By: Joshua Rahn
Summary. As a part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan there has been an increased focus on how to combat climate change and more specifically what kind of infrastructure should be built to better combat climate change. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is an important person within this overall conversation because of the large role of transportation vehicles in emitting greenhouse gases. The department of transportation is awarding transportation grants to a number of projects across the country that aim to reduce problems related to racial equity, climate change, economic growth, and safety. Some of the standout programs affecting climate change are the development of ports located within Iowa and Georgia. These ports will aid in transportation of products by increasing the amount of freight travel, and freight to rail travel. This decrease in vehicle miles travelled limits greenhouse gas production and creates other more project specific beneficial outcomes. Many of these projects also aim to reduce the impact of climate change on American infrastructure. An example of this is the I-35 red river project, which includes an increase to the height of a section of the I-35 highway which was built over the red river (that runs through Gainesville, Texas) to prevent damage that could occur due to rising water levels. There has been 905 million dollars allotted to these intranational projects in order to improve infrastructure. Among these projects are some that are focused less on climate change and more on public safety and health. For example, one proposed project would see the implementation of protected bike lanes, pedestrian signals, improved curb ramps, and new shade trees in Los Angeles, California to increase the safety of pedestrians and to increase the aesthetic value of the area. Many of these projects cannot be funded solely by the money given to them by these grants and will take a considerable amount of time before they are implemented.
Why we should care? The current development of climate-friendly infrastructure will have a profound impact on the severity of climate change and the United States' ability to respond to it in the future.
This article gives a great summary of the specifics of the grants and what they aim to achieve. This article also goes over some of the proposed projects to demonstrate the specifics of the grant’s goals. I thought the explanation of the seattle project was short, concise, and useful in giving an example of how public safety is worsened by climate change and why these infrastructure grants are important. The article also goes more into detail about the shortcomings of the previous presidential administration especially when it comes to infrastructure that puts the lives of POC in harm's way. The article also spoke on how much of the money awarded is going to rural or urban areas.
Science in Action.
Dr. Kristina Dahl is a Senior Climate Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Dr. Dahl works for the union of concerned scientists to research the ways that climate change and other environmental concerns impact infrastructure and also to communicate these threats to law makers and the public. Her research specifically into the impact of rising sea level on coastal road and railway systems during high-tide is very important in demonstrating the haste with which infrastructure needs to be updated. Kristina Dahl’s work also calls for the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to reduce the cost of damaged infrastructure, both monetarily and the harm that will occur due to increased degradation arising from climate change. Her work is very relevant to the infrastructure improving grants organized by secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg. These grants aim to reduce the effects she observed during her research and to address one source of greenhouse gases associated with transportation.