The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), announced the winners of the 2017 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards.
“As May is Clean Air Month, this is a fitting time to recognize achievements in sustainable transportation and the positive affects this industry can have on the environment,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Since 2000, during a period of historic growth for Tennessee, pollutants have decreased and our air has become cleaner. Currently, the entire state is designated attainment for the federal ozone standard.”
The Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state. The forum continues today at the downtown Nashville Public Library.
A panel of judges selected the following entities as the 2017 winners of the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards. A full description of the winners and projects follow.
- Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
- Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency
- City of Johnson City
- IdleAir and Covenant Transportation Group, Inc.
- Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works
- Memphis Light, Gas and Water
- Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
- Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Public Works Department
- Tennessee Department of Transportation
- The TMA Group
- United Parcel Service, Inc.
Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
Solar Assisted Electric Vehicle Charging and Car Share
The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), with funding provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), has launched an integrated public Level-2 charging and electric vehicle car share network along its existing public transit system. Providing 56 charging ports across 20 locations, the system’s energy use is compensated by the installation of three new solar power generators with a combined capacity of 80 kW. Green Commuter, a Los Angeles headquartered benefit corporation, was selected by CARTA to launch the state’s first all-electric public car share system with the initial deployment of 20 Nissan LEAFs in Chattanooga. Offering on-demand hourly and daily rentals, Green Commuter vehicles serve the central business district, key employment and residential centers, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Southern Adventist University, and complement existing transit and bike share networks.
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency
GreenTrips: A Chattanooga-Hamilton County-North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization Program
GreenTrips is a transportation demand management program that aims to reduce emissions from mobile sources by rewarding Chattanooga and Hamilton County area residents for taking more sustainable trips. Members earn prizes for walking, cycling, carpooling, taking public transportation, or working a compressed schedule or from home instead of driving alone. From its public launch in June 2013 through the end of December 2016, the GreenTrips program has avoided over 2.1 million pounds of airborne pollution and over 3.1 million miles of single-occupant vehicle driving. To date, over 1,700 individuals have signed up for the program and have logged over 300,000 trips. GreenTrips launched as a pilot program of the Strategic Long Range Planning department of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency (RPA). The RPA administers the program throughout the Chattanooga-Hamilton County-North Georgia-Transportation Planning Organization area (TPO). GreenTrips is primarily funded by the federal CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) Improvement Program.
City of Johnson City
The Tweetsie Trail is a rails-to-trails project traversing 10 miles of the former East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) railroad between Johnson City and Elizabethton, Tennessee. After purchasing the out-of-service rail corridor in 2013, the City of Johnson City held public meetings to solicit feedback as to the best use of the corridor. The Johnson City Metropolitan Planning Organization, Carter County, City of Elizabethton, Town of Jonesborough, City of Johnson City, Washington County, Town of Unicoi, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and a team of consultants comprised of Alta Greenways, Parsons Brinkerhoff, and the Bradley Arant Boult law firm compiled a master plan, which outlined existing conditions and goals for the trail. The first seven mile segment opened in August of 2014, and the final three mile segment opened in August 2015. Financially supported through a public-private partnership, the trail serves residents of Johnson City, Carter County, and Elizabethton with a means of alternative transportation between the cities. The trail also provides access and linkages to many K-12 schools, East Tennessee State University, Sycamore Shoals State Park, many local businesses, and several residential areas. Comprised of a surface of small, packed gravel, Tweetsie Trail provides opportunities for walking, running, and bicycling; amenities along the trail include benches, informational signs describing the history and geology of the area, mile markers, pedestrian boardwalk bridges, pedestrian crosswalks, bike racks, pavilions, a quarry overlook, an outdoor classroom space, paved parking areas, and trail maps.
IdleAir and Covenant Transportation Group, Inc.
Truck Stop Electrification at Covenant Transport, Chattanooga
The Covenant Transport facility in Chattanooga is the site of the most recent private terminal installation of Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) equipment in Tennessee. Drivers who do not live in the region but visit the property, either to exchange loads or perform truck maintenance, frequently spend the night to comply with U.S. Department of Transportation hours of service requirements. For every hour that a truck idles, it consumes on average one gallon of diesel. Drivers typically do not have an alternative means to maintain a comfortable temperature or to get electricity for onboard appliances without idling. IdleAir provides these amenities and more to the vehicle’s window by way of electrically powered off-board TSE hardware. In 2014, Covenant Transportation Group, Inc. partnered with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition (ETCF) and IdleAir to install 20 spaces of TSE at this terminal, located on Birmingham Way in Chattanooga. A portion of the construction and TSE equipment cost was funded by a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant, awarded to the ETCF in 2014 by EPA Region 4. To date, this project has offset 332 tons of CO2, 4.3 tons NOx, 0.1 ton of PM2.5, 1.8 tons of CO, and 0.2 tons of VOCs, totaling 338.4 tons of airborne pollutants offset. This improves quality of life for nearby residents and Covenant’s drivers, while reducing ozone formation at the ground level. By adopting TSE technology and other fuel saving measures, Covenant Transport has proven itself as a leader in environmental stewardship and promotion of driver health and safety.
Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works
Knox County Walk to School Improvement Project
For years, Knox County Schools, the Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works, and the Knox County Health Department have worked hand-in-hand to increase opportunities for walking and biking to over 80 schools in the 508 square mile county. Given the large number of schools and students, the variety of land use contexts, and a specific budget allocation for making non-motorized improvements, an automated process was necessary for estimating likely walk-to-school trips and determining sidewalk construction priorities. To aid in this process, the Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works hired RPM Transportation Consultants to assist in the estimation and mapping of walk trips based upon their development of a unique non-motorized trip modeling process. RPM’s GIS model was specifically molded for Knox County in order to best estimate the impact of distance on walk trip probability. Using a process that incorporated fine-grained student data as well as new web-based apps, the technical prioritization and detailed needs analyses resulted in various low-cost improvements for some of the highway system’s youngest users. These low-cost improvements included the addition of new sidewalk connections, construction of trails and/or greenways, identification of key parcels for requiring the installation of sidewalks as development occurs, improving pedestrian crossings, and the development of a neighborhood route and encouragement plan for specific residential areas. In turn, the data has been used to prompt further discussions surrounding adequate pedestrian accommodations around schools in the county as well as across the State.
Memphis Light, Gas and Water
Public Access CNG Refueling Stations
In 2013, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) invested over $500,000 to convert its privately owned compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station to the area’s first public-access CNG refueling station, enabling all businesses and residents of Memphis and Shelby County to convert from gasoline and diesel to cleaner, domestically produced natural gas. The following year, a second public refueling CNG station was built. The stations are close to high traffic industry access ways, to attract heavy-duty trucks from both local and interstate roadways. Drivers can also conveniently refuel 24 hours a day. In 2016, MLGW began purchasing 100% renewable natural gas from Clean Energy Renewable Fuels (CERF); CERF collects, cleans, and compresses the gas that is produced by the North Shelby landfill, and MLGW brings that gas to market through their natural gas distribution system. The partnership is an acknowledgment of the growing potential of biomethane as a renewable, low-emission fuel. To date, over 10% of MLGW’s fleet is powered by alternative fuels, saving nearly 53,000 gallons of gasoline/diesel annually. Total CNG usage and diesel displacement since the opening of the stations has reached over 700,000 diesel gallon equivalents (DGE).
Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
Nashville Airport CNG Parking Shuttle Buses
In February 2017, the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) unveiled 20 new CNG shuttle buses to service parking lots at the Nashville International Airport (BNA). These 20 shuttles join eight new BNA Express Park CNG powered shuttles that were put into service in June 2016. Based on an annual estimated consumption of 300,000 gallons of diesel (338,248 gasoline gallon equivalent), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the airport’s shuttle operations will be reduced by 14%. This is a well to wheel calculation and equates to an annual reduction of 587 tons of GHG emissions. In April 2017, MNAA also opened an on-site CNG refueling station to support its CNG shuttle bus operations. MNAA plans to incrementally continue modernizing and converting its fleet annually. Information on MNAA’s CNG use will also be displayed on the airport’s “Green Screen,” an interactive kiosk inside the airport that educates customers on progress made on sustainable and green initiatives.
Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Public Works Department
46th Avenue South & Murphy Road Roundabout and Streetscape
The 46th Avenue and Murphy Road Roundabout and Streetscape project in Nashville’s Sylvan Park neighborhood is a Complete Streets project that balances multi-modal accessibility with aesthetic and quality of life improvements for area residents, visitors, and businesses. Prior to the construction of the new roundabout, the skewed 46th Avenue & Murphy Road intersection was difficult for drivers to navigate. The high-speed intersection layout, as well as the lack of safe crosswalks and adequate sidewalks, also created a very unfriendly environment for pedestrians. As a result of the 46th Avenue South & Murphy Road Roundabout and Streetscape project, the once confusing, signalized intersection has been replaced with an attractive landscaped, free-flowing roundabout that significantly improves traffic flow, calms traffic by reducing speeds, and enhances safety for cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. New and wider sidewalks, separated from traffic lanes by on-street parking and native landscaping, along with attractive public seating and lighting have created an enjoyable pedestrian experience that enhances the adjacent businesses and neighborhood. This $2 million investment of public funds has resulted in a safer, aesthetically pleasing, and more pedestrian-friendly intersection and roadway, leading to significant additional business investments in the area. The Roundabout and Streetscape now seamlessly connect the community core to surrounding residential uses and community amenities, such as the Richland Greenway, McCabe Park and Golf Course, and McCabe Park Community Center.
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Fast Fix 8 Accelerated Bridge Construction Project
The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) Fast Fix 8 Project utilized accelerated bridge construction techniques as part of a rehabilitation of four pairs of bridges in downtown Nashville. The use of these techniques minimized roadway user cost delays, reducing fuel use and emissions tied to construction-related traffic congestion. In partnership with TDOT, Irving Materials Inc., and Middle Tennessee State University’s Concrete Industry Management Program, a high-strength, ready-mix concrete was developed; only four hours after pouring this concrete, lanes can be opened to traffic. The mix design was approved for use on the project as TDOT Class X Concrete and ultimately will be available to be utilized on future accelerated bridge projects throughout the State. The project, which would have taken 2.5 years to complete under normal construction circumstances, was completed in only 10 weekend closure periods. The use of advanced construction materials developed as part of this project also saved landfill space and reduced particulate air pollution associated with traditional construction activities. Additionally, over 2,450 tons of metal and 8,000 tons of concrete were repurposed or recycled as part of this project.
The TMA Group
VanStar: A Success Story of Emissions Reductions
The TMA Group (Transportation Management Association), a 501(c)(3) located in Franklin, is a regional leader in providing strategic, innovative, environmentally sustainable, multi-modal transportation solutions for employers and communities. Since the 1990’s, TMA has operated and managed commuter vanpool fleets. Currently, under contract with Williamson County and RTA (Regional Transportation Authority), TMA operates and manages VanStar, the regional commuter vanpool program serving hundreds of commuters throughout 14 Middle Tennessee counties. VanStar participants choose an alternative to commuting alone in their personal vehicle to and from work. An average Vanstar vanpool contains 7 to 13 participants, taking 6 to 12 individual cars off of the road. There are no paid employees needed to operate a VanStar commute van; TMA provides the vehicles, the insurance, and all the maintenance and repairs, whereas monthly commute costs are shared by the riders. VanStar participants experience an annual individual savings of up to $4,000 in personal transportation costs. As a result, in 2016 alone, these participants saved an estimated $2 million in cumulative fuel, maintenance, and wear and tear on their personal vehicles. In 2015, TMA added a Comprehensive Ridematching Software System tool (TripSpark) to the vanpool program. Through the use of TripSpark, the TMA Group collects data that supports the environmental impact of VanStar to the Middle Tennessee region. Based on this data, TMA reports that from July 1, 2015 to February 28, 2017, 890 VanStar participants have avoided 14,829,341 vehicle miles traveled, 12,104,087 tons of pollution, 11,507,569 lbs. of GHG emissions, and 593,173 gallons of gasoline used. Throughout the same time period, VanStar participants have saved $3,559,041 in related, personal transportation costs.
United Parcel Service, Inc.
UPS Rolling Laboratory
The United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has been exploring alternatives to conventional petroleum fuels to power its ground fleet for a long time. The company, which has invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technologies since 2009, now operates one of the largest private alternative fuel and advanced technology fleets in the U.S. Natural gas, in the form of both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), has become the foundational fuel of UPS’ alternative fuel vehicle fleet, based on its ability to meet the demands of the heavy-duty, over-the-road trucks that connect the company’s regional hubs. In 2016, UPS opened 11 new CNG refueling stations throughout the U.S.; with these new stations, UPS now owns and operates 44 CNG and LNG stations in 21 states. In the State of Tennessee, UPS vehicles consumed over 7.5 million diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) of natural gas in 2016; over 2 million DGEs of this natural gas consumed was renewable natural gas (RNG) or biomethane, diverted from landfills. In December 2015, UPS announced that it would supply its fleets in Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi with an estimated 15 million diesel gallon gas equivalents of RNG as part of a multi-year agreement with Memphis Light, Gas and Water and Atmos Energy Marketing, LLC. The deal will help the company to meet its goal of driving one billion miles with its alternative fuel vehicle fleet, known as the Rolling Laboratory, by the end of 2017, an effort that will reduce environmental impact and help to advance new sustainability solutions and markets.
More information on the Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum can be found at http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-sustainable-transportation-awards-forum.