Sustainable transportation

Find examples of sustainability practices that we do in our work every day.

Our Sustainability executive order (PDF 39KB) directs agency staff to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and enhance resilience.

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.

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.

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.

Expanding our electric vehicle network

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

Plug-in hybrid work trucks

WSDOT is the first state agency in Washington to purchase a plug-in hybrid work truck, a major step in our continuing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

Recycling concrete

The I-5/SR 16 Connectors Realignment project recycles the old cement pavement on-site and reincorporates it into the roadway. By reusing the concrete, WSDOT is reducing waste.

Lowering 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.

But this isn't your average dirt-moving project. Originally, the mass excavation was scheduled to take about three months. Trucks would have been hauling 80,000 cubic yards of dirt 24 hours a day, seven days a week through city and neighborhood streets– about 2,500 truckloads (which could fill eight Goodyear blimps!) of dirt.

Instead, the contractor came up with a creative alternative: they cut a hole in an existing retaining wall and installed a conveyor belt over I-405. This allowed them to not only load the dirt onto dump trucks away from the highway, but to avoid driving the whole route on city and neighborhood streets.

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.

Fuel reduction at Washington State Ferries

Washington State Ferries is focused on reducing fuel consumption and converting vessels to electric hybrids.

Reducing waste to resources and time

When it comes to daily operations, paperwork is a necessity. WSDOT’s Northwest Region Signals Office was processing hundreds of invoices each month from utility companies such as Puget Sound Energy. Because of a WSDOT request during the 1980s PSE was sending three copies of each invoice for every WSDOT account. Northwest Region Signals alone had nearly 50 separate PSE accounts.

Processing such a large amount of invoices took considerable time and work and had many hidden costs. In 2014, region staff and Puget Sound Energy began a bill consolidation project. The project moved the invoicing process online and consolidated invoices. As a result, region staff reduced the amount of invoices from 572 to 89 in the first year – an 84 percent reduction. Since then the effort expanded statewide, reducing paperwork and cutting administrative costs in the process.

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.

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 (PDF 1.09MB).

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.

Slow down – lives are on the line. 

In 2023, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.