Category: Federal

Tell FHWA to pass their proposed rule on street design

Last month, the Federal Highway Administration put forward a great idea.

The agency, which oversees the design of millions of miles of roads in the United States, proposed a new rule which would dramatically ease federal design standards for many of those roadways. It’s a move that would make a Complete Streets approach significantly easier for communities across the country.

You go, FHWA! Tell the agency to adopt its proposed rule.

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The fight for Complete Streets goes to conference

The battle is on in Congress this week for the final version of the next federal transportation bill.

In one corner, the Senate and its version which includes strong language to make streets safer across the country. In the other corner, the House and its version which falls far short.

Which will win?

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This week: How will the House improve its version of the transportation bill?

Last week the House of Representatives passed its initial version of a multiyear transportation bill. This bill has the potential to make streets safer across the country, help communities build more homes and offices near transit, and give more control of transportation investments to local communities. In order for this to happen, though, the House’s version of the bill needs to improve considerably.

Representatives agree: they’ve filed more than 200 amendments to the current version of the bill. Today the Rules Committee will decide which ones to allow to the floor. And then later this week, the full House will vote on all the amendments and create their final version of the bill.

Make the next transportation bill a forward-looking one: Send a letter to your representative this morning >>

Several amendments under consideration would improve how the bill supports walkable communities served by transit, including:

  • Amendment #18 from Representative Lipinski of Illinois, which would make transit-oriented development (TOD) eligible for RRIF funding.
  • Amendment #21 from Representative DeSaulnier of California, which would improve planning and project selection performance measures and transparency.
  • Amendment #37, also from Representative Lipinski, which expresses the Sense of Congress that TOD is an eligible activity under the RRIF program.
  • Amendment #47 from Representative Schakowsky of Illinois that would require a study and rule on safety standards or performance measures to improve pedestrian safety.

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Where we’re going, we DO need roads — and Congress can make them safer, smarter, and closer to transit


We might not have trash-powered flying cars in 2015, but we CAN invest in a transportation system of tomorrow. Congress is considering the next federal transportation bill this week — tell them to make it a forward-looking one.

The U.S. House of Representatives introduced their proposal for a new federal transportation bill last week, and Representatives will mark up and vote on the bill in committee tomorrow.

This gives us a small window of time to improve the bill as it stands, and we need your help. Tell your Representative to make the next transportation bill a forward-looking one.

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USDOT proposes to remove restrictive design guidelines that make safer streets more difficult to build


Crossposted from Transportation for America.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) took an encouraging and surprising step this week to make it dramatically easier for cities and communities of all sizes to design and build complete streets that are safer for everyone by easing federally-mandated design standards on many roads.

Currently, FHWA has a long list of design criteria that local communities and states must adhere to when building or reconstructing certain roads, unless they choose to go through an arduous process of requesting an exception to do things like line a downtown street with street trees, reduce the width of lanes to add a bike lane, or curve a street slightly to slow traffic and make it safer for people in cars and on foot.

In this new proposed rule, FHWA decided after a thorough review to scrap 11 of 13 current design criteria for certain roads because they decided these criteria have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and has a stronger connection for rural roads, freeways and higher speed urban arterials.

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Newark, NJ; Hamilton, OH; Jackson, TN win 2015 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement from U.S. EPA

The City of Newark, NJ remediated the site of a former smelting plant to build a new—and now award-winning—park along the Passaic River. Photo via Archpaper.

Three cities have transformed the site of a former smelting plant, a neighborhood destroyed by tornado, and a near-empty historic downtown into vibrant, walkable places. Now, these projects have been recognized with the 2015 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Riverfront Park is the culmination of decades-long work to transform five miles of formerly industrial Passaic riverfront in Newark, NJ. The park’s land was once home to a smelting plant, and sat abandoned and unusable for years. Environmental remediation and an intensive public engagement process have created what will ultimately be 19 acres of parkland and Newark’s first—and so far only—public access to the Passaic River. In this community of color and predominantly low-income area, with few green spaces and a history of industrial pollution, the new park is game-changing. “When I was growing up, we had very few places to play, very few parks,” said Ana Baptista, a Newark resident, in EPA’s video about the project. “My daughters are going to grow up having a relationship to the water and the river that I didn’t have.”

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FTA announces the 21 winners of inaugural Transit-Oriented Development Planning Grants

Sound Transit’s LINK light rail on the Seattle-SeaTac line. Six stations will eventually be added to Tacoma’s separate LINK line, doubling their number of stations.

Crossposted from Transportation for America.

It’s important that communities make the best use of land around transit lines and stops, efficiently locate jobs and housing near new transit stations, and boost ridership — which can also increase the amount of money gained back at the farebox. Twenty-one communities today received a total of $19.5 million in federal grants from a new pilot program intended to do exactly that.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Transit-Oriented Development Planning Pilot Program was one of the bright spots in MAP-21, and a priority we worked hard to see included in the final bill during those negotiations back in the summer of 2012, along with our colleagues at LOCUS, the coalition of responsible real estate investors within Smart Growth America.

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Congress is about to have a key opportunity to make communities more walkable. Will they?


Yesterday, the U.S. Surgeon General launched a new nationwide Call to Action to help Americans be healthier by making walking and physical activity a bigger part of their daily lives.

The event recognized physical activity as one of the nation’s highest health priorities. And as Dr. Murthy explained yesterday, building communities where it is safe and convenient to walk, bike, or wheelchair roll is part of the solution.

Congress is about to have a critical opportunity to take action on this issue. Legislators are currently working on a multiyear federal transportation bill which will shape communities and transportation programs for years to come. As representatives negotiate the bill in the coming weeks, will they prioritize walkable communities?

Tell your Representative to listen to the Surgeon General: Make walkable communities a priority in the next federal transportation bill.

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