“Achieving Balance in Ecology and Transportation”
Balance is defined as “a state in which different things have an equal or proper amount of importance.” Achieving balance between healthy ecosystems and efficient transportation systems is critical in the pathway to sustainable growth and development, and a difficult task in new and changing environments. The ICOET 2019 theme explores the challenges and successes that transportation organizations encounter in striving for this balance through the delivery of their programs to benefit the public interest. These efforts can include incorporating anticipated climate change effects into long-range planning, mitigating ecological impacts of new construction projects, or adaptively managing existing infrastructure effectively while improving baseline ecosystem functions. Achieving balance in new and changing physical, fiscal, political and social environments relies on science, is reinforced through policy, and is best implemented through collaboration, adaptation and innovation.
The highway and rail transportation organizations in our host state of California exemplify the 2019 theme as they continually face many challenges to achieving the balance between vulnerable ecological systems and safe, efficient transportation systems. Some of these challenges include fluctuating funding, intensified emergency work due to more frequent extreme weather events, and increased accountability to an informed and interested public. Around the world, transportation organizations are responsible for improving or replacing aging and deteriorating infrastructure built decades ago under a very different development paradigm while addressing current ecological needs and in consideration of future environmental changes. Advances in our knowledge of transportation ecology will provide new opportunities to better integrate sustainable transportation infrastructure into complex and vulnerable natural landscapes.
Implementing transportation solutions using the best science and policy guidance while maintaining scope, schedule and budget requires collaboration, adaptation and innovation. As we celebrate our 10th biennial conference year in 2019, ICOET continues to serve as an invaluable conduit for transportation and ecology professionals around the world to share applicable research and best practices, and to transfer knowledge between experienced practitioners and future leaders as we strive to achieve balance between ecology and transportation.