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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 58· No. 4 > Editor's Comment: Earth Issue

Spring 1995
Vol. 58· No. 4

Earth Issues.

A year ago, Debbie Stroessner of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Program Development suggested that we focus the Spring 1995 issue of the magazine on an environmental theme in conjunction with the recognition of "Earth Day" on April 21, 1995. As Debbie so astutely observed, the "environment" is an appropriate theme for Public Roads -- most of the articles in this issue describe environmental policies and programs of FHWA -- because it is a major theme of the agency itself.

A primary goal of the agency, according to the FHWA National Strategic Plan 1995, is to "be an environmentally conscious organization that practices active leadership in working with our partners to protect and enhance the natural and human environment." This goal leads to four specific objectives:

  • Initiatives are implemented in cooperation with resource agencies to protect and enhance the natural environment.
  • Achieve air-quality requirements through cooperative efforts with state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and air-quality agencies.
  • Environmental protection and enhancement are integrated into the planning and project development processes.
  • Transportation decisions explicitly protect and enhance social and community values.

The articles in this issue are related to these objectives.

The FHWA Environmental Policy Statement 1994 and its introductory article by Federal Highway Administrator Rodney E. Slater describe the "framework for action" and the principles that are key to enabling FHWA to contribute to a sustainable development that unites protection of the natural and human environments with economic growth and well-being. These principles, which were part of FHWA's first environmental policy statement (EPS) in 1990 and are the basis of the 1994 EPS, are:

  • Full involvement of our partners.
  • Complete integration of environmental concerns.
  • Active protection and enhancement of our environment.
  • Vigorous research, technology transfer, and training.
  • Effective development and promotion of environmental expertise.

Cindy Burbank and Mike Savonis in ITS and the Environment and The CMAQ Program: Realizing ISTEA's Promise, respectively, write about some of the air-quality problems facing transportation planners and managers, requirements, and actions and alternatives.

In New Strategies Can Improve Winter Road Maintenance Operations, Andy Mergenmeier reports on field testing in 15 states to enable highway agencies to develop an anti-icing strategy, rather than a deicing strategy, to keep our roads clear of ice and snow.

The National Recreational Trails Funding Program by Christopher Douwes and the National Scenic Byways Clearinghouse by Mary Ann McNamara tell about two programs that are partnerships of federal, state, and local officials -- as well as private citizens -- to promote the compatibility of protecting our environmental resources and the recreational use of these resources.

Gary Hunter and Mark Taylor describe two Federal Lands Highway Office projects that represent how FHWA integrates environmental protection and enhancement into the planning and project development processes and how transportation decisions explicitly protect and enhance social and community values. Preserving a Sense of Wildness, which is about a project in Grand Teton National Park, and Arizona's General Hitchcock Highway: Balancing Safety and the Environment also show that we can simultaneously meet environmental, transportation, and economic needs.

The FHWA attitude toward environmental concerns was summed up by Ginny Finch in a recent Public Roads article about the FHWA Environmental Research Program: "For FHWA environmental concerns are much more than a buzzword. FHWA is committed to contributing to an enhanced environment with improved tools and technologies for alleviating highway intermodal impacts on air quality, noise, wetlands, hazardous waste sites, water quality, and historic resources."

Bob Bryant

Editor

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