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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Contact: Lori Irving
FHWA 17-01

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces 13 Environmental Excellence Awards

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta today announced the 13 winners of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2001 Environmental Excellence Awards.

"President Bush is committed to a cleaner environment, and his budget will help to continue the progress this country has made in safeguarding our land, our water and our air," Secretary Mineta said. "These award winners have gone far beyond 'business as usual' in continuing the country's progress in protecting the environment."

Started in 1995, these biennial FHWA awards recognize partners, projects, and processes that achieve environmental excellence. This year's winners range from the ambitious streamlining of environmental reviews in Pennsylvania to an innovative landscape-design tool in Minnesota and a unique bicycle-pedestrian trail in Puerto Rico.

"These public-private efforts are good examples of environmental stewardship and successful partnering," says FHWA Deputy Executive Director Vincent Schimmoller. "They inspire us to act responsibly, protecting and enhancing the environment without compromising mobility or causing financial hardship."

The 2001 Environmental Excellence Award recipients are from California, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. Recipients from Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, and Texas received honorable mention.

FHWA received 145 nominations from 31 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. An independent panel of judges selected winners for 11 categories: Air Quality Improvement, Cultural Resources, Environmental Leadership, Environmental Research, Environmental Streamlining, Livable Communities, Non-Motorized Transportation, Recycling, Scenic Byways, Vegetation Management and Wetlands, Water Quality and Ecosytems. For the Livable Communities category, the judges selected an urban winner and a rural winner. For the Environmental Leadership category, they named a group winner and an individual winner.

Schimmoller and FHWA Planning and Environment Program Manager Cynthia Burbank will present the awards at an Earth Day ceremony on April 20 in Washington, D.C.

The following is a list of the award recipients:

The Compressed Natural Gas Refueling Station (Air Quality Improvement), New York
People who live in New York's Syracuse-Onondaga County are breathing cleaner air, thanks in part to this unique indoor "gas station" that refuels compressed natural gas buses. An outdoor station on the same site refuels CNG cars and trucks.
Contact: George Angelero, telephone 315-428-4351 or email gangel@gw.dot.state.ny.us

"Giving Something Back - The Reed Farmstead Site" (Cultural Resources), West Virginia
An integrated range of media, including videos, on-site tours, classroom visits, and two nationally-acclaimed websites, tell the story of Appalachia's 19th-century Reed Farmstead archaeological site and its West Virginia heritage.
Contact: Joe Deneault, telephone 304-558-0191, email jdeneault@dot.state.wv.us or visit Reed Farmstead's website at www.kidsdigreed.com

Gary L. Evink (Environmental Leadership, individual award), Florida
In his 25 years with the Florida Department of Transportation, Evink has excelled as a state, national, and international environmental leader. Wildlife crossings, international ecology conferences, environmental fairs for teachers, participation on the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida and increasing investment in FDOT's environmental research to more than $1 million a year number among his accomplishments.
Contact: Dick Kane, telephone 850-414-4595 or email dick.kane@dot.state.fl.us

Mare Island Accord (Environmental Leadership-group award), California
To resolve environmental issues before project development, EPA, FHWA, and Caltrans came up with a joint, performance-based action plan for improved interagency communication. The plan identified specific partnership initiatives to be accomplished within one year and set up a steering committee to track their progress and report on the results.
Contacts: (Caltrans) Ray Becker. Telephone 559-488-4067 or email ray_becker@dot.ca.gov; (EPA) Lisa Fasano, telephone 415-744-1587 or email fasano.lisa@epa.gov

Route 21 Freeway Extension (Livable Communities-urban award), New Jersey
When the last link of Route 21 in North New Jersey is completed, local residents will have a new neighborhood park extending under the roadway, access to the river's edge (previously blocked by an industrial canal), a new rose garden on the site where the "American Beauty" was developed and more.
Contact: Jeff Maclin, telephone 609-530-4280 or email jeffmaclin@dot.state.nj.us

Highway 197 Environmental Assessment Process (Livable Communities -- rural award), Minnesota
Safer pedestrian crossings, brightly-colored city-entrance monuments, a "shoreline protection plan," an historic bridge converted to bike, pedestrian, and snowmobile use are some of the amenities Bemidji, Minn., residents will gain when a 1.5-mile section of highway is reconstructed along the lakeshore.
Contact: Jeanne Aamodt, telephone 651-297-3597 or email jeanne.aamodt@dot.state.mn.us

CD-ROM Expert System for Selection of Roadside Landscape Plants (Environmental Research), Minnesota
In Minnesota, users of this new landscape-design tool can identify the right plant for the right site for the right functions. They can find 650 plants correlated with up to 49 fields of information-information they can get faster and more accurately than ever before. More than 1,600 CDs are now in use across the state.
Contact: Jeanne Aamodt.

State Route 119 South Improvement Project (Environmental Streamlining), Pennsylvania
It usually takes years to complete the environmental impact statement required for transportation projects. It only took 22 months on this highway-widening project in Indiana County. Strategies such as concurrent electronic reviews, reader-friendly graphics, and a community advisory committee proved the effectiveness of new PennDOT EIS guidelines.
Contact: Jim Struzzi, telephone 724-357-2829 or email jstruzz@dot.state.pa.us

NCDOT and Habitat for Humanity Partnership (Recycling), North Carolina
Last year on NCDOT right-of-way, Habitat for Humanity of Wake County partially deconstructed three houses scheduled for demolition, keeping debris away from the landfill. The salvaged materials, such as appliances and carpeting, went to Habitat's re-use center for resale to the public and low-income families.
Contact: Ashley Memory, telephone 919-715-2395 or email amemory@dot.state.nc.us.
Ryan Jacoby, telephone 919-833-6768, ext. 230, or email ryan@habitatwake.org

Shooting Star Wildflower Route and Scenic Byway (Scenic Byways), Minnesota
Only one percent of tallgrass prairie remains in Minnesota. Along Highway 56 in the southern part of the state, community-led teams are restoring the prairie remnants (including habitat for the "shooting star" wildflower) using controlled burns instead of mowing and herbicide-spraying.
Contact: Jeanne Aamodt.

Adirondack Park Non-Native Invasive Plant Species Project (Vegetation Management), New York
In New York's 6-million acre Adirondack Park, roadside pockets of invasive plants won't get a chance to spread and choke out native plants vital to the local ecosystem because participants in this project are pulling the invaders up by hand, burying them under geotextile fabric, and covering the area with weed-free straw mulch.
Contact: John Dean, telephone 315-793-2787 or email jdean@gw.dot.state.ny.us

Louie-Beach Advance Wetland Compensation Site (Wetlands, Water Quality, and Ecosystems), Pennsylvania This 40-acre wetland, named after two equipment operators involved in the earthwork, took just over three months to build and cost only about $3,000 an acre. For years to come it will improve local water quality and be a new home for a variety of fish and wildlife species.
Contact: Kelly Whitaker, telephone 814-696-7106 or email kwhitak@dot.state.pa.us

The Piñones Trail (Non-Motorized Transportation), Puerto Rico
San Juan residents no longer have to rely on a car to get to the beach. They can walk or bike there on an 11-kilometer elevated boardwalk, and along the way they can visit an observation tower and several visitor centers. Night use of the trail is prohibited to protect nesting sea turtles.
Contact: Iris Rivera-Ortiz, telephone 787-723-3245 or email ierivera@act.dtop.gov.pr

The judges in the 2001 awards competition also gave honorable mention to the following:

Iowa Transportation Map for Bicyclists (Non-Motorized Transportation, Iowa)
This innovative map helps bicyclists find the road routes in Iowa that best meet their transportation needs and level of experience.

U.S. 93 Realignment (Scenic Byways), Arizona
When scenic byway U.S. 93 between Wickenbury and Kingman was widened to improve safety, its natural beauty and environmental integrity were preserved.

Wetland Ponds, Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road (Wetlands, Water Quality, & Ecosystems), New York
In this Monroe County project, multi-agency teams worked with local residents to enhance a degraded wetland, improve water quality, and minimize the impacts of storm water runoff on a nearby stream system.

Texas Department of Transportation's Mitigation Bank Program (Wetlands, Water Quality, & Ecosystems)
The Texas Department of Transportation has created three wetland mitigation banks (Anderson Tract, Blue Elbow Swamp, and Coastal Bottomlands) to use on future transportation projects. The program is a practical, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional, project-by-project mitigation.

Flanders Brook Stream Relocation (Wetlands, Water Quality, & Ecosystems), New Jersey
Flanders Brook is a pristine wild trout stream along Route 206 in Morris County. When safety improvements were added to the highway, contractors, state agencies, and volunteers worked together to relocate a 200-foot section of the stream without hurting the fish or their habitat.

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