The idea of a so-called green highway is controversial enough that the very first of the frequently asked questions on the official Web site of the Green Highways Partnership asks: "Is the phrase 'Green Highways' an oxymoron?" For some people, like author Ozzie Zehner, the answer would likely be, yes. "America's extensive automotive transportation system, alongside impressive benefits, yields a host of negative side effects such as smog, CO2 and deadly accidents," he says.
But the Green Highways Partnership, an effort begun by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Highway Administration, seeks to enlist public and private entities in an effort to make highways function better for those who drive on them (i.e. less congested) and also more sustainable. More specifically, green highways are those that use permeable materials in their construction in order to prevent metals and toxins from seeping into watersheds; utilize recycled materials to reduce landfill use; and control invasive species and promote the health of a natural, native habitat. Another element of the partnership is that it aims to achieve all of these, and many more, goals through market-driven, voluntary approaches and not via regulation.
Click forward to get out of the car and go up, way up.