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Transportation Conformity Highlights

December 2008

Prepared by the Office of Natural and Human Environment Federal Highway Administration

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Announcements

EPA Makes Decision to Designate Areas Not Meeting Standards for PM2.5. On December 22, 2008, EPA designated 211 counties in 25 States as not meeting EPA's PM 2.5 daily standards. These nonattainment areas include counties with monitors violating the standards and nearby areas that contribute to that violation. Affected States and tribes will be required to take steps to reduce the pollution that forms fine particles. Nonattainment areas must implement "transportation conformity" on the transportation plan, program and projects one year after the effective date of the area's designation as nonattainment. In 2006, EPA strengthened the 24-hour fine particle standards from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air to protect public health. More information on the designations: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/2006standards/index.htm

FHWA releases The SAFETEA-LU 1808 CMAQ Evaluation and Assessment Phase 1 Report.In SAFETEA-LU Section 1808, Congress required the U.S. Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to evaluate and assess the direct and indirect impacts of CMAQ-funded projects on air quality and congestion levels. This study responds to that request by analyzing 67CMAQ-funded projects, using data in the FHWA CMAQ database. From this information, the study team examined the estimated impacts of these projects on emissions of transportation-related pollutants, as well as on traffic congestion and mobility. The study team also conducted additional analyses of the selected set of CMAQ-funded projects to estimate their cost-effectiveness at reducing emissions of each pollutant. In 2009, we will release the Phase 2 Report that examines indirect impacts and best practices of the CMAQ Program using information gathered in seven site visits. Phase 1 of the SAFETEA-LU 1808: CMAQ Evaluation and Assessment Report is available on FHWA's Web-site: (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/cmaq/research/safetea-lu_phase_1/). A PDF version of the report is also available for download. For further information on the Report(s), please consult with Victoria Martinez at 787-766-5600 X231 or email, victoria.martinez@dot.gov.

EPA Releases 2008 Performance and Accountability Report. On November 18 the U.S. EPA released a new report that describes EPA's environmental and financial progress over the past year. The Performance and Accountability Report for FY2008 highlights the agency's efforts to enhance environmental protection in a variety of areas include air quality, water quality, and Superfund sites. The report also discusses progress in increasing health and environmental safety through pesticide and chemical evaluation, and by avoiding pollution through strong enforcement actions. To see the full report, go to: http://nepis.epa.gov/.

Georgia Institute of Technology to Study Sources and Effects of Particulate Matter.The U.S. EPA announced an $899,956 grant to Georgia Institute of Technology (Tech) to develop a new technique to determine the sources and effects of particulate matter (PM). Tech will use more than 10 years of air quality and health data from Atlanta, GA and St. Louis, MO in their research. The grant is funded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program which targets research that complements EPA's research program and those of other federal partners. http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/8930/report/0

VMT & Climate Policy Dialogue.On November 13-14, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) in Washington, D.C., convened the second meeting of its VMT & Climate Policy Dialogue to develop effective policy packages for reducing transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by slowing VMT growth and increasing system efficiency. Participants included high-level representatives from government, nonprofits and industry. For more information about the CCAP Initiatives, go to: http://www.ccap.org/.

New Requirements to Help Large Trucks and Buses Meet Clean Air Standards.On December 4, U.S. EPA announced the final rule putting new requirements on heavy-duty vehicles to help them run as cleanly as possible over their entire life on the road. On-board diagnostic systems (OBD) will now be required on heavy-duty vehicles. OBDs monitor emission control systems and detect malfunctions. For more information, go to: http://www.epa.gov/obd/regtech/heavy.htm

Updated Use of Latest Planning Assumptions in Conformity Determinations Guidance.On December 29, 2008, EPA posted on its website an update to the January 18, 2001, joint EPA-DOT guidance on latest planning assumptions to make it consistent with the current conformity rule. On July 1, 2004, the conformity rule was amended to allow a conformity determination to be based on the latest planning assumptions in force at the time the conformity analysis begins, rather than at the time of DOT's conformity determination. The updated joint EPA-DOT guidance can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/stateresources/transconf/policy.htm. It will also be posted soon on FHWAs website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/policy_and_guidance/.

Reminders

The 88th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting. The TRB 88th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 2009, will include more than 60 sessions and workshops that address the meeting's spotlight theme of Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change. The intent of these sessions will be to raise awareness of the implications of both the transportation sector's adverse contributions to climate change, as well as the effect that climate change has had and will continue to have on the transportation systems of tomorrow. For more information on the TRB Annual Meeting, see: http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=9550.

Training Opportunities

FHWA Resource Center releases new CAL3Interface.The Air Quality Technical Service Team of the FHWA Resource Center designed and constructed an easy-to-use interface (known as the CAL3Interface) for two of the U.S. EPA's most widely used highway air quality models, CALINE3 and CAL3QHC. These models are used for highway air quality impact assessments as part of the NEPA process, as well as for CO hot-spot analyses in conformity determinations. To make the jobs of transportation professionals easier, the CAL3Interface includes interactive graphical forms for entering the required data, grouped by: 1) control data; 2) receptor data; 3) link data; and 4) meteorological data. Plus, it allows the models to operate on the Microsoft? Windows? operating system by providing modes for program execution; displaying results in a summary table, bar graph, or model printout; and opening, saving, and printing data files. Perhaps more importantly, the CAL3Interface extends the functionality of the available CALINE3 and CAL3QHC models by:

The program is available for public release. For instructions in obtaining a copy, contact Mike Claggett at Michael.Claggett@dot.gov.

Introduction to Transportation Conformity Course.The National Transit Institute course will be offered in Tampa, Florida on January 27-29, 2009. This introductory course is a two and one-half day training course. For more information on future sessions and to register contact: http://www.ntionline.com/CourseInfo.asp?CourseNumber=FP213.

FHWA Resource Center Training Activities.FHWA's Resource Center Air Quality Technical Services Team is available to offer air quality-related training opportunities and information is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/courses.cfm. For further information, contact: Mike Roberts at 404-562-3928 or at Michael.Roberts@dot.gov.

FHWA Resource Center Air Quality Team:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/index.cfm.

If you have any suggestions for future monthly conformity highlights, please email: ssiwek@aol.com.

Updated: 07/10/2014
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