The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, announced today the winners of the department’s 2016 Sustainable Transportation Awards.
“Sustainable transportation is essential for public health and the environment, and we’re encouraged by the efforts of communities and industry across the state to make it a priority in transportation planning,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “By recognizing thought leaders in this field, we hope to inspire replication of innovative projects, activities, and initiatives across the state.”
The Sustainable Transportation Awards recognize outstanding initiatives in Tennessee to reduce transportation-related energy and emissions, in line with an overarching effort to save natural resources, improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, and create efficiencies in the delivery of goods and services. A panel of judges selected the following entities as the 2016 winners of the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards. A full description of the winners and projects follow.
* Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
* City of Athens
* Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
* Great Smoky Mountains National Park
* JNJ Express Inc.
* Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority
* RPM Transportation Consultants and Metropolitan Government of Nashville Department of Public Works
* Sharp Transport, Inc.
* Tennessee Department of Transportation, Structures Division and Environmental and Planning Bureau
* Vanderbilt University
Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
Bike Chattanooga Public Bicycle Transit System
The Bike Chattanooga 33-station, 300-bicycle transit system enables users to conveniently access downtown Chattanooga and is the first large-scale bike share program in a mid-sized city,
enhancing mobility and accessibility for the community. The system footprint makes trips possible in the central business district, the North Shore and Southside neighborhoods, the
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the Tennessee Riverpark. Web and mobile applications provide real-time information and make it easy for users to determine the availability of nearby stations, bicycles, docking points, and local points of interest. The bike share program contributes to reduced traffic congestion, reduced use of fossil fuels, and reduced pressure on downtown parking. In 2015, Bike Chattanooga members completed over 163,000 trips traveling over 500,000 miles and burning more than 20 million calories. In addition to the
health and mobility benefits, the potential exists for a decrease in over 300,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions.
City of Athens
Green Ways Initiative
Athens began their Green Ways Initiative in 2013, developed to provide environmentally friendly methods of advancing commuting infrastructure. Since the start of the program, Athens has increased the total city sidewalk and walkway length by two percent annually. Several of the walkways are surfaced with pervious pavers, beneath which there are detention ponds. In addition to walkway expansion, the city has added nine miles of new multi-use trail over the last three years, taking their total trail mileage to 14 miles. Trails are open to walkers, horseback riders, and bikers. Athens is in the process of developing a mobile-friendly trail map program to increase trail system accessibility and provide mileage information. Additionally, Athens repairs their roads with a method that is more environmentally friendly than traditional methods – the Liquid Road paving method is calculated to save over 97,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide for every four-lane mile treated. The city treated eight miles of road last year.
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
Cleaner & More Sustainable School Bus Fleet
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System is developing a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly fleet. Espar heaters with 15-minute timers have been installed in 34 of the county’s
school buses. These timers warm both the engine and bus interior but prevent the bus from sitting and idling for large amounts of time while warming. This heater retrofit is estimated to
save 1,000 gallons of diesel each winter. The school system has also recently implemented use of idle management systems in 250 of their buses. The system shuts the bus off after 15 minutes, preventing unnecessary idling and saving approximately 7,500 gallons of diesel each winter. Lastly, the school system has purchased and put into service one propane school bus and has plans to buy more. The propane bus is quieter and reduces the typical carbon dioxide and fine dust emissions of a diesel bus, which, in turn, reduces children’s daily exposure to air pollution.
Additionally, the propane bus requires less maintenance, decreasing long-term operating cost. The combination of the heater installation, idle management system, and propane bus has
resulted in an approximately 11,000 gallon decrease in annual diesel use.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Alternative Fuel and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
Making park transportation more environmentally friendly is a key tenet of the National Park Services’ 2012 Green Parks Plan, which commits the National Park Service to reducing its
carbon footprint by 10 percent by its Centennial in 2016. As part of this goal, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has installed two public DC Fast Chargers and two Level II electric
vehicle charging stations at their two visitors’ centers. They are also integrating alternative fuel vehicles into their fleet with the purchase of six new propane trucks, a hybrid Ford Fusion, and the installation of propane fueling stations in two maintenance areas. Signage displaying the message “Be Our Idol, Don’t Idle” has also been installed in visitor parking areas throughout the park to help spread the message to the public.
JNJ Express Inc.
JNJ Express Inc., a truckload carrier based out of Memphis, recently purchased over 300 new trucks equipped with diesel particulate filters that enhance clean fuel burn, drastically reducing emissions. They also purchased an additional 150 trailers that are equipped with the latest aerodynamic technology including side skirts. All of the new trucks and trailers have wide-based tires that are 12 percent more fuel efficient than the previous type of tire used. Trucks are equipped with electric, battery-powered auxiliary power units that enable drivers to be 90 percent
idle-free. JNJ reduces drag on trucks by trimming the mud guards to exclusively cover the tread portion of the tires and installing wheel covers to facilitate smooth air flow. Eight hundred of
their trailers are equipped with trailer tails, which in conjunction with side skirts increase fuel efficiency up to 10 percent. Lastly, JNJ provides extensive driver training that makes drivers up
to 30 percent more fuel efficient through learned techniques such as progressive shifting and momentum gaining shifting procedures.
Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority
Music City Circuit Electric Buses
Metropolitan Transit Authority in Nashville has a history of providing environmentally-friendly transit options. This past year, they expanded their fleet to include nine Proterra Inc. electric buses. These buses run virtually silent and emit zero tailpipe emissions. The buses are used for the cost-free Music City Circuit, which runs from the Nashville Farmers’ Market through the busy business, tourism, and arts district of downtown, all the way into the Gulch area. The buses are quick-charging at just 10 minutes for a full charge. Because they have 30 percent fewer parts than a diesel vehicle and require fewer repairs, lifetime maintenance costs are expected to decrease by about $135,000. In 2015, the Music City Circuit’s electric buses provided more than 300,000 rides for residents and visitors in downtown Nashville, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 56,000 pounds and resulting in a decreased diesel usage of 34,000 gallons.
RPM Transportation Consultants and Metropolitan Government of Nashville Department of Public Works
11th Avenue Complete Street Project
RPM Transportation Consultants and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville Department of Public Works’ 11th Avenue complete street project took a 100-year-old industrial corridor and
created a multi-use, attractive main street through the Gulch neighborhood. The aging roadway had limited sidewalk availability, lacked bicycle infrastructure, and didn’t adequately accommodate transit service. Project elements addressed deficiencies with the addition of a multi-use path with separate bike paths and wide sidewalks, 800 linear feet of greenway and urban mini-park, hundreds of new trees and shrubs, a signalized pedestrian crossing, roadside bioretention zones, and bike racks. The new corridor blends aspects of the neighborhood’s industrial uses and warehouses with the trendy, modern design of new developments in the neighborhood. To celebrate the completion of Nashville’s newest complete street, former Mayor Karl Dean hosted the community’s first Open Streets Festival in June 2015. Over 2,000 people participated in the festival and took advantage of all that the newly developed street has to offer.
Sharp Transport, Inc.
Sharp Transport, Inc. for-hire freight carrier has increased their overall trailer fleet efficiency by 11 percent over the last four years. Sharp has updated nearly 100 tractors with selective catalytic reduction technology engines; implemented low rolling resistance tires over the entire tractor fleet and over 300 trailers; purchased new, lighter weight trailers equipped with side skirt aerodynamic devices to reduce wind drag; and installed automatic tire inflation devices on all trailers. In April 2013, Sharp implemented onboard recording systems that monitor every aspect of fuel economy and calculate idle time, use of cruise control, RPM management, and speed control. These data are used to provide financial incentives to drivers for achieving fuel economy milestones. Sharp also equipped a number of trailers with trailer tail aerodynamic devices, resulting in an improvement of average efficiency by three to five percent. Recently, Sharp Transport, Inc. became the first carrier in the United States to be awarded the EPA’s Smartway Elite certification, recognizing their overall trailer fleet efficiency.
Tennessee Department of Transportation, Structures Division and Environmental and Planning Bureau
Kyles Ford Bridge Replacement Project
The Edward R. Talley Bridge on State Route 70 over the Clinch River was built in 1928 and by 2014 had become structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The recent bridge replacement
had to be carefully planned and executed. First, the bridge spans an environmentally protected part of the river. The shoal area near the bridge crossing is a mussel sanctuary with 20 federally listed species of mussels and two federally listed fish species. To avoid adverse impacts to the river habitat, the bridge needed to be replaced without touching the water. Second, the bridge is located in Hancock County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and many residents used this bridge to commute to other towns for work. Had the Talley Bridge been closed for repairs, excessive detour times to the other river crossing and the associated increase in fuel costs would have made it impossible for some workers to continue their jobs in other
towns. Through coordination with various resource agencies and careful planning, the Department of Transportation was able to replace the bridge without any damage to the natural
environment while providing a convenient and reliable crossing of the Clinch River.
Alternative Transportation Program
Vanderbilt University offers many alternative transportation options to its 36,781 students, staff, and faculty, including bus, rail, biking, carpooling, and shuttles. Vanderbilt makes taking the bus easy by fully subsidizing the commuting cost for all employees and graduate, professional, and medical students. They also pay for 60 percent of the cost to ride the Music City Star commuter
train. The university provides carpool opportunities through a ride match system available to anyone with a Vanderbilt email address. The university also coordinates an on-campus shuttle
service, as well as several off-campus shuttles that provide transportation to supermarkets, shopping centers, and the airport, all at no-to-low cost to students. Additionally, Vanderbilt has a
robust bike infrastructure with abundant bike racks around the campus, semester and year-long bike rentals, and online maps showing the location of all bike racks and bike resources around
campus. The impact of the Vanderbilt Alternative Transportation Program saves 9,219 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually, which is equal to removing almost 2,000 passenger
vehicles off the road for one year.