Join ADOT at a free Environmental Resources Roadshow in Prescott

Join ADOT at a free Environmental Resources Roadshow in Prescott

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Join ADOT at a free Environmental Resources Roadshow in Prescott

Join ADOT at a free Environmental Resources Roadshow in Prescott

September 28, 2015

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation joins the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Keep Arizona Beautiful to conduct an Environmental Resources Roadshow in Yavapai County on  Oct. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Prescott Police Department Training Room, 222 S. Marina Street in Prescott.

Community members, business people, public officials and school representatives in Prescott and the surrounding area are invited to attend this two-hour event. Following brief presentations, attendees can engage in open dialogue in a question-and-answer session.


  • ADOT: volunteer process for adopting sections of Arizona highways for litter cleanup
  • ADEQ: how communities can benefit from ADEQ’s technical expertise and Brownfields grants
  • ADEQ: successful municipal recycling programs, such as electronic waste and food recovery
  • KAZB: statewide litter prevention, recycling and beautification programs

More than 620 ADOT Adopt a Highway volunteer groups pick up litter along 744 miles of highway in northern Arizona. These groups are just a small sample of the hundreds of thousands of groups who participate in the nationally and internationally recognized Adopt a Highway volunteer litter prevention program.

Over the years, the ADOT Adopt a Highway volunteer program has provided a multimillion-dollar labor value to Arizona taxpayers and helps keep our highways clean.


ADOT’s Adopt a Highway volunteer program began in 1988 in Globe, Arizona. Today there are volunteers in every county of the Grand Canyon State, especially in rural Arizona, where volunteer litter pickup provides big savings in maintenance costs.

For detailed information about the ADOT Adopt a Highway volunteer program, please visit:

News Media:  
Arizona Department of Transportation Office of Public Information
[email protected]

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality  
Caroline Oppleman, Public Information Officer
[email protected]

Arizona Department of Transportation
Adopt a Highway Volunteer Program 

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality  
J.B. Shaw, Recycling Coordinator
[email protected]

Jennie Curé, Brownfields Coordinator
[email protected]

Keep Arizona Beautiful
Jill Bernstein, Executive Director
[email protected]

ADOT nationally recognized for environmental leadership

ADOT nationally recognized for environmental leadership

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT nationally recognized for environmental leadership

ADOT nationally recognized for environmental leadership

September 24, 2015

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation, which has been nationally recognized for its creative and innovative solutions to promote safe travel while protecting wildlife and connecting ecosystems, received another accolade for its leadership in developing wildlife crossing structures in Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration recently awarded ADOT and its partner Animal Road Crossing Solutions this year’s Environmental Excellence Award for Excellence in Environmental Leadership.

Arizona has long been considered a leader in wildlife connectivity issues. ADOT and multiple partner agencies, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, collaborated to construct wildlife underpasses and elk crossings along State Route 260 east of Payson and desert bighorn sheep overpasses near historic Hoover Dam on US 93.

“ADOT has a long record of innovative and successful wildlife accommodations as part of construction projects,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “While ADOT is not a wildlife-management agency, we are a transportation safety agency and we partner with other agencies, such as the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in an effort to preserve and protect wildlife, while reducing vehicle-wildlife collisions.”

According to data collected by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, more than 15,000 crossings by 16 species of animals were recorded at six underpasses along SR 260 in Arizona over a seven-year period. In addition, more than 4,300 desert bighorn sheep crossed three overpasses on US 93 in Arizona in a two-year span.

In addition to preserving wildlife, these specialized crossings protect drivers from crashes with some of the state’s big game.

A fencing project linking three existing crossing structures on SR 260 reduced elk-vehicle collisions by 98 percent over a six-year span.

Wildlife crossing structures and fencing can greatly lessen the impact of traffic because, together, they provide safe linkages across highways, helping ensure stable local and regional wildlife populations.

Selected by an independent panel, the Environmental Excellence Award is the Federal Highway Administration’s biennial recognition of innovative efforts to preserve the environment while enhancing America’s highways.

“Building a 21st-century transportation system that is cost-efficient and protects the environment requires creativity and innovation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These awards demonstrate FHWA’s support of projects that approach current and future transportation challenges with new solutions.”

Additional information about the 2015 Environmental Excellence Award recipients can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_excellence_awards/.

ADOT's environmental stewardship during migratory bird season

ADOT's environmental stewardship during migratory bird season


ADOT's environmental stewardship during migratory bird season

ADOT's environmental stewardship during migratory bird season

May 14, 2015

We’ve blogged about a lot of those steps, including the planning, the multiple surveys, the focus on cultural preservation and the environmental clearances that must be met prior to the start of construction.

But what about after a project is finished?

Good question! It turns out there’s also an extensive effort to reduce effects on the surrounding environment as ADOT maintains its roads and structures.

Environmental coordinators are assigned to each district and, as you can see in the video, they assist maintenance and construction crews in complying with laws concerning clean water, clean air, endangered species, migratory birds and more.

While today’s video focuses on ADOT’s environmental stewardship during migratory bird season, Phoenix District Environmental Coordinator Lisa Andersen says that her job has a lot of variety.

On a given day she might be conducting a storm water inspection on a maintenance construction project or communicating with the U.S. Forest Service about vegetation. Reviewing environmental clearances and storm water encroachment permits, inspecting ADOT maintenance yards and checking ADOT washes for mosquitoes are all tasks that are part of the job.

Andersen says the primary goal is the safety of the traveling public and staff, “but we want to do our activities so that we’re really taking care of the resources when and where we can.”

For more on ADOT’s environmentally conscious practices, check out some of our previous posts.

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!


Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2015

This Earth Day, take in the scenery and enjoy the view.

Happy Earth Day, everybody!

We thought today would be a perfect time to take a look back at some of the blog posts and videos that have highlighted ADOT’s commitment to environmentally conscious practices.

But before we get to that, let us quickly share some related, late-breaking news.

The Federal Highway Administration just announced its environmental excellence award recipients for 2015 and ADOT made the list for the Animal Road Crossing Solutions category!

After you get all the award details over on the FHWA website, we hope you’ll enjoy your Earth Day by taking a moment to click through some of these previous ADOT Blog posts...

  • Did you know that roughly 1,500 tires are re-used for every lane-mile of rubberized paving? This video and blog post explain how rubberized asphalt is made and how it’s used by ADOT.
  • Just last year, we blogged about ADOT’s efforts to initiate a recycling program at rest areas around the state.
  • ADOT uses a variety of methods to prevent animals from getting into the roadway. Check out this blog post from 2014 to learn more about those methods and watch this video to see the installation of a wildlife underpass.
  • This video from a year ago features an innovation from ADOT’s Equipment Services that not only reduces ADOT’s footprint on the environment, but also saves money and time.
  • You might remember this blog post from September 2011. It details the US 93 wildlife crossing and the environmental award the project won that year. And, here’s another post about another award for US 93!
  • This post shines a light the Gonzales Pass project west of Superior.
  • ADOT equipment shops operate under the Green Shop Program, which is designed to improve customer satisfaction and assist the shops in becoming more “green.” This blog post explains the program in more detail.
  • ADOT sometimes has to put work on hold in order to avoid disrupting nearby wildlife. These posts detail a project located in a national riparian conservation area that went on hiatus to avoid the migratory bird nesting season.
  • This video and blog post from 2013 focus on the relationship between transportation planning and the environment. The post also explains how ADOT, along with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, hosted the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation.
  • Environmental surveys are a part of many projects. This video and post explain the surveys conducted on US 89 for the Clean Water Act.
  • Environmental clearances are needed before many projects can begin. Learn more in this post from last year.
  • Lead paint is something that could harm the environment, which is why ADOT takes such great care in removing it from old bridges and structures. See the process in this video and post.

New pavement oil application devices help protect environment, save tax dollars

New pavement oil application devices help protect environment, save tax dollars

I-17 101 traffic interchange

New pavement oil application devices help protect environment, save tax dollars

New pavement oil application devices help protect environment, save tax dollars

April 22, 2014

PHOENIX – New devices on trucks used by the Arizona Department of Transportation to apply oil on highway pavement to extend the lifespan of the road surface are reducing taxpayer costs, saving time and helping the environment.

The use of the new oil-spray guards help with the distribution of oil by giving greater control in applying the oil during pavement preservation projects along Arizona’s highways. This allows crews to use less oil by limiting overspray onto the ground and landscaping next to the highway, protecting the environment.

“We’re very happy with the results,” said ADOT Equipment Services Administrator Devin Darlek. “We’re seeing savings in time and money while protecting landscaping with the use of spray guards. It’s a good example of ADOT’s efforts to be good stewards of both the environment and taxpayer dollars.”

A team of ADOT employees from different areas within the agency came together to develop the spray-guard device. The team had not come across anything used elsewhere in the country to address the problem of over-spraying oil during pavement projects. The ADOT spray guard has become a successful innovation.

Other benefits of the spray guard include a reduction in the amount of time needed to clean the trucks after use on a highway project. What used to take two employees between four and eight hours to accomplish now takes one employee about an hour.

Along with the spray guard, the team also designed and built catch basins as a better way to contain and dispose of the oil washed off the trucks. The oil residue is washed off the truck into the catch basin where it is then pumped into 55-gallon drums for proper disposal.


“I am really proud of our team,” said Darlek. “They worked hard and were able to develop simple solutions that help to produce a lot of savings for the department and taxpayers. This is a win-win-win for ADOT, taxpayers and the environment.”

The catch basins can be deployed at ADOT maintenance yards across the state which allow for more places to wash the oil trucks after use. The basins cost a fraction of the more industrial oil-water separators that are located at some of the district offices around the state.

The savings produced as a result of the spray guard and the catch basin can help direct taxpayer money to other areas of need within the agency, allowing those dollars to go further toward a well-maintained highway system.

Levels of environmental clearance

Levels of environmental clearance


Levels of environmental clearance

Levels of environmental clearance

January 23, 2014

When it comes to building a road or a bridge or a really tall interchange, there’s a lot of planning that has to happen before construction can even begin…

And when it comes to stating the obvious, we’ve really done it in that last sentence.

Because, of course constructing roads, bridges and interchanges takes plenty of planning. However, a project’s planning phase can include many components – some might not be so familiar.

Take the environmental clearance process for example.

* Recognize the video above? We showed it to you back in September when we blogged about US 89. Because it relates to NEPA, we thought we'd include it in this blog post too. Determining whether a 404 permit will be required is just one example of what may be evaluated during the NEPA process. The permit process may be part of an environmental impact statement, an environmental assessment or a categorical exclusion.

This is a big step that has to be cleared before construction can begin. It’s part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which was passed in 1969 in an effort to make sure all levels of government take the environment into consideration when developing projects that include federal involvement.

There’s a lot to say on this subject, but for today, we’re just going to stick to writing about three types of documents that help agencies (including ADOT) determine how to comply with NEPA.

Environmental Impact Statement
We’ve blogged about Environmental Impact Statements before in 2011. Back then, we explained that projects likely to have a significant impact on the surrounding environment are subject by NEPA to the Environmental Impact Statement process.

Basically, it includes a vast look at potential impacts a project could have on its surroundings. Several things are taken into consideration, including archaeological/historic sites, vegetation, wildlife, air and water quality, social conditions, economics and floodplains.

Here’s a good description, straight from the Federal Highway Administration website: “An EIS is a full disclosure document that details the process through which a transportation project was developed, includes consideration of a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential impacts resulting from the alternatives and demonstrates compliance with other applicable environmental laws and executive orders.”

The EIS process has several steps, including Notice of Intent, draft EIS, final EIS and record of decision (ROD).

"The ROD identifies the selected alternative, presents the basis for the decision, identifies all the alternatives considered, specifies the ‘environmentally preferable alternative,’ and provides information on the adopted means to avoid, minimize and compensate for environmental impacts,” according to the FHWA website.

Environmental Assessment
An environmental assessment is prepared when it is uncertain whether a project will cause a significant impact to its surroundings.

According to FHWA, this is a public document that sums up whether or not the more detailed EIS process is required.

If it’s determined the project in question will make no significant impact on the surrounding area, a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) will be issued.

If, during the environmental assessment, it’s determined the project will have a significant impact, then an EIS must be prepared.

Categorical Exclusion
This one may be the easiest to explain, because it is the document prepared when a project does not involve significant environmental impacts.

These are projects that do not:

  • induce a significant impact to planned growth or land use for the area
  • require the relocation of significant numbers of people
  • have a significant impact on any natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resource
  • involve significant air, noise, or water quality impacts
  • >have significant impacts on travel patterns
  • and otherwise, either individually or cumulatively, have significant environmental impacts

Before we wrap up, we have to be sure to mention that each step along the way includes different levels of public participation. These may include hearings and public comment periods. You can read more about ADOT, public involvement and NEPA by reading through our previous blog posts.

ADOT equipment shops recognized for reducing environmental impact

ADOT equipment shops recognized for reducing environmental impact

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT equipment shops recognized for reducing environmental impact

ADOT equipment shops recognized for reducing environmental impact

August 28, 2013

PHOENIX – What started out as a reward program to help minimize waste and reduce impacts to the environment has grown into a standard of doing business at the Arizona Department of Transportation’s equipment service shops around the state. Through ADOT’s Green Shop program, two equipment service shops are awarded each year for going above and beyond in their environmentally friendly practices.

The equipment shop in Kingman and the satellite shop in Payson are the two winners of this year’s Green Shop Award for their dedication to providing excellent customer service while keeping the shop practices environmentally sound.

The Green Shop program was developed in 2006. As part of the program, a specialized environmental team within the Equipment Services work group developed the Equipment Services Best Management Practices Manual to give shops a guide on reducing pollution and improving operations within the shops in an environmentally sensitive manner. Practices include properly containing fluids to prevent seepage into the ground and recycling as many items as possible to reduce waste.

“I am very proud of the work our equipment shops have done to reduce environmental impact,” Equipment Services Administrator Devin Darlek said. “Because all of our shops are already in environmental compliance, our Green Shop program winners really had to go above and beyond to win the award.”

Green Shop Award winners are chosen through surprise visits to the shop where they are graded on their compliance with the Best Management Practices Manual and for implementing environmental methods that go beyond standard practices. Two winners are chosen each year – one full service shop and one satellite shop.

ADOT Equipment Services provides vehicle maintenance, repair and fueling services to more than 40 government agencies in Arizona ranging from state agencies like the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona Game and Fish Department, to local police departments and school districts. Vehicles serviced range from light vehicles to heavy off-road equipment, and maintenance services include diagnostic and repair of a vehicle to a complete rebuild or refurbishment.

ADOT, Game and Fish host major environmental conference

ADOT, Game and Fish host major environmental conference


ADOT, Game and Fish host major environmental conference

ADOT, Game and Fish host major environmental conference

June 25, 2013

Transportation planners and engineers have a lot to consider when designing or improving a roadway in Arizona.

It’s not just about getting people from one place to the next – safety, planning priorities, community concerns, fiscal constraints all get taken into account (along with so many other factors).

There’s also a big relationship between transportation planning and the environment. In fact, that connection is so important that it’s the focus of a pretty big conference being held in Arizona this week…

The International Conference on Ecology and Transportation focuses on that correlation while showcasing research and best practices from the field. Held every two years, ICOET brings the participation of hundreds of transportation and ecology professionals from the U.S. and countries worldwide.

ADOT's booth at this year's ICOET conference showcases recent efforts.

You might remember that we blogged about the conference nearly two years ago when it was first announced ADOT, along with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, would host this year’s event.

Hosting the conference gives our state some really good exposure and the chance to show how ADOT and its partners not only build and maintain Arizona’s transportation system, but do so in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding environment.

Arizona’s wide range of ecology makes it an ideal state to host the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation. State transportation planners must take into account diverse wildlife populations and varied topography in the low and high desert plateaus as well as rocky and tree-covered mountain terrain when planning Arizona’s highway system.

During ICOET, ADOT and Game and Fish will have the opportunity to showcase joint efforts that consider the environment during the planning and building stages of transportation infrastructure. One such effort was the construction of wildlife crossing bridges and culverts as part of improvements along US 93 near the Nevada state line to reduce the number of collisions between vehicles and desert bighorn sheep. Conference participants will also learn more about wildlife crossings along SR 260, context-sensitive highway improvements in Sedona and sustainability and preservation efforts for transportation solutions at Grand Canyon National Park.

To learn more about ADOT’s efforts, check out our previous blog posts. For additional information on this year’s conference, visit icoet.net.

Gonzales Pass earns environmental excellence award

Gonzales Pass earns environmental excellence award


Gonzales Pass earns environmental excellence award

Gonzales Pass earns environmental excellence award

September 21, 2011

Photo courtesy of Berwyn Wilbrink of Jacobs Engineering

The US 60 Gonzales Pass project received the President's Award at Valley Forward's 31st annual Environmental Excellence awards

All the innovation and care that went into the US 60 Gonzales Pass project has really paid off.

Not only did the 10-mile stretch west of Superior transform from two lanes into a safer, more modern four-lane highway, but the project has just been awarded the President’s Award in Valley Forward’s 31st annual Environmental Excellence Awards program.

In addition to the President’s Award – which was awarded Sept. 17 and is Valley Forward’s top environmental honor – Gonzales Pass also earned a first-place Valley Forward award in the site development and landscape (public sector) category.

Valley Forward is an association that advocates for a balance between development and the environment. In addition to the annual Environmental Excellence Awards presentation, Valley Forward also conducts a yearly Livability Summit and EarthFest Educators Night.

About the Gonzales Pass project …

This project was one that had a few challenges. But, because of a great partnership, crews worked through those issues and opened the road in Oct. 2008 – eight months ahead of schedule and about $2.5 million under the $40 million budget.

The location of this section of US 60 between Florence Junction and Superior – a scenic and environmentally sensitive portion of the Tonto National Forest – compounded the challenges faced by the project team. Extraordinary care had to be taken in order to minimize the impact of the highway’s construction.

Crews went to great lengths to control erosion, repair excavated areas and salvage and replant more than 18,000 cacti and other desert plants. In addition, the team constructed ramps connected to box and pipe culverts under the road to help wildlife, such as desert tortoises, to cross the highway safely. They also developed an innovative program to prevent storm water pollution by installing parallel roadway ditches and sediment-settling basins.

Valley Forward took note and has this to say about the efforts:

“The project team made environmental sensitivity a key priority in efforts to improve safety and capacity of the narrow, two-lane roadway by widening it to a four-lane facility.”

Congratulations to the project team, which included employees from ADOT, Jacobs Engineering, Logan Simpson Design, Dibble Engineering, AECOM, Kiewit Construction, Saguaro Geoservices, Corral Dybas Group and the Tonto National Forest!

For details on some of the current statewide projects ADOT is working on, visit our Projects page.

US 93 wildlife crossing honored with environmental award

US 93 wildlife crossing honored with environmental award


US 93 wildlife crossing honored with environmental award

US 93 wildlife crossing honored with environmental award

September 13, 2011

US 93 - Wildlife Crossing
          Photos courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department

Over the past several years, ADOT has worked to transform the highly traveled US 93 between Wickenburg to the Hoover Dam from a two-lane highway to an environmentally friendly four-lane, divided highway.

A project of this scale will always present its share of issues, but widening the final section – from Kingman to the Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – provided ADOT with an especially unique challenge …

That final stretch also happened to be the stomping grounds of the country’s largest contiguous herd of desert bighorn sheep.

Without some sort of solution, motorist safety would be at risk from the substantially increased chance of wildlife-vehicle collisions. But the sheep still needed to be able to cross the highway in order to reach essential resources on both sides.

Wildlife overpasses were thought to be the obvious fix … but, where should they be built along this 15-miles of new roadway?

To answer that question, ADOT worked with a number of state and federal agencies in a collaborative partnership to seek locations where the sheep were most likely to cross the highway. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Federal Highway Administration were all part of the effort.

The team was able to track the animals by placing electronic collars on them and using global positioning system tracking units to trace their movements over an extended period of time.

This research helped identify the most appropriate crossing locations for the herd. Three specially designed overpasses for bighorn sheep – the first of their kind in Arizona and the lower 48 states – were constructed, along with fencing, as part of the highway expansion.

The project has been successful. Cameras installed on the crossing bridges captured the desert bighorn sheep using the new overpasses, which are 100-feet wide and 203-feet long and the Federal Highway Administration awarded ADOT one of its top environmental honors, the 2011 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award, for the successful completion of this project.

ADOT’s Director of Environmental Services Todd Williams says the project was truly a joint effort of the multiple agencies involved.

“Without their support and teamwork, we would not have been able to accomplish as much as we did,” he said. “This new section of divided highway in this environmentally sensitive area delicately addressed two critical issues: the safety of the traveling public and the need to preserve the livelihood of the Desert Bighorn Sheep, which are native to the Black Mountains. These new wildlife overpasses helped accomplish both objectives on this project.”