Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters named seven state transportation department initiatives as models for providing extraordinary environmental benefits to the communities in which they were built.
“We’re committed to making environmental protection integral to improvements we’re making in our nation’s highway system,” said Peters.
Peters praised state departments of transportation in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, New York and Virginia for developing projects she deemed “exemplary ecosystem initiatives.” The individual projects encourage protection of endangered or threatened species and range from black bear preservation to replacing man-made flood control measures with backwater lakes, marshes and floodplain forests.
Since 2002, the FHWA each year recognizes a small group of highway projects that meet new environmental protection and conservation objectives. Peters said she hopes these model projects will encourage state transportation departments to include environmental enhancement measures in highway and bridge projects.
The projects include Alabama’s program to protect the federally threatened gopher tortoise and Florida’s first-of-its kind program to protect wildlife and wetland habitats and Georgia’s program protecting a diverse range of plant and wildlife species along the Flint River. Peters also lauded Illinois’s program to return a wetland bank in LaGrange back to its natural state.
Other projects include a program in Mississippi to save hardwood trees, a program in New York to protect and enhance native plant life in the Adirondack Park and a program in Virginia that provides wildlife areas for more than 200 species of birds and a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ecosystems/index.htm.