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Sustainable Transportation

Set of photos featuring WSDOT's sustainable practices.

At WSDOT, we seek to provide a transportation system that:

  • Supports the economy.
  • Preserves the environment.
  • Enhances equity and quality of life in our communities.

These three interconnected E’s of sustainability are the cornerstone of sustainable transportation.

We focus on WSDOT actions and practices that deliver one or more of the following sustainability benefits for the agency and the state:

Saves money - revised mowing and vegetation control methods
WSDOT’s revised our mowing and vegetation control methods and now use a more natural approach which provides sustainable benefits of less required maintenance; more assistance to pollinator habitats and more money saved . The actual annual savings are about $750,000 in labor & reduced equipment needs. We consume approximately 4,000 less gallons of fuel and emit 35 less metric tons of carbon.

Increases system efficiency - using express toll lanes to manage traffic flow
The I-405 express toll lanes use tolls to manage traffic flow. Higher tolls help traffic so the toll lanes can move as many people as possible during heavy traffic. The goal - about 45 miles per hour - is the most efficient speed for moving the most cars at a time. Express toll lanes are just one example of our efforts to increase system efficiency

Reduces energy consumption - using LED lights
The Statewide LED Roadway Lighting Conversion and Removal Project installs new, energy-efficient light-emitting-diode (LED) luminaires on state highways. In addition, some lights will be removed as a part of more efficient approach to highway lighting. The LED light provides a whiter light that improves visibility. In one year, the new light system will: reduce annual energy usage by 2.6 million kWh (kilowatt-hours), saving $217,554 in utility costs. This sustainable action reduces energy consumption .

Increases the use of alternative fuels - expanding electric vehicle network
WSDOT is launching a pilot program to strengthen and expand the West Coast Electric Highway network by deploying electric vehicle (EV) fast charging infrastructure along highway corridors in Washington State. The program will fund a network of DC fast chargers spaced 40 miles apart along I-5, I-90, and I 82/US 395/I-182. This pilot program provides funding which increases the use of alternative fuels .

Reduces greenhouse gases - working to increase EV's in our state
WSDOT's Electric Vehicle Action Plan  aims to meet the state's goal for increasing the number of EVs in Washington to 50,000 vehicles by 2020. We're trying to reduce greenhouse gases . All-electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions and produce no greenhouse gases.

Reduces waste - recycling concrete
The I-5/SR 16 Connectors Realignment project is recycling the old cement concrete pavement on-site and reincorporating it into the project. By reusing the concrete, this sustainable action reduces waste .

Distributes transportation benefits and effects equitably - lower the effects of construction on our neighbors
Dump trucks avoid driving on city and neighborhood streets to get to and from the construction site for the I-405/SR 167 project. This is a good example of how WSDOT employs a sustainable practice to equitably distribute transportation benefits and effects.

Distributes transportation benefits and effects equitably - reusing and recycling leads to improved mobility, access and safety
On State Route 508 in Morton maintenance crews reused asphalt grindings from previous paving jobs to extend a small, highly used shoulder along the highway into town. This is good example of how WSDOT employs a sustainable practice to equitably improve mobility, access and safety.

Increases system resiliency - web-based tools with our partners
WSDOT's Community Planning Portal  is a tool that provides a wide range of transportation and environmental data for local planners and the public. The portal shows where identified climate change threats are on the state transportation network, according to WSDOT’s 2011 statewide climate vulnerability assessment. The WSDOT Community Planning Portal is a sustainable tool, which can help increase system resiliency

More than one sustainability benefit - Amtrak Cascades' new locomotives
WSDOT’s 2017 addition of the Siemens Charger locomotives to the Amtrak Cascades  fleet supports our commitment to cleaner, more sustainable transportation in the state. These locomotives are state-of-the-art and reduce emissions by an estimated 90 percent.  They are the first engines ever manufactured to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's strictest Tier IV emission standards .

WSDOT's new locomotives are equipped with electronically controlled braking systems that use energy from the traction motors during braking to minimize fuel consumption. They reduce energy consumption and are 16 percent more fuel efficient compared to the other locomotives they replaced. These engines increase system efficiency by allowing for faster acceleration, they are more reliable and require less maintenance and upkeep. 

The Amtrak Cascades service is jointly managed and funded by WSDOT and ODOT. The states contract with Amtrak to operate the service on their behalf.

The WSDOT value of sustainability is in everything we do:

  • A sustainable transportation system meets the present needs without compromising the needs of the future.  It is an equitable, safe, integrated and multimodal transportation system.
  • This approach is designed to create an agency culture of sustainability with widespread ownership and commitment.

For more information:

Seth Stark
360-628-7611