Category: Federal

USDOT announces new initiative to improve safety for people bicycling and walking

pedestrian-safetyThunderbird Avenue in Phoenix, AZ. Photo via Ped/Bike Images.

Americans today are walking and bicycling for fun, for their health, and as a way to get where they need to go. But in too many communities, roads are unsafe for people traveling by foot or bike. Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced plans to help end this deadly problem.

At the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference this morning in Pittsburgh, USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a new federal initiative to make roads safer for people bicycling and walking. According to a USDOT release, the 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by USDOT field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation.

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FTA voices its formal support for joint development

Joint developmentTriMet’s joint development program in Portland, OR, helped build the Patton Apartments (above) on land once occupied by the Crown Motel. Photo via SERA Architects.

Developing land owned by transit agencies boosts ridership and supports local economies. So how come more agencies don’t do it?

New guidelines from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) encourage transit agencies to do just that. In guidance issued on August 25, 2014, the FTA came out in support of joint development—cooperation between local transit agencies and real estate developers to make the most of agency-owned land. The new guidance is the first time the FTA has publicly recognized the multiple benefits of such cooperation, which include increased ridership, better transit access for the community, greater revenue for the transit agency, and broader economic development. From the document:

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Senate, House tangle over highway funding cliff

In the past week, with just days left before the Highway Trust Fund runs dry, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed short-term measures that would keep the fund solvent through the end of this year.

While both plans are essentially short-term patches for a long-term problem—meeting America’s growing infrastructure needs with funding from a gas tax that hasn’t risen since 1993—the Senate version, passed Tuesday, is a big step in the right direction.

Gone are the pension-smoothing and accounting gimmicks, included in the House’s earlier version of the bill, that Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) called “generational theft.” Furthermore, rather than delay the Trust Fund’s insolvency to May of 2015, the new proposal only runs through the end of this year, forcing Congress to confront a long-term solution sooner.

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Obama announces new Build America Investment Initiative

Today, President Obama announced the launch of the Build America Investment Initiative, a new government-wide initiative to invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure by expanding opportunities for the public and private sectors to partner and better leverage each other’s resources to grow jobs and strengthen the economy.

In addition, the initiative will create the Build America Transportation Investment Center within the US Department of Transportation, tasked with providing cities and states with both the tools and other forms of technical assistance needed to create innovative financing solutions such as TIFIA to fund transportation infrastructure improvements and the support necessary to remove regulatory barriers that prevent the public and private sectors from collaborating on ways to fund infrastructure.

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House Appropriations Committee markup cuts EPA funding

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The legislation would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overall funding by 9 percent in addition to cutting funding for EPA programs important to helping communities advance smart growth solutions.

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Congress moves toward short-term transportation fix

Wyden-FInance-markup
Chairman Wyden helped two committees arrive at a short-term fix.

This week, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees moved toward passing a short-term fix for the transportation funding crisis, with each committee passing a complementary bill designed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through at least early 2015. If passed into law, the bills would transfer $10.8 billion dollars to the trust fund, keeping federal transportation operations in the black for another few months.

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President Obama Calls on Congress to Save Highway Trust Fund

Yesterday afternoon in Washington, DC, President Obama called on Congress to adopt a long-term transportation bill on the scale of his recently proposed four-year, $302 billion program. In a speech in front of the Key Bridge in Georgetown, the president also appealed to Congress to save the Highway Trust Fund from pending insolvency, which would threaten jobs and the progress of vital transportation projects nationwide.

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“They’re gonna need to see this upstairs.”

USDOT-selfie
Smart Growth America President Geoff Anderson personally delivered the safety rule comments to USDOT.

“They’re gonna need to see this upstairs” — that’s what the staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation said about your letters this week.

By Monday afternoon, over 1500 of you made your voices heard in support of stronger transportation safety measures through our online action. Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America, personally delivered your letters calling on USDOT to require that states set real targets for reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our streets and that they be held accountable as they work toward those goals.

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