Stop Chicken Little: The Truth about Traffic Calming  in Portland, Maine



 Stevens Avenue

Stevens Summary



Air Quality

Curbs, Medians, Tables

Pedestrian Accidents

Vehicle Accidents



Muskie Institute

Legal Aspects


MDOT data

SAP Lies


Opponent Petition

ATC Brochure

 Kane letters

Deering Oaks

Brighton Avenue

Capisic  Street


Stop Signs

Browner/EPA Fiasco

This is amazing: a story about how the EPA was funding organizations that were trying to make roads less efficient and more polluting. The lies, misrepresentation, and malfeasance of traffic calmers extend all the way to Washington. Thankfully, somebody with some clout, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, found out about this little fiasco, and put a stop to it.



EPA's Browner Admits Support for Anti-Roads Activists Wrong, 
Promises Reform 
      from TOLL ROADS newsletter, July/August 1999, no. 41
      (submitted by Peter Samuel, editor.)

      US EPA Administrator Carol Browner says the longstanding Transportation 
      Partners Program (TPP), under which the federal government's environmental 
      agency has been coordinating and funding anti-road groups around the 
      country "will be replaced with a more balanced program." Her decision to 
      end, or substantially reform, the controversial anti-roads program was 
      announced in a letter to Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) dated June 16 but 
      which has only just been made public by the agency.  A letter from Robert 
      Wolcott acting deputy assistant admin at EPA to Congressman David McIntosh 
      (R-IN) dated July 13 says: "The Administrator asked me to respond to your 
      letter and to inform you that the Transportation Partners Program has been 

      In its place the EPA is establishing a new Transportation Environment 
      Network (TEN) in which explicitly pro-roads groups and professional 
      organizations will be welcome.

      Browner tells Byrd in the 2-page letter that she had initiated a "thorough 
      review of the (EPA's) relationship with its partners, the funding of the 
      TransAct website, and our process to fund and provide oversight of the 
      grant recipients' activities." This followed a series of tough criticisms 
      and questions about the program made by Sen. Byrd in an independent 
      agencies appropriations subcommittee hearing Apr 29 (see History 
      Browner's letter

      Browner continued in the June 16 letter to Byrd: "As a result of the 
      review. I am making a number of important changes that will substantially 
      improve the program's accountability and balance, broaden the group of 
      funded participants, and lead to more effective policies to harmonize 
      environmental and transportation policy.   I believe you will find these 
      changes address your concerns."

      "First the (TPP) will be replaced with a more balanced program. As you 
      know in the past we have funded nine Principal (repeatedly misspelled 
      'le') Partners who in turn work with over 340 state and local governments, 
      businesses, and community and environmental groups.  So as to prevent any 
      appearance of endorsing the activities of these 340 organizations, EPA 
      will no longer fund the nine Principal Partners to maintain a network of 
      these organizations.  I agree with the concerns you raised regarding EPA 
      funding of the TransAct website.  At our request the Surface 
      Transportation Policy Project (STPP) has agreed to renegotiate our 
      existing cooperative agreement so that no EPA funds are used to support 

      "Secondly we are eliminating the non-competitive grant process used to 
      fund the nine Principal Partners.  It will be replaced with a competitive 
      Request for Proposals (RFP), open to all transportation and environmental 
      organizations.   Proposals will be subject to external peer review, and 
      grant recipients will need to demonstrate the involvement of state or 
      local government officials.  Moreover the agency has a rigorous post-award 
      monitoring process, which for these projects will include quarterly 
      reports and meetings, annual site visits, and a thorough review of all 
      publications prepared under the assistance agreements.

      "Lastly EPA will initiate a dialog with a representative group of 
      transportation and environmental stakeholders, which will be called the 
      Transportation Environment Network (TEN).  TEN will provide a forum for 
      members to review, on an ongoing basis, projects funded under the RFP, as 
      well as to provide an opportunity to discuss and undertake cooperative 
      activities to help reduce pollution from vehicles."

      Browner says that AASHTO (the state DOTs' lobby), AHUA (highway users), 
      the Institute of Transportation Engineers and other groups will be invited 
      to join TEN. She ends her letter saying: "Please be assured that I 
      recognize the vital role transportation investments play for local 
      mobility and economic development needs... I look forward to working with 
      you... to meet our shared commitment to protect public health and the 

      In three pages of responses to Congr. David McIntosh's questions, Browner 
      concedes some of the criticisms of TPP, especially that its program was 
      excessively focused on opposing roads.  She says the replacement program 
      the Transportation Environment Network "is embodying a broader approach" 
      and she cites the invitation to AASHTO, AHUA and ITE to participate.  
      EPA's legal basis for funding anti-roads activist groups was questioned.
      Statutory authority

      Browner says the statutory authority for TPP is contained in sec.103 of 
      the Clean Air Act, which states in (b) (3) that it has the authority to 
      make grants to public or private non-profit groups and to individuals to 
      collect and disseminate basic data on air quality "and other information 
      pertaining to air pollution and the prevention and control thereof."
      So it all depends on the definition of "other information"?

      This answer by Browner is quite at odds with the rationale for TPP stated 
      in its own official documents where "international commitments" to reduce 
      greenhouse gases are mentioned.  We criticized EPA/TPP for citing 
      "international commitments" when the Administration has not submitted the 
      Kyoto treaty for Senate ratification.  International commitments do not 
      seem to exist in the absence of a ratified treaty.

      The last annual report of EPA/TPP makes no mention of the Clean Air Act 
      authority. It states: "This unique program was formed out of President 
      Clinton and Vice President Gore's Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The 
      CCAP describes the US response to the Earth Summit, a gathering in Rio de 
      Janeiro... The Transportation Partners Program is responsible for 44% of 
      the transportation sector vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) reductions called 
      for in the CCAP. To meet this goal, the program aims to reduce (VMT by) 20 
      billion nationally in the year 2000. Such a reduction constitutes 0.8% of 
      the VMT baseline outlined in the CCAP. EPA headquarters staff who work on 
      the program are referred to as TP Central. (Right out of Orwell - TRnl) 
      The program's mission is to reduce the growth in VMT through the promotion 
      of projects that provide alternatives to single occupancy vehicle (SOV) 

      In another answer Browner conceded the anti-auto basis of TPP saying that 
      "EPA evaluated the success of the program by measuring carbon emissions 
      reductions resulting from reduced vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) as the 
      primary outcome performance measures...." She said that EPA "reported on" 
      reduction of pollutants that resulted from reduced VMT.
      Smoking gun

      McIntosh asked for details of road projects that grant recipients had 
      intervened against, the position of STPP, of EPA and the federal funding 
      at stake in each project. The 'smoking gun' in the scandal was "The 
      Directory of Transportation Reform Resources" jointly authored by the STPP 
      and EPA/TPP, a 194 page manual listing state by state the road projects 
      that the different constituents of TPP were working against. Browner's 
      letter avoids mention of the directory and says that its office of general 
      counsel is "in the process of identifying information contained in EPA 
      files which is responsive to your request."

      Included in the documents provided to the Congress is a spreadsheet 
      showing US EPA grants under the TPP.  Largest recipient has been 
      Environmental Defense Fund - $1,485,000, followed by STPP - $1,480,000, 
      Local Government Commission - $1,192,000, Local Environmental Initiatives 
      USA - $1,076,000, Renew America - $585,000, Association for Commuter 
      Transp/Transp Demand Management Institute - $565,000, Bicycle Federation 
      of America - $465,000, Public Technology - $395,000, Center for Clean Air 
      Policy - $225,000.  Funding ran over 6 years from FY94 through FY99.

      EDF supported a number of positive pro-roads policies especially the use 
      of road pricing to fund and manage extra highway capacity in the Bay area 
      and in Washington, DC.  Telephone logs, letters, records of meetings, the 
      TransAct website and publications under TPP show that STPP was at the 
      center of using US taxpayer money to organize opposition to road projects 
      at the local level. STPP was also the major source for the totally 
      one-sided content of the program, and its constant reiteration of catchy 
      half-truths and anti-road/anti-auto slogans, and its generally 
      propagandistic tone.
      This newsletter broke the story that set off a rumbling of 
      indignation in the roads community, that generated the fuss on Capitol 
      Hill, that led to Administrator Browner's review of her Transportation 
      Partners Program, and her promised reform. TRnl#29 July 98, and TR#33 Nov 
      98 devoted over 10 pages to our investigations of EPA/TPP via regular 
      journalistic inquiries, website searches, freedom of information filings, 
      and some valuable leaks from unnamable whistleblower allies. It was 
      revealed first here that the EPA had been coordinating and funding a 
      widespread campaign of virulent anti-roads propaganda via supposedly 
      independent citizen groups, sponsoring and training them in anti-roads 
      activism, conducting monthly telephone conference calls with anti-roads 
      activist leaders to coordinate activity, and that it was paying for the 
      leading anti-roads website ( If this wasn't enough, a 
      high level task force at EPA had approved an intensified and better 
      staffed and funded program of intervention at the local government level 
      to prevent roads projects being put into the mix of alternates in the 
      planning and public consultation process. The new policy was to work to 
      abort road projects before birth! We were the first to publicize the 
      details of this internal EPA report.

      We laid out the totally one-sided anti-auto/anti-roads emphasis of the EPA 
      and EPA-supported materials, pointed out falsehoods in their 
      representation of the issues --- in particular their repeated assertions 
      that new road laneage "only generates traffic," that it is the major 
      factor promoting 'sprawl', that auto emissions are rapidly getting worse, 
      and road expansion does nothing to relieve congestion. We focused most 
      heavily on the EPA's heavy financial support and close working 
      relationship with the environmentalist organizations' anti-roads 
      Washington lobby, Surface Transportation Policy Project.  The EPA covered 
      the costs of the STPP website and there were prominent links with the website of EPA/TPP.  We published the hourly pay rates EPA 
      was paying STPP staffers.   We discovered another similar fake website 
      with the non-government suffix .org which purported to be a citizen 
      network but which was in fact a fully controlled EPA site as well.
      AHUA presentation

      The American Highway Users Alliance asked us to give a presentation on all 
      this February 2 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City, VA at a 
      special meeting of their board of directors and other invited guests. (We 
      were offered and accepted a $500 fee.)  There we showed slides of the 
      source materials showing close collaboration between EPA and activist 
      groups on blocking road projects, including toll road projects, and the 
      memo outlining EPA's plans to intensify intervention at the local 
      government level to try and kill road improvements before they gained 
      momentum via the MIS/EIS process.  TRIP, ARTBA and AGC, other highway 
      lobby groups showed great interest too, and mentioned our materials in 
      faxes to members and in their newsletters.  A number of highway industry 
      lobbyists began to take up the TPP issue, and at least one state secretary 
      of transportation we know, circulated many copies of our critique of 
      EPA/TPP.   By March we were receiving a constant flow of requests by 
      telephone for copies of the newsletter's coverage of EPA/TPP, and our copy 
      machine and printer here rarely cooled down.

      Dan Murphy Washington correspondent for INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY, and 
      commentator Randal O'Toole of the Thoreau Institute (, wrote 
      their own solid pieces on the issue, discovering new angles to the 
      scandal, turning up additional information, and adding to the momentum.  
      Congressmen began to stir.   Especially infuriated at the EPA was Robert 
      Byrd, veteran WV senator and a Democrat.  He has worked hard to improve 
      the economy of his mountainous state by pushing major highway projects 
      there, and was outraged to find that a government agency was funding his 
      opponents.  We don't know who gave him a copy of our newsletter but we 
      understand he "hit the roof" when he read it and asked staff to check it 
      out and follow through hard --- or words to that effect.  We supplied the 
      Senate Appropriations Committee with a thick heap of supporting documents 
      after we heard about Sen. Byrd's interest.  Rep. David McIntosh (R), chair 
      of the house subcommittee covering the EPA, was most active on the House 
      side.  He ordered inquiries into EPA/TPP.  He expressed doubt about the 
      EPA's legal authority for the TPP, and noted that the grants to activist 
      groups were irregular in that instead of being advertised and made on the 
      basis of competitive bids, they were simply handed out to EPA friends and 
      allies. McIntosh fired off a very tough list of questions to Administrator 

      Meanwhile, April 29 at a senate sub-committee hearing on the EPA 
      represented by Browner herself, Byrd took TPP apart, and in the wake of 
      that she initiated the 6-week review which led to the decision to 
      discontinue, or reconstitute, the program.
      In case you hadn't noticed, this newsletter provides reportage 
      with attitude.  One attitude we developed after moving into this niche of 
      reporting roads was that the major Washington anti-roads lobby Surface 
      Transportation Policy Project (STPP) were a bunch of jerks, the very worst 
      kind of Washington, DC political operators.   Important operators though, 
      with a major role in shaping federal transport policy and legislation and 
      a central role in a misguided national movement to deny Americans the 
      infrastructure they need for their continued mobility. Decided they were 
      jerks, frankly, when they wouldn't take or answer polite phone calls --- 
      about ten of them over the course of a year --- inquiring about the basis 
      for their latest statements.  
    They wouldn't explain themselves,substantiate their claims, or demonstrate 
      even the most elementary respect for reason.  
      After a period of watching them and of trying to deal with 
      them, we decided these people care not a jot for facts, for data, for 
      logic... indeed for reality.  Zealots, they have their policy (Stop Roads) 
      and the only thing of interest to them is any scrap of dissociated data or 
      of half-baked notions that can be used to support that policy. This is 
      contempt for intellect and for reason.

      And talk about a far-fetched ridiculous policy.  An extreme policy.   This 
      is America after all --- land of prosperity, immigration, opportunity and of 
      freedom.  Immigration means more people and growing cities, that can only 
      grow around roads.  Prosperity generates the income to buy new housing and 
      some space around it, and to buy high quality mobility and freedom and 
      opportunity demand mobility --- personal mobility.  And this is an age of 
      dispersed and movable workplaces, multiple worker households, flextime, 
      telecommuting in which the door-to-door, go-when-you're-ready automobile 
      simply has no serious competition. For all their tactical and 
      propagandistic smarts, these STPP guys live intellectually in a cloud 
      cuckoo land of unreality in thinking they can turn back the tide of 
      automobility in America.
      They're a drag

      Yet they ARE capable of being a drag on the system --- of slowing down 
      needed road improvements, making each road enhancement more of a struggle 
      for its sponsors, more expensive to develop, to permit and to build.  They 
      do delay life-saving and congestion relieving projects that will 
      eventually be built, and meantime these jerks diminish the quality of 
      people's lives and see people unnecessarily maimed and killed in traffic 
      accidents, who would live on better roads.  They are also capable of 
      contributing to a lot of governmental waste, of directing taxpayer money 
      into black holes...

      Well, in a free society everyone has a right to advocate any nutty idea 
      with their own resources.  But they don't have the right to do 
      surreptitious sweetheart deals with like-minded bureaucrats, to co-opt the 
      prestige of the US government to their purposes, or to divert taxpayer 
      money down their own holes... so we went for them.  We hope we did that 
      with a modicum of fairness.  Despite being "ag'in em" we tried to report 
      everything about them accurately.  We did not exaggerate, so far as we 
      know.  We tried not to, in part because your credibility suffers, but also 
      because it is misleading to your customers (readers) and just plain wrong 
      to misrepresent facts.

      We thought frankly that they'd all just hunker down and ride out whatever 
      little turbulence we were able to generate with an exposé of the 
      STPP-EPA/TPP deal.  Carol Browner's EPA probably remains as firmly 
      committed as ever to misguided STPP-like notions of trying to limit 
      automobility in America by choking off road improvements.  But she and 
      STPP ran into one serious and formidable old pol in Senator Robert Byrd 
      and into another serious and formidable young pol in Cong. David McIntosh. 
       Those two and their staffs deserve the credit for cutting off taxpayer 
      subsidies to the zealots.  But let's give Browner the benefit of the 
      doubt.   When she was forced by Sen. Byrd to review the detail of her 
      agency's TP program she had the courage and integrity to stand up and 
      acknowledge there was something wrong, and to take the initiative to kill 
      an indefensible relationship with a lobby group.   American government is 
      healthier for that, and Browner deserves a measure of respect even from 
      her opponents for doing the right thing.

      LATE ADDITION:  Allen Greenberg, director of the newly formed Transp 
      Environment Network (TEN) at EPA responded to our request for comment on a 
      draft of the report above. We thank him for picking up some errors which 
      we corrected above. Greenberg interestingly defends the Transp Partners 
      Program (TPP), so much so that one wonders why his boss Administrator 
      Carol Browner got rid of it, and how far he is committed to conducting a 
      different operation from TPP. He claims of TPP: "Information disseminated 
      through the program includes peer reviewed research products that provide 
      critical information to decision makers at the state and local level. This 
      includes new research on the relationships between road capacity and 
      induced travel..."

      Comment:  The curious use of the present tense "includes" suggests this 
      was lifted from a defense of TPP produced before Administrator Browner 
      killed the program.  In all the many TPP materials I gathered I never saw 
      a single peer-reviewed study, but there might have been some such that I 
      missed.   That would not alter the fact that the great bulk of TPP 
      material was quite one-sided sloganizing, pamphleteering and propaganda 
      against auto/road travel, not professional studies conveying useful 
      information. STPP, the principal collaborator and benefactor in TPP, 
      produced only activist anti-roads propaganda, stuff without any 
      acknowledgment of the benefits of automobiles and roads, or of their 
      central role in providing Americans with mobility. 
      Greenberg writes: "Your story also incorrectly states that the process of 
      environmental streamlining (as mandated in TEA-21) is an EPA attempt to 
      have local governments kill road projects..."

      Comment: The EPA's official TEA-21 Workgroup Report "New Approaches to 
      Integrate Environment and Transportation Policy through TEA-21 
      Implementation" (8/26/98) states: "EPA can use this as an opportunity to 
      change the transportation planning process by building on our involvement 
      in plan development to ensure that demand management strategies with broad 
      multi-media benefits are addressed at key points in the planning 
      process."(p4) The document notes that "Currently most environmental 
      reviews occur after (road) projects have a political constituency behind 
      them, making substantial changes very difficult." (p6) This is clearly a 
      reference to the need to go against road projects early in the planning 
      process at the local level. The document calls for "raising our 
      constituencies awareness of the new opportunities" (p7), these 
      constituencies clearly being the anti-roads groups. In the context of 
      "streamlining" the document mentions the need to use it to establish 
      "better transportation policies and strategies that reduce reliance on new 
      roads and low density development and reducing the need for stakeholder 
      involvement at later stages of implementation." (p8) The end "Summary of 
      Action Items" includes: "Increase efforts to get involved earlier in 
      regional transportation planning and project selection." The report called 
      for an extra 31.5 FTE personnel in order to staff the intensified effort.
      This strategy document is saying as clearly as its authors are capable: 
      "Get in there at the local MPO level, and kill those road projects early."
      This "New Approaches..." document was the product of a formally 
      constituted workgroup and is signed by 15 senior EPA officials (5 of whom 
      are regional administrators). The cover memo says that it was "closely 
      coordinated by staff and senior management from across the agency 
      including (7 offices) and (5) regions."   I was told by the director of 
      TPP that "New Approaches" was adopted as official Agency policy on 
      transportation for TEA-21 without amendment.

      "New Approaches" states that more forceful EPA policies against roads and 
      single occupant travel (in favor of "alternatives") are necessary because 
      of "very rapid increases in driving" and because "vehicle-caused pollution 
      doubles periodically in most metropolitan areas" (p4).  These statements, 
      which are laid down as the basis for the whole EPA program are false.   
      Driving as measured by vehicle-miles-traveled has been growing an average 
      3.4% the past five years, about the rate of growth of the economy, and 
      trending down.  That is hardly "very rapid."

      As for vehicle-caused pollution doubling periodically, the EPA's own 
      "National Air Pollution Emissions Trends" publication reports highway 
      vehicles total emissions 1980-1995: CO reduced 25%, NOx reduced 12%, VOCs 
      reduced 32%, PM-10 reduced 25%, SO2 reduced 42%, lead down 97%.  You can 
      choose different periods and you get different numbers but the sign is 
      almost invariably a minus.  The trend in total vehicle-produced pollution 
      is heavily down.  'Halves periodically' would have been closer to the 
      truth than doubles.

      So the whole EPA program for attacking autos/roads following TEA-21 is 
      based on a Goebbelesque lie.  Officials who sign off on such rubbish in a 
      major strategy report can hardly be expected to curb propaganda and 
      nonsense in their hirelings.

      Editor Peter Samuel is reachable
      at , tel. (301) 631-1148.
      © 2000 American Road & Transportation Builders Association