Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EPA grant to TDOT will reduce idling at TN truck stops

Governor Bredesen Announces EPA Recovery Act Grant Award to Tennessee
Grant Will Fund Efforts to “Electrify” Truck Stops Across Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Governor Bredesen announced today that the Environmental Protection Agency has selected the Tennessee Department of Transportation to receive a $2 million American Reinvestment and Recovery Act discretionary grant to begin equipping truck stops across the state with truck stop electrification (TSE) technology. Truck stop electrification systems provide heating and cooling for sleeper cab compartments and power to run electrical appliances, such as computers and microwaves. TSE systems also allow trucks outfitted with on-board equipment to "plug in" to operate necessary systems without idling the engine.

“To help improve highway safety, truck drivers are required to rest for 10 hours after driving 11 hours, and trucks idling for extended periods impact air quality and can be costly for their drivers,” said Bredesen. “The electrification infrastructure that will be installed through this Recovery Act grant will allow truck drivers across Tennessee to reduce diesel emissions, save money and remain comfortable when resting.”

The project titled, “Reducing Idling Emissions from Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks: Tennessee's Green Corridor Approach to Truck Stop Electrification,” was one of 99 projects in the southeast submitted to EPA for Recovery Act discretionary grant funds to improve air quality. The project will also save trucking companies the cost of fuel that would be used when idling. The EPA estimates that annual fuel savings could exceed $3,240 per truck parking space.

"This grant is a great investment in environmental protection and will provide long-term economic benefits for Tennessee," said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Regional Administrator in Atlanta. "This funding will go a long way in helping to bolster the economy and protect public health and the environment by creating green jobs that improve air quality."

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that approximately 5,000 truck stops in the United States offer parking and other services, including fueling stations, restaurants, stores, and showers. The Recovery Act grant award will allow TDOT to solicit competitive grant applications from truck stop companies to purchase and install TSE technology at truck parking spaces at 6-10 truck stops along Tennessee’s interstate corridors.

“Avoiding unnecessary engine idling is a simple, practical way to protect air quality, especially for large diesel trucks, because it saves fuel and money, and reduces harmful emissions,” said TDOT Commissioner Nicely. “This project is another step toward achieving cleaner transportation in Tennessee, and we look forward to partnering with truck stops across the state to provide truckers with another practical option to reduce engine idling and save money.”

To prepare their applications, truck stops will seek bids from TSE technology vendors. Truck stops may request up to 100 percent funding, although adding match dollars will strengthen their application. Grant selection criteria will include the truck stop’s proximity to areas with large volumes of diesel trucks, cost-effectiveness in terms of average cost per TSE parking space, the match (if any) provided by the company, amenities offered by the truck stop to attract truckers, the quality of the truck stop marketing plan, willingness to establish idle-free zones at the truck stop, and ease of access from the interstate.

The request for truck stop applications will be published in early July and will allow about 60 days for the preparation of applications. Information on the program will be posted on the TDOT website at www.Tennessee.gov/tdot/recovery.

Smart Trips in the news

Green Commutes Growing in June 30 Knoxville News Sentinel business section

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009


Thanks to Ellen Zavisca for sharing this excerpt:

Improve Livability and Environmental Sustainability of Communities

Providing transportation choices and creating livable communities is essential to improving mobility for all users and ensuring that the transportation system enhances our quality of life. Expanding access to sustainable modes of transportation, and incorporating long-term mobility needs into the community planning process will yield significant benefits for public health and the environment.

To provide national leadership for the creation of livable communities and the developmentof sustainable transportation choices, the Surface Transportation Authorization Act creates an Office of Livability within the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of DOT.

The Office of Livability will establish a focal point within FHWA to advance environmentally sustainable modes of transportation, including transit, walking, and bicycling. This Office will encourage integrated planning, linking land use and transportation planning, to support the creation of livable communities. To ensure that roadways are built with the needs of all users in mind, the Surface Transportation Authorization Act requires that States and metropolitan regions consider comprehensive street design principles. Comprehensive street design takes into account the needs of all users, including motorists, motorcyclists, transit riders, cyclists, pedestrians, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. Comprehensive street design principles are not prescriptive,do not mandate any particular design elements, and result in greatly varied facilities depending on the specific needs of the community in which they are located.

The Surface Transportation Authorization Act transforms the current transportation
planning process by linking transportation planning with greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The Environmental Protection Agency, in consultation with DOT, will establish national transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. DOT, under the existing transportation planning process, will require States and metropolitan regions to develop surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and incorporate strategies to meet these targets into their transportation plans. DOT, through performance measures, will verify that States and metropolitan areas achieve progress towards national transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction

CAC's Volunteer Assisted Transportation

This from Warren Secrest at CAC's Office on Aging:
VOLUNTEER ASSISTED TRANSPORTATION - Provides accessible and affordable transportation to Knox County seniors and persons with disabilities who require assistance to travel safely. Transportation is provided by screened and trained volunteer drivers in agency-owned vehicles. Volunteers provide reasonable, non-medical assistance to riders throughout their trips. Riders may request transportation and assistance to medical appointments, shopping, essential errands, as well as social and recreational trips. Ride availability is based on volunteer driver availiability. In-county fare: $3.00 one-way or $6.00 roundtrip. Out of county fares will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Sliding scale fares availiable. Donations accepted. Application required to determine rider eligibility.

Warren Secrest
CAC Office on Aging
Volunteer Assisted Transportation
2247 Western Avenue
P.O. Box 51650
Knoxville, TN 37950-1650
ph 865-524-2786
fx 865-546-0832
"CAC: Helping People. Changing Lives."

Senate Passes "Cash for Clunkers" Program


Lots of info for those with extra time

Here are some great alternative transportation sites, courtesy of transalt.org (some are location-specific, but could provide ideas for future Smart Trips initiatives if you're interested). If you follow the link, it will lead to sites which I'll be perusing to share interesting nuggets here as time allows. Feel free to discuss, share, suggest, get excited, what have you.

United We Serve

I attended a meeting today about Obama's "United We Serve" campaign, which is currently gaining traction in Knox County with non-profits and grassroots groups connecting with volunteers interested in coordinating their own service projects or supporting those already in existence.
The campaign will run from June 22 through September 11, 2009, and the four focus areas are: promoting clean energy, energy efficiency and public land restoration; supporting education and literacy for all Americans; increasing health care access, public health awareness and prevention; and providing community renewal to areas hardest hit by the economic crisis.
The meeting this morning at United Way, the agency coordinating the local committee, brought together 70 or so local government, nonprofit and service groups to brainstorm a plan for our community, which is a model county for the program nationwide. Some ideas that were mentioned included: planting community gardens, assisting with clean-up of blighted properties, identifying county-owned properties that could be converted into community gardens or public space and assisting with clean-up to meet codes, reading to children, mentoring and tutoring, organizing bike trains and walking school buses for elementary school students in your neighborhood, planting trees, a "Share the Health" day on Market Square Sept. 11, conducting audits of your home's energy use on the KUB website, donating books, bikes and seeds to benefit the three focus areas, working with seniors to promote health and exercise... it was a great brainstorming session with lots of neat ideas.
Visit http://www.serve.gov/ for more information, to create a project, find a volunteer opportunity or lend your support and ideas.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

City of Knoxville energy efficiency and conservation plans

City to Establish Curbside Recycling Program
June 17, 2009 - The City of Knoxville will use part of a $2.012 million federal stimulus grant to try and establish a single-stream, curbside recycling program for residents.

In addition to the recycling effort the city wants to use funds from the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant Program – part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – to support seven different energy and conservation related initiatives. The U.S. Department of Energy is managing the block grants...

Read more: http://www.cityofknoxville.org/Press_Releases/Content/2009/0617b.asp

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vehicle Miles Traveled: Where we stand (still in traffic)

In case you're like me and can't read the following text, Knoxville ranks 13 per capita and 64th nationally in Vehicle Miles Traveled, according to this December 2008study by the Brookings Institute:
Brookings VMT Cities Ranking Brookings VMT Cities Ranking jlhughes Appendix A. 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas Based on 2005 Employment, Ranked by VMT per Capita on Principal ArterialsThe Road…Less Traveled:An Analysis of Vehicle MilesTraveled Trends in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Commuter Challenge drawing to a close

Please remember to log your commutes by June 12 to be eligible for the Commuter Challenge grand finale drawing June 15. The Challenge coincided with the SmartFix40 interstate construction, and since its May 2008 inception, thousands of dollars in monthly and quarterly gift cards have been distributed to Smart Trips participants who have logged 5 days of alternative commutes each month.
On June 15, the lucky winners of our grand prizes will be announced, with prizes including:
10 iPod Shuffles
6 iPod Touch
6 Nintendo Wii
and one $1500 AAA travel package!
Stay tuned and good luck!!

Smart Trips Month winners gather at luncheon

Winners of the Smart Trips Month awards gathered June 10 at the Square Room on Market Square for an awards luncheon. Displaying their certificates of recognition are (from left): Elizabeth Eason Architect employees Matthew Kellogg, Monika Miller, Andrew Godwin and Elizabeth Eason (winners of the Small Business Challenge with highest participation by a small business during Smart Trips Month); Chris Barrett (winner of the Wheel to Reel video contest); Jeremy Chandler (Go Getter award recipient as a runner-up for Longest Bicycle Commute, Most Diverse Commute and overall support of the program); Jim Smith (Longest Bicycle Commute, with an approximate round trip of 50 miles); recipients of the Most People in a Carpool award Alan Sims, Jessica Humphrey, Janie Shanafield and Kevin Webb; TVA employee Regina Mackay (accepting the Large Business award for TVA with the highest number of new registrants during Smart Trips Month); and Carlos Yunsan (recipient of the Most Diverse Commute for combining carpooling, transit and walking each day on his route to work). Not pictured: Paul Clouse, winner of the Wheel to Reel video contest; Lisa Webb, member of the Most People in a Carpool; Adam Dattillo, Go Getter; and Charles Weber, tied for the Longest Bicycle Commute.

Air Quality Days

Don't forget KAT is offering free bus rides on air quality action days this summer.

Sign up for the Weather Alerts from WBIR and get notified automatically when there is an Air Quality Alert day of Orange or higher!
To sign up, just go to the WBIR Text Alerts sign-up page, enter your information and select either the "Severe Weather Alert" for Knox County or the "Daily Weather Forecast."

More on our air quality here from Knox County:
First Knoxville Air Alert Issued in 2009
Posted: June 3, 2009
The first air quality alert for the Knoxville valley and Great Smoky Mountains was issued for June 1st. This alert came a month later than last year, in spite of new ozone standards that went in effect in 2008. The revised standards are based on new scientific evidence and are more protective of human health. The alerts are issued much as a weather forecast in that conditions such that poor air quality may result. Thirty-two alerts were issued last year between April 1st and mid-September, though not all resulted in poor air quality days. The Environmental Protection Agency's AirNow website http://airnow.gov/ provides current air quality conditions and forecasts.

Following are steps you can take to reduce air pollution:

Car pool or use public transportation (KAT is free on air alert days
Limit engine idling, skip the drive thru
Combine errands
Conserve energy by turning off unneeded appliances/lights
Cut back air conditioning
Postpone lawn mowing and filling of gas tanks until evening
No open burning
Take your lunch or walk to a nearby restaurant

New KAT buses and future plans

I attended the KAT press conference yesterday that unveiled the look of the new shiny buses and announced details of upcoming changes, including proposed route changes to accompany the 2010 transit center opening and helpful new GPS systems.
More info is here... http://www.cityofknoxville.org/Press_Releases/Content/2009/0609c.asp
Any thoughts?