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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-09-006    Date:  Sept/Oct 2009
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-09-006
Issue No: Vol. 73 No. 2
Date: Sept/Oct 2009


Internet Watch

by Alicia Sindlinger

Promoting Federal Clean Air Goals

In many U.S. cities, the automobile is a major polluter, accounting for more than 25 percent of air pollution nationwide. Two Federal laws—the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and the Clean Air Act Amendments—set mobility and clean air goals for State and local governments. To garner public support to meet the requirements in the laws, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed a public education campaign known as It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air.

In 2008, the initiative narrowed its focus to providing free, commercial-quality educational materials and marketing tools on an improved Web site at www.italladdsup.gov. The Web site and outreach resources help to increase public awareness about the connections between transportation choices and air pollution, forming a base upon which agencies can introduce programs to reduce air pollution, such as automobile inspection and maintenance initiatives, which frequently meet with public opposition.

"The high-quality marketing materials are the heart of It All Adds Up," says April Marchese, director of the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Natural and Human Environment. "And having them available in one location, on a user-friendly Web site, provides easy access so they can continue to be used. The Web site is the most efficient means of disseminating these materials to State and local agencies."

Public Education and Partnership Building

After years of steady growth, the messages, materials, and outreach tools are being used in more than 100 communities in all but six States. The communities use a variety of approaches, from holding a children's poster contest to offering mechanic-led car maintenance tutorial sessions, demonstrating the versatility of the initiative.

Implementing It All Adds Up has empowered communities to establish and strengthen both traditional and nontraditional partnerships. For example, one effort in Pennsylvania brings together more than 160 partners from State and Federal governments, municipalities, hospitals, transportation management associations, and private firms. These partnerships help to leverage resources, sustain and validate the effort, and bring together best practices.

To educate the public, the messages consistently emphasize four simple, convenient actions that people can take to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion: use trip chaining, that is, combine errands into a single car trip; keep vehicles properly maintained; refuel in the evening and avoid topping off the gas tank; and choose alternate modes of transportation, such as carpooling, mass transit, bicycling, or walking.

A screenshot of the "It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air" Web site.
The "It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air" Web site.

Tools To Help Get It Done

Critical to the success of any air quality program is developing the necessary messages, materials, and resources. That's where the "It All Adds Up" Web site comes in—providing easy access to tools for educating the public and introducing effective air pollution reduction programs.

A key section of the Web site, Tools for Organizations, houses the free marketing materials, including print ads, billboards, flyers, and television commercials—even Spanish translations of many materials—which are downloadable and easily customizable. The "It All Adds Up" Web site also features a number of additional resources for outreach organizers. From the site's Education Center, organizers can download interactive workbooks and tutorials about how to develop a communications strategy and find tips for implementing programs by reading other communities' success stories. Site visitors also can participate in the It All Adds Up Exchange, where they can share ideas, opinions, and leads, help each other solve problems, and share their products.

"It's been a real lifesaver to have all of the clean air materials and information available on the Web site," says Charise Stephens, who leads a clean air initiative that reaches across the State of Georgia. "Our community members have really responded to the messages and now have a much better understanding of how their transportation choices affect the quality of the air we all breathe." Stephens' network of private and public partners has seen a significant increase in public participation since the initiative began in 2004.

Communities across the country are using It All Adds Up materials to customize outreach and public education initiatives that effectively communicate transportation and clean air messages to local citizens. By using the Web to connect State and local agencies to the materials, It All Adds Up has uncovered a formula for success—providing the resources agencies need to help their communities make wiser transportation choices, thereby improving air quality across the country.

To learn more, visit www.italladdsup.gov or contact Kathy Daniel at 202-366-6276 or kathy.daniel@dot.gov.

Alicia Sindlinger is a contributing editor for Public Roads.



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