Leaner and Greener: Sustainability at Work in Transportation

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, December 6th, 2012



While working to provide the nation with safe, efficient, and reliable means of transporta- tion, state departments of transportation (DOTs) are faced with the challenges of filling the widening gap between transportation investment needs and transportation funding, while balancing community concerns, and protecting environmental quality. To successfully meet these challenges, DOTs are using sustainable practices to become leaner and greener.

Leaders in transportation know that, in addition to meeting mobility and safety needs, transportation investments must balance three important objectives:

  • Fiscal responsibility;
  • Community quality of life; and
  • Commitment to a better environment.

The idea of balancing economic, environmental, and community objectives is sometimes called sustainability or meeting the triple bottom line; leaner and greener also has the same meaning.

What does leaner and greener look like? This report provides many examples, and the Kansas Department of Transportation’s (KDOT) investment in ecologically friendly mowing practices offers a simple illustration. Thanks to an agreement with the Audubon Society of Kansas and other groups, KDOT’s mowing policies are promoting re-growth of prairie habitat along many of the 146,000 acres of land adjacent to the state’s highways while saving the DOT about $1.5 million a year in lower fuel costs and enhancing road users’ safety.

The basic elements of leaner and greener transportation investments do not change from state to state; but the individual solutions agencies choose are diverse. For example, part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s solution is cost-efficient low-impact bridge replacement designs that have decreased bridge replacement time by as much as four years and typically shrink project costs by 25 percent while supporting water quality goals. In Minnesota, the DOT’s solution includes smart snow and ice removal practices to reduce salt usage and associated winter maintenance costs while reducing impacts to the environment and enhancing safety.

Download full report (PDF): Leaner and Greener: Sustainability at Work in Transportation

About the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
“AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highways, public transportation, rail, and water. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.”

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