Utahns are no strangers to days of poor air quality.

During the winter months we feel the effects of winter inversion. On these select days, our valleys become like bowls with smog and haze covering us from above. In the summer we feel the effects of bad ozone – a layer of poor air created from pollutants reacting with sunlight. Fortunately for us, inroads have been made in confronting this challenge. The State has prioritized transportation investments that  reduce congestion, improve mobility and create a cleaner environment.

Private efforts are being made as well. For example, July marks the annual Clear the Air Challenge, where Utahns across the Wasatch Front compete to reduce trips and miles in vehicles. The challenge responds to the summer month’s mixture of heat and vehicle emissions that become responsible for 50% of ground level ozone. Since it’s inception in 2009, the Clear the Air Challenge has helped motive Utahns to eliminate over 4,234 tons of emissions trips by carpooling, using mass transit, active transit or skipping unnecessary trips entirely.

The Clear the Air Challenge demonstrates the importance of air quality, as well as the relevance our transportation system in pollution reduction. Investment in transportation provides returns that save us time and money as well as curve our inherit pollution problems.

We see this first hand through the implementation of Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, along with other vehicle fuel efficiency improvements, which are estimated to help reduce vehicle emissions by 68 percent.

chooo choooInvestments in transportation modes such as mass transit and active transit are obvious methods to reduce air pollution, but we have to address the main culprit of vehicle emissions directly with targeted investments in roads to reduce congestion and idling vehicles. The investments in transportation made thus far have positively impacted multiple sectors of the economy and positively impacted the environment. Although the efforts of the Clear the Air Challenge only take place during the month of July, our investments in transportation will continue to reduce emissions year around.

Take action and join the challenge, visit http://cleartheairchallenge.org/ for more info.