The Environmental Impact of Transportation
Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Transportation is projected to account for 47% of the state greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory in 2020 – and that’s not all coming from semi-trucks and trailers. Light duty vehicles like those we drive everyday (cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, and vans) are estimated to make up half of those emissions, according to one source at the Department of Ecology. Supportive transportation policies are in place to reduce emissions through an emphasis on transportation demand management, and more recently, the use of clean fuels and hybrid vehicles.
Environmental impacts associated with transportation are particularly acute as related to GHG production, and water pollution (hydrocarbons and heavy metal deposits in surface water and receiving waters). Awareness of this problem has already led to efforts across the state to minimize and reduce impacts. For example, vegetation management practices along highways to reduce herbicide use, structural features such as infiltration ponds and wide grass swales, and regular maintenance to clear highways of sand, litter and debris all help to control and manage the harmful effects of stormwater runoff.
WTP 2030 includes the following proposed strategies to help mitigate environmental impacts:
- Improve integration of transportation and land use planning with the goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled and GHG
- Couple land use policy, siting decisions, demand management and transportation needs to leverage the value of existing infrastructure investments and future transportation investments
- Support efforts for efficient and effective environmental permitting processes while still protecting the environment
- Reduce stormwater impacts on Puget Sound and other state waterways consistent with the Clean Water Act
- Develop strategies responding to both mitigation and adaptation consistent with the Governor’s Climate Action Team findings
What’s missing? What is being done in your community to help reduce environmental impacts related to transportation? What are you personally doing? What more should be done?
In addition to leaving comments on this blog, we encourage you to use the online public input tool to tell us about the transportation issues and priorities that are important to you.
You can also read the WTP plan and related documents online.