For Immediate Release: 04/22/22
Contact: Office of Media Relations and Communications
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THRUWAY AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES MEASURES TO INCREASE ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP FOR EARTH DAY 2022
Thruway Authority Staff to Participate in Activities Such as Wildflower Plantings, Trash Pick-Up, Cleaning Stormwater Controls Among Other Projects
Additional Year-Round Efforts Include Planting Living Snow Fences, Greenhouse Gas Reductions and Installation of Electric Vehicle Chargers
The New York State Thruway Authority today announced measures to increase environmental stewardship in honor of Earth Day. Thruway Authority staff will be participating in a variety of activities such as wildflower and pollinator plantings, trash pick-up and bridge deck sweeping, planting and repairing live snow fences, among many other projects.
“The Thruway Authority strives to incorporate environmental stewardship into all of our projects and activities,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said. “The many efforts such as wildflower plantings, integrating environmental initiatives into the service area redevelopment project, installing electric vehicle chargers at all of our service areas and much more, all contribute to environmental stewardship that is vital to the world today.”
Environmental Stewardship is one of the primary responsibilities of the Thruway Authority and incorporating it into all projects and activities is a strategic goal of the organization. A few of the many year-round efforts motorists may see include:
- Comprehensive recycling program at each of our 27 Service Areas across the system.
- Planting wildflowers and other plant materials to support pollinators.
- Planting additional living snow fences and restoring/transplanting tree seedlings where required to help to reduce drifting and blowing snow from reaching the roadway during winter months.
- Storm drain stenciling which serves as a reminder to travelers that whatever goes in the storm drain ultimately makes its way to a waterway.
- Public service announcements at each Service Area provide educational information to travelers 24/7.
The Authority continues its efforts to support pollinators. Such efforts include reducing mowing limits to allow the cultivation of native species, which support pollinators. For the 2022 mowing season, the Authority is implementing a new mowing protocol aimed at contributing to the safety and ecological health of the right-of-way, while using Authority resources as efficiently as possible. The many benefits of this new protocol include: promoting sustainable vegetation to prevent erosion; increasing rainwater infiltration; slowing and improving rainwater runoff quality; promoting natural and native vegetation to maximize natural areas and foster diverse vegetation; and, preserving and expanding habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.
Wetland Improvements for Wildlife
There are unique wetland complexes that provide a wealth of flora and fauna diversity along the Thruway corridor. These wetland complexes support many federally and state protected species. Road corridors, adjacent to wetlands, often lead to habitat loss, due to changes in hydrologic conditions and fragmentation.
To better manage hydrologic conditions at one specific wetland complex, the Thruway Authority, in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, installed a water level control structure in August 2021. For 2022, the Thruway Authority is proposing to remove sediment from two choked culverts beneath the Thruway to accommodate hydrologic and aquatic connectivity at this same location. The work is being guided by research from SUNY Oswego. The results of SUNY Oswego’s research will ultimately provide guidelines on how to implement best water-level management practices across the entire wetland complex, in continuing cooperation with the Thruway Authority, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Department of Transportation.
Service Area Redevelopment Project
The service area redevelopment project, which began in July 2021, will incorporate numerous strategies to promote sustainability and reduce energy consumption. United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles will be incorporated into the buildings and surrounding sites. Items being considered include low flow water fixtures, high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, fixtures to improve indoor air quality, rainwater management features, non-invasive, low maintenance plantings, and much more. These features will also support New York State Executive Orders 88 and 166, as well as the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
As part of the service area modernization project, all 27 service areas will have at least two and up to six, Level 3 fast charging stations able to charge all types of electric vehicles. When completed, there will be 120 EV charging stations installed statewide across the Thruway system, with an average of 30 miles between each location.
Currently, there are 40 charging stations located at eight service areas, three welcome centers, nine commuter park and ride lots and the two Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge landings.
The Thruway Authority modernized its 570-mile transportation system by converting to cashless tolling in November 2020. Cashless tolling reduces congestion, improves traffic flow, is better for the environment, and allows for non-stop travel on New York’s toll roads, bridges and tunnels.
Systemwide, the reduction of greenhouse gases resulting from the implementation of cashless tolling continue to benefit the climate. The project resulted in GHG emission reductions estimated to equate to an approximate annual savings of 4.4 million gallons of gasoline.
With thousands of trees along its right-of-way, the Authority has had the opportunity to collaborate on statewide efforts to study and control the spread of invasive insects that use certain tree species to eat and reproduce.
The Spotted Lantern Fly (SLF) is another invasive insect that poses a serious threat to the state’s trees. The SLF primarily feeds on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), but can feed on other plants, often with devastating effects. The SLF feeds on the sap of trees, leaving them severely stressed and vulnerable to disease and attack from other insects. The Authority is working with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to identify and address infestations, and recently removed a grouping of infested tree of heaven near the Sloatsburg Service Area.
At the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and the Grand Island Bridges in Western New York, peregrine falcons use nesting boxes each year to lay their eggs. Peregrine falcons are an endangered species. Nest boxes have supported New York’s falcon population in recent decades, providing shelter and high vantage points from which the peregrines can search for food. For more than 20 years, the Thruway Authority has worked diligently with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to reinvigorate the peregrine falcon population in the region. In Western New York, the North Grand Island Bridge nest box was constructed approximately 17 years ago to attract peregrine falcons in an attempt to help control the pigeon population on the bridge. The South Grand Island Bridge nest was built 13 years ago after it was discovered a pair of falcons created their own nest there. The Thruway Authority works with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at the Grand Island Bridge to inspect the nesting boxes and health of the falcon chicks.
You can learn more about the Environmental Stewardship efforts on the Thruway Authority’s website.Additionally, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation created a list of 50 Earth Day tips of simple things you can do at home and away from home which can be found at dec.ny.gov.
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