We recognize that the development and operation of our
transportation system has significant impacts on our natural
environment. These include the use of energy and other natural
resources, land use changes, and impacts to air and water quality. As
we observe Earth Week 2013, we'll describe a few of the initiatives
that WisDOT is undertaking to ensure that we accomplish our mission in
a way that minimizes environmental impacts and maximizes the efficient
use of energy and natural resources.
Earth Week in April spotlights department's environmental
Earth Day falls on April 22 of each year. In 2013, Earth Week is
being observed from April 21 through 27. The Wisconsin Department of
Transportation (WisDOT), as part of its everyday business, considers
environmental impacts and encourages "green" strategies. We're
profiling just a few — the use of recycled materials, green highway
initiatives and the RIDESHARE travel program.
With a proactive, goal-oriented recycling and reclaimed materials
program, WisDOT is a state leader in recycling, with a program that
includes road construction and maintenance, office equipment, fleet
and building operations. The department-wide program supports WisDOT's
vision, improves operational efficiency, benefits the environment and
offers economic savings.
WisDOT has reclaimed, recycled, and reused materials in highway
projects for years on construction projects. Increasing the use
of recycled and reclaimed materials is a matter of policy and
procedure, as requirements are in WisDOT Standard Specifications,
effective for all contracts starting in January 2009. The department
communicates within and outside of WisDOT the rationale and benefits
of the program. Recycling materials helps solve problems by
relieving shortages, extends landfill life and natural resources, and
reduces air and water pollution.
In state fiscal year (SFY) 2012, 2.15 million tons of recycled
materials were used on WisDOT projects. Materials that are
typically reclaimed and recycled on road construction include:
WisDOT's goal is to increase the use of recycled materials in road
construction where economic and engineering benefits are identified.
Our commitment is measured through the MAPSS Performance Improvement
Program, with tons of recycled materials used in projects one of the
measures reported on the
MAPSS Scorecard. While
trending was down slightly in SFY 2012 compared to SFY11, the
department will continue to work toward the goal to incorporate two
million tons of recycled materials each year.
This goal lends to green highway initiatives. A "green
highway" meets transportation requirements while applying stewardship
to the environment, enhancing both. It is defined by the effort
to leave the project area better than it was before, through community
partnering, caring for the environment, and improving safety and
functionality of the transportation network.
The root of the green highway partnership started in 2002,
resulting from collaboration between the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Federal Highway Administration. The scope of
planning a green highway is expansive. It looks at every
perspective that will be impacted by the construction of a highway.
WisDOT incorporates sustainable elements into transportation project
designs and encourages the use of recycled and reclaimed materials. There is also a successful rest stop recycling program at all
Interstate rest areas and waysides that receive more than 1,000
vehicles per day, typically collecting aluminum cans, plastic, glass,
newspapers and magazines.
Other characteristics of a green highway include identifying and
protecting important historical and cultural landmarks, and reducing
disruption to the ecological process.
Encouraging sustainable transportation project design helps
reaffirm commitment to future generations, enhances quality of life
and conserves natural resources.
Another program that WisDOT promotes — to encourage environmental
awareness — is the RIDESHARE program. RIDESHARE brings commuters
together for carpooling and bicycle commuting. It's a free
service provided by the State of Wisconsin, serving all of Wisconsin
and bordering counties in the neighboring states of Iowa, Illinois,
Michigan and Minnesota. The program serves individual commuters
who drive, ride or bike, as well as employers to help improve air
quality, reduce congestion and provide "green" alternative commuting
options and programs.
During Earth Week from April 21 through 27, RIDESHARE has a
"bike buddy" promotion taking place to match registrants to other
bicyclists (receive a free reflective arm or leg bike band).
There are currently over 500 registered bicyclists in the program.
RIDESHARE "bike buddies" commute together by bicycling to work,
thereby saving on gas and emissions, helping the environment and
getting exercise. RIDESHARE information is on the WisDOT web
site at www.rideshare.wi.gov.
Use caution in work zones
With about 450 state highway and bridge improvement projects
scheduled across Wisconsin this construction season, drivers can
expect to see plenty of orange barrels the next several months.
Drivers are urged to plan ahead, and be especially alert for work
zones. Construction projects that may impact travel include: work
along I-94 between Hudson and Tomah; the second half of the Wisconsin
River Bridge project in Columbia County; work along I-94, the Zoo
Interchange and Hoan Bridge in the Milwaukee area, and work along US
41 in northeast Wisconsin. Travelers are encouraged to check the
state’s 511 Travel Information System
before hitting the road. As part of efforts to keep motorists and
highway workers safe, traffic fines double in work zones. Last year,
about 1,700 crashes occurred in Wisconsin work zones resulting in six
deaths and over 730 injuries.
Adopt-a-Highway volunteers clearing litter from roads
Motorists are also being asked to keep an eye out for
Wisconsin Adopt-a-Highway (AAH) program volunteers busy picking up
a winter’s worth of trash along state roadways. Last year, Wisconsin
AAH groups picked up some 180 tons of trash, making highways more
attractive to travelers and saving taxpayers' dollars. There are
currently more than 3,000 registered AAH groups in Wisconsin tasked
with cleaning their assigned two-mile highway segment at least three
times a year. There's always a need for more AAH volunteers. Of
Wisconsin’s 11,800-miles of state and Interstate highways, some 3,600
miles are still available for "adoption."
Warmer weather means more motorcycles/mopeds on the roads
As spring temperatures warm, so does the urge for motorcyclists to
head out on the highway. But operating any type of motorized bike
requires special skills and equipment. Transportation safety officials
strongly suggest that all motorcycle, scooter or moped operators take
an appropriate-level safety course, and always wear safety gear. Many
training sites offer classes for beginners, returning or advanced
cycle operators. Car and truck drivers are asked to share the road and
watch for motorcycles especially at intersections, and be careful not
to turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle. More information on
training classes and motorcycle safety can be found on the WisDOT
Wisconsin Department of Transportation's MAPSS Performance Improvement
Program reviews performance measures for five key goal areas that
guide us in achieving our mission – mobility, accountability,
preservation, safety and service. To check out the latest online
reports, simply click on the MAPSS logo.
The WisDOT Connector is produced by the Wisconsin
Department of Transportation.