsibly. In this issue is an article on Movin’On.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently presented field test results for its LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader to a group in California. Included were Volvo’s customer Waste Management, which carried out the field tests, CALSTART, which conducted emission tests on the machine, and the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the LX1 project. Since the end of last year, the LX1 has performed hundreds of hours of real work in two applications at Waste Management facilities in California.

The LX1 prototype cuts fuel consumption radically while delivering quiet reliable performance that leaves a small carbon footprint. A full-size diesel-electric loader?

Yes. You can see and listen to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BMPS3kWoAg8 and there is an article on it in this issue.

And then there was a webinar on a perpetual design software update.

The Asphalt Pavement Alliance introduced Version 4.3 of PerRoad Perpetual Pavement design software. Developed at Auburn University, PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy to estimate stresses and strains that would prove detrimental for fatigue cracking or structural rutting.

PerRoad Version 4.3 incorporates recent research conducted on the Pavement Test Track at the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University and then validated with live traffic on Perpetual Pavement sections. The new features allow PerRoad to perform a conventional mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design to directly compare against Perpetual Pavement designs. It can also use strain distribution or a single endurance limit strain value to design a Perpetual Pavement.

“Perpetual Pavement designs allow us to limit distresses to the easily repaired surface,” stated David Timm, Ph.D., P.E., developer of PerRoad. “By coupling layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure, PerRoad helps a designer understand the layer thicknesses and other values that will ensure a long-life asphalt pavement.”

PerRoad, which is available for free from www.AsphaltRoads.org/PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. Version 4.3 provides design results as percentile responses and as conventional designs with transfer functions.

Perpetual roads are…

Ten departments of transportation were named winners of the 2016 Perpetual Pavement Award by Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA). The award celebrates long-life asphalt pavements that reflect the characteristics of a Perpetual Pavement design. The award is presented to state transportation departments and local agency road owners for well-performing asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old with a proven high-quality structural design.

To earn the award, the pavement must not have suffered a structural failure, and it should have an average interval between resurfacing of no less than 13 years. The road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to taxpayers. Engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University, evaluated the nominations and validated the results for this year’s Perpetual Pavement Award winners.

Since the Perpetual Pavement Award was first presented in 2001, 118 pavements in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have been honored with the award.

The states winning the 2016 award were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. For details visit: http://www.asphaltroads.org/news/post/asphalt-pavement-alliance-announces-winners-2016-perpetual-pavement-awards/

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  If your friends tell you you’re full of wind, well, take it as a compliment and then tell them (assuming you have more than one friend *:D big grin) everything you’ve learned from reading DOE’s extensive and very user-friendly “2016 Wind Market Reports.”  Wow – great resource.  The reports update the continued growth in wind energy nationwide. The wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts of capacity last year, representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016. The reports cover the following market sectors:  land-based utility scaleoffshore, and  distributed wind.  Definitely worth a close read!
*  Well, it’s not quite at the out-sized status achieved by the Coast Guard’s 2016 proposal to establish safety/anchorage zones on the Hudson River.  You may recall that proposal generated over 10,000 comments from interested citizens, or at least citizens who knew how to flood the docket with form letters.  But the CG’s proposal for safety zones in the Puget Sound has turned into a similar hot button issue, indicating again how usually very low-key, ho-hum proposals can get morphed into flashpoints that, for some, indicate, well, just about the end of the world.  In its proposal the CG references its “preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.”  Hah, nice try team!

*  Michigan’s DEQ has a series of videos documenting how that agency has helped redevelop some very challenging brownfield sites.  A new video was distributed last week about a project in Lansing, MI, on the Grand River, and it’s worth watching.  One comment, though: There were pictures of the old site, and old facilities, the polluting entities that left an abandoned disaster.  But something caught my eye, a bit unsettling.  The jobs at the new family-friendly site with fishing and boating excursions and sunny bike paths were mostly restaurant and retail, selling coffee and pizza and, likely, some very tasty local beers.  But, uh, hate to ask, where are the old-school jobs where people made stuff, created complex and complicated things using brains, raw materials and skill?  Yeah, decades ago they did it all wrong, environmentally.  But now we know better.  If those jobs and facilities wanted to return to the Lansing riverfront, could they?  Would they be welcome?  Couldn’t tell from the video…

Tom Ewing
reply” or
513-379-5526 voice/text