Category: DOT

2014 TIGER grants will help create Complete Streets and great neighborhoods

dahlonega-gaDahlonega, GA will use its TIGER grant to make streets safer and more accessible. Photo via the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of the 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

With an emphasis on getting the highest bang-for-the-buck and solid partnerships, it’s not surprising that many of the winning street projects and plans are those that take a Complete Streets approach. Here are some of our favorites.

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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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“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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Last chance to tell USDOT to set real safety goals

Students walk along street with no sidewalks next to automobile traffic.

There’s just one week left to tell the US Department of Transportation to get serious about safety and accountability.

In MAP-21, the current federal law governing national transportation investments, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to set certain measures of progress for the state transportation agencies. In March, USDOT unveiled its proposal for measuring and showing progress in reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries both as pure numbers and as a function of vehicles miles traveled (VMT). Congress clearly stated that they wanted a “significant reduction” in fatalities and injuries for all users on all roads, and they doubled the amount available through the related safety program to help achieve that goal.

USDOT’s proposal falls short. Send a letter to Secretary Foxx today.

First, states only need to show progress in two of those four goals, which is out of step with Congressional intent.

Second, the process for setting goals and measuring progress is out of line with the goals states already develop—and no where near visionary or inspiring. Instead, USDOT would use a historical trend line to establish targets each year. States make “significant progress” by achieving fatality or injury numbers within a 70 percent confidence interval of that projected trend line. If a state’s target is determined to be 759 fatalities, so long as it sees fewer than 825 fatalities, USDOT will say that it has made progress. More people can die or be seriously injured without consequence.

Our third issue with the rulemaking: it doesn’t separate non-motorized users from motorized. In doing so, states could lose sight of growing safety problems in walking and bicycling among the larger share, and generally downward trending, of vehicular safety.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Marks Up FY15 THUD Bill

Yesterday, the Senate FY15 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 29-1 vote. The bill proposes funding levels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other related agencies for fiscal year 2015.

This comes on the heels of the House Appropriations Committee passing their version last month. Overall, the Senate bill would provide $54.4 billion in discretionary budget authority for THUD agencies, as opposed to the $52 billion from the House bill. Despite the funding differences between the two bills, the final funding decisions will likely be determined in an omnibus appropriations package later this year.

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What the GROW AMERICA Act would mean for smart growth and community development

Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?

The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.

First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.

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USDOT’s proposed safety rule gives agencies a pass on progress

Get out your commenting pens, folks, because the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed rule for measuring progress on safety needs a lot of work.

In the 2012 transportation law, MAP-21, Congress directed the DOT to set measures of progress in a number of areas that could be used to hold transportation agencies accountable. The first one out of this gate last week was safety. [See the full rule as published in the Federal Register here.]

It should have been a triumph for people concerned about the lives and well-being of all users of the road network. For the first time, Congress emphasized that state DOTs would need to significantly reduce the number and rate of deaths and injuries on our roadways. And the DOT’s rhetoric in the new rule suggests that as their intention.

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