Make every month, Earth Month: Texans love green

We take green seriously at the Mobility Authority. So as we exit Earth Day and wind down Earth Month, I believe it’s important to highlight some green measures, actions and solutions that endure beyond the Earth Day and Month campaigns. Central Texas commuters are familiar with many of them: multi-modal transportation, reduced emissions by keeping traffic moving with express lanes and toll roads, pedestrian bridges and walkways, and enhanced landscaping to save water and reduce erosion.

We’re not alone in our green efforts; our sister agencies around the state – and globally – are discovering how sustainability in transportation projects makes sense for not just their present-day communities, but for an ecologically smart future.

Do you know when you’re driving on a green road?

In our most recent Expressway News, we wrote about how 183 South, when complete, will be the longest Greenroad® in the U.S. The project delivers major investments in the historically underserved east Austin area to include multimodal transportation options, and restoration of the nationally recognized historic Montopolis Bridge, providing bicycle and pedestrian travel over the Colorado River. It’s not a “greenroad” simply because we’re calling it that; as one of the few transportation planning agencies in Texas to implement the Greenroads® third-party rating system, we are aiming for certification that assigns objective, measurable environmental standards, based on carefully defined criteria, to gauge environmental responsibility.

Bluebonnets on greenroads project | Mike Heiligenstein BlogGreenroads International, Inc. is an independent non-profit that offers a third-party, point-based sustainability rating system used to certify sustainability performance on transportation projects. There are now over 110 Greenroads® projects around the world valued at over $18 billion. Projects must satisfy the mandatory project requirements, and then choose from 45 voluntary credits in five core categories: Environment and Water; Construction Activities; Materials and Design; Utilities and Controls, Access and Livability; and, Creativity and Effort.

Many of these efforts you can see, such as drought-resistant vegetation. Perhaps you notice controlled dust control, or night-time construction lighting. But other, less visible efforts still have a significant impact, such as work-zone safety, and using recycled materials – even crushed porcelain toilets – in the roadway construction. Allowing your voice to be heard during road construction also counts as a Greenroad® element.

It’s a good reminder that much of what “green” means in transportation is invisible – so even if you can’t see it, know that we are committed to designing and building in ways that reduce the environmental impact and improve your experience, all with an eye toward long-term sustainability.

From a green community to a greener world

It’s our responsibility as a transportation planning agency to consider our corner of the globe. Part of that is recognizing not just our impact on this particular corner, but on the world. That is as much about providing models of sustainable innovations that others can then follow, as it does with Central Texas air, or water, or recycled materials. And Central Texas agencies and organizations are increasingly committing to “all things green” that impact their immediate neighborhoods, while working on a global scale to share ideas, learn from others and present models of excellence.

We spoke to this a little in our most recent newsletter (you can find archived newsletters here) with an update on the Mobility Authority’s partnership with Capital Metro that allows Express Bus riders to utilize the MoPac Express Lane at no additional cost. As we explore ways to build infrastructure that will accommodate the future, we look to agencies like Austin Energy on how that infrastructure can realistically encourage sustainable or carbon-neutral transportation. We work with the city on measuring emissions, and what our habits mean for the future of transportation – and our environment. We’re fortunate that the City of Austin is a C40 city, one of just 15 such cities in North America that participate in sharing climate and environmental solutions – both within and outside of transportation — with other participants around the globe.

The recently released Zandan poll reinforced Austinites’ concerns about transportation and traffic – that’s nothing new. But we don’t need a poll to know that easing those concerns can’t be done without proper homage to our planet’s health and future. That’s important to you, too.

We live and work here with you. We’re proud to call this corner of our planet home. That is why, at the Mobility Authority, we take Earth Month very seriously – 12 months of the year.

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