The Green Highways Partnership is a revolutionary approach to achieving sustainable transportation infrastructure and improved environmental compliance, protection, and preservation. The approach provides for predictable pathways to streamline the delivery of transportation projects through incentives and recognition including, innovative market based solutions... a unique “silo-smashing” initiative. The Green Highways Partnership (GHP) is a voluntary, public/private network focusing on effective, green transportation partnering, innovation and collaboration. The GHP is shaping the development of transportation infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic.
GHP Steering Committee - Champions overall effort, provides direction and support; Consists of key assignees of the partner organizations; and Identifies and resolves resource and sustainability issues
Is the phrase "Green Highways" an oxymoron?
What makes a highway "green?"
A green highway integrates transportation functionality and ecological sustainability. Green highways are:
A green highway can differ from project to project, and location to location and can include any combination of the following:
Planning and Preliminary Design
Integrated Planning is key to the ultimate development of a “Green” Highway. Combining the principles in the FHWA’s "Linking Planning" and NEPA with the ecological and natural landscape process in green infrastructure planning, GHP espouses the integration of the local priorites for watershed and natural resource protection, land use and transportation. GHP suggest the use of a charrette process to align planning goals and priorities. Charrettes bring in a diverse collection of participants to assure a full discussion of issues, interrelationships, and impacts. Its time limits challenge people to rapidly, openly, and honestly examine the problem and help potential adversaries reach consensus on an appropriate solution. For more information on the charrette process, visit the Federal Highway Administration website.
Preliminary Design typically involves the formal “environmental review process” for the development of highway projects. If an integrated planning process has involved the regulatory, resource and other environmental agencies, the process results should be the first step in the coordination process. GHP suggests that the preliminary design, environmental review process be a collaborative coordinated approach with all agencies (environmental, community, socio-economic, cultural, historic, transportation, etc) participating as equal partners invested in the outcome of the process. An integrated process such as the Mid-Atlantic Transportation and Environmental Streamlining Process is an examples of successful collaborative process. The result of the preliminary Design step should be a project which meets the transportation needs of the locality and addresses the regulatory requirements of the agencies involved. A Green Highway is one that meets the regulatory requirements but goes beyond those requirements to make the environment better than before.
Final Design and Construction
Meticulous integrated planning manifests itself in the second stage of the process, the final design and construction of the highway. Final Design Plans lay out the ways to address transportation and regulatory requirements discussed in the preliminary design phase. This is the stage where Industrial by-products and recycled materials can be incorporated into the project. Construction processes can be used that minimized disturbance of lands not needed for the highway cross-section and balance the cut and fill to avoid the use of virgin materials. The result is a highway that will benefit transportation, the ecosystem, urban growth, and surrounding communities.
Operations and Maintenance
The range of activities and services provided by the transportation system and the upkeep and preservation of the existing system operations includes, the range of activities/services provided by the transportation system. Maintenance relates to the upkeep and preservation of the existing system. GHP activities in the operations and management stage is a constant effort to optimize traffic flow, implement stormwater BMP's, maximize recycling, and reduce overall environmental impact. Monitoring and evaluation systems ensure that issues, threats, and opportunities can be dealt with appropriately.
The GHP is a unique “partnership” which provides more effective mechanisms for delivery of innovative “tools” addressing the delivery of transportation projects in a holistic, integrated fashion. Its public/private make-up enables balanced approaches to the delivery of these different practices for more sustainable results. As illustrated below, Green Highways creates synergic opportunities to unite a number of existing initiatives under a single comprehensive approach. A sampling of these efforts include: Green Infrastructure; Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS); Linking Planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative; Eco-logical and the Mid Atlantic Transportation & Environmental Streamlining Process Framework.
Steps to Building a Green Highway-
A charrette is a planning session that brings in all of the stakeholders on a particular project. The session focuses on the task at hand and challenges the participants to rapidly, openly, and honestly examine the problem and help potential adversaries reach consensus on an appropriate solution. Charrettes are often used as a valuable part of the GHP planning process. For more information on charrettes, visit the Federal Highway Administration website.
An objective of the green highways partnership is to identify, promote and recognize “leading edge” pilot projects which demonstrate GHP goals to increase the visibility of creative solutions and inspire others to pursue green choices. Pilot projects strengthen partnerships, stimulate creative research, showcase effective solutions, and encourage market-based initiative while demonstrating green highway characteristics.