Learn how your community can grow smarter with technical assistance from Smart Growth America


A view of downtown Oklahoma City, OK by Flickr user Becky McCray. Smart Growth America came to Oklahoma City in April to provide technical assistance.

On Tuesday, Smart Growth America and the Tennessee Department of Transportation released Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, a report that provides detailed analysis and specific recommendations to help Tennessee invest more smartly and efficiently in its transportation and infrastructure needs.

The report was created as part of Smart Growth America’s technical assistance, which is available to towns, counties and states interested in learning how to apply smart growth strategies to their own growth or planning. Policy analyses, public investment recommendations and hands-on workshops are among the many services included in our technical assistance.

Technical assistance

TDOT Commissioner John Schroer on building an even better transportation system in Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer is part of the dedicated team working to make Tennessee’s transportation system more efficient and a better value for Tennessee taxpayers. As part of our new analysis, Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, released in partnership with the Tennessee DOT, Commissioner Schroer writes an open letter to Tennesseans on how and why the department is working to improve its services. From the report:

Dear Fellow Tennesseans:

It is critical that our state continues to provide better services and infrastructure to our citizens and businesses, and more importantly in a financially responsible manner. I also recognize that the services provided by our transportation system are absolutely critical to sustaining and growing our state’s economy. It is therefore essential that all of us plan, build and operate our transportation system in a manner that balances the needs of rural and urban areas, businesses and communities, and preserves our way of life.

While we are all concerned about maintaining the current infrastructure at an acceptable level, we must also wisely use our limited funding sources to provide a transportation system that is efficient, dependable and safe for all users of the system. TDOT is focused on a planning a statewide, multimodal transportation system that enables both rural and urban communities to grow and prosper taking into account business needs, access to jobs, access to freight ports and airports, needs of transit riders, bicyclists, pedestrians, tourism and quality of life.

Technical assistance

Analysis highlights opportunities to improve Tennessee’s transportation system, make best use of limited financial resources

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has partnered with Smart Growth America to increase its efficiency and ensure the greatest possible return on Tennessee’s transportation investments. As a result, TDOT has compiled a series of recommendations designed to pin down areas for improvement, prioritize projects and streamline processes.

“Transportation investments are invaluable to driving economic recovery and prosperity across Tennessee,” says TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “But as this report shows, we cannot be limited to old ways of doing business. We must enable and encourage more flexible, innovative and lower-cost solutions to state’s transportation needs. Prioritizing and designing projects to add the most value for their cost is smart, common sense policy in a time of fiscal constraint, and all Tennesseans stand to benefit from an even more effective Department of Transportation.”

The analysis, Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, revealed TDOT currently has nine times more projects in its work plan than it has funding. As a result, some beneficial projects currently run the risk of falling through the cracks, while the service intent of others might be equally fulfilled through a less expensive solution.

Technical assistance

Helping Byram, NJ turn its Village Center vision into reality


An architect’s rendering of proposed changes to Byram, NJ’s main boulevard. Photo via New Jersey Highlands Council.

Byram is a bucolic township of 9,000 people located amidst the lakes and hills of northern New Jersey 50 miles from New York City and 25 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Having embraced the land preservation goals of New Jersey Highlands Regional Master Plan, Byram has now set its sites on creating its first-ever Village Center on a 60-acre property – and some adjacent parcels – along New Jersey Highway 206, the town’s “Main Street.”

Byram’s vision for a Village Center has won wide acclaim, including a smart growth award from New Jersey Future, the state’s leading smart growth group and a coalition partner of Smart Growth America. But how to transform a vision into a reality – especially in a down economy and a slow real estate market?

Last week, Smart Growth America led a two-day workshop to help civic and community leaders in Byram grapple with this question. Participants included Mayor James Oscovitch, Town Manager Joseph Sabatini, other members of the Town Council and the Town Planning Board, business owners, property owners, and many interested Byram residents.

Technical assistance

Greer, SC explores transit options along Route 29 with help from Smart Growth America

Community leaders in Greer, South Carolina, are trying to figure out if and how the town might create better transportation options for its residents and earlier this month, Smart Growth America went to Greer to help those leaders answer some of these questions.

Smart Growth America and our partner Strategic Economics led a workshop on Implementing Transit-Oriented Development. Transit-oriented development, or TOD, means building homes, offices or stores close to public transportation stations. This strategy supports the businesses along the public transportation line, and makes commuting more convenient for residents – even those who don’t ride public transportation. The one-day workshop laid out both the short and long-term benefits such a strategy would bring to Greer’s transportation and planning staff members as well as business and community leaders.

“Greer is extremely interested in smart growth solutions, as our fiscal and environmental well-being depends on having a thoughtful and reasonable pattern of growth across our region,” said Mayor Rick Danner in a statement. “In fact, we see smart growth solutions as the only responsible way to address our transportation needs. Our community faces a choice between an expensive expansion of the I-85 corridor or an enhanced transportation corridor along Highway 29.”

Technical assistance

Public support spurs progress at complete streets workshop in New Orleans


Holiday Drive in New Orleans is an recent example of complete streets work in action.

In December 2011, the City Council of New Orleans, LA, unanimously passed the city’s first complete streets ordinance. The ordinance, which encourages designers and engineers to build streets that accommodate everyone, has already gained widespread support. Now, it’s up to New Orleans leaders to actually make these changes happen.

Last month, Smart Growth America and complete streets experts Michael Moule and Michael Ronkin held a workshop for City officials in New Orleans to help make their complete streets plans a reality. Joining the officials were representatives from 12 local, regional, and state agencies as well as non-profit partners who also participated in the event.

Complete Streets Technical assistance

Planning for the future in Kimberly, ID

Smart Growth America visited Kimberly, Idaho earlier this week to help the city implement a cool planning program. Channel KMTV from Twin Falls covered the event:

The city of Kimberly is just one of 15 small towns from across the country to receive a special grant that will help make some much needed improvements.

Recently, Kimberly became the recipient of a Smart Growth America Technical Assistance Grant that is completely funded by the E.P.A.

And tonight representatives from Smart Growth America grant were at the rock creek fire station to help provide residents with tools and strategies for managing the future growth in Kimberly.

And its not only future growth, the grant sets out to preserve the character of the small town while enhancing economic competitiveness and quality of life.

“Were looking at all different kinds of things,” said City Administrator Polly Hulsey. “How we can better utilize out downtown area, planning for smart growth as far as our different mixed planning and zoning uses. Pedestrian walking friendly, all sorts of things. And then we will take those into the planning stages and hopefully be able to utilize those for future plans.”

Watch the video: Planning For The Future In Kimberly [KMVT, March 12, 2012]

Technical assistance

Northern Maine counties work toward joint regional plan

On paper, the northern Maine counties of Aroostook and Washington have everything it takes to set the stage for economic success and long-term growth: abundant resources, marvelous scenery, natural assets, a population with strong work ethics and a series of small towns with quaint downtowns. Even the frigid winter weather with its abundant snowfall is an advantage, an obvious draw for outdoor sportsmen.

What they haven’t had, though, is the chance to outline a more comprehensive and integrated regional plan, and to envision how working together could leverage their assets and provide the basis for a brighter and more sustainable future.

Technical assistance

Kimberly, Idaho aims to implement cool planning program with aid from Smart Growth America’s technical assistance

Next week, Smart Growth America will meet with staff from the City of Kimberly, ID as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program aimed at assisting the City of Kimberly implement a cool planning program.

Residents are invited to attend the meeting, which will take place on Monday, March 12, 2012 from 6–8 p.m. at the new Rock Creek Fire Station.

The presentation and discussion will highlight how Kimberly can best plan for growth while enhancing community livability and economic sustainability. Staff will discuss how Kimberly can: Get Centered (creating a vibrant and attractive town center), Grow Compact (avoiding sprawl and minimizing vehicle miles traveled) and Make Streets Complete (making city roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists).

“We are very excited to have been selected for this incredible opportunity,” said Kimberly City Administrator, Polly Hulsey. “This assistance will allow professionals from around the country to converge on Kimberly and to meet with City leaders, business owners, builders, realtors and our citizens to help us maximize our resources, while helping guide us in the right direction for our future. We invite anyone interested to attend the program to provide input and join us in planning Kimberly’s future.”

Technical assistance

Community involvement, local leadership lead Notasulga, Alabama’s comeback

“I’ve been in this town 10 years, and I love this little town,” said Juanita Syljuberget, a resident of Notasulga, Alabama, who works as a contract and grant specialist at nearby Auburn University. “There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s a quiet little place, and everyone is very nice.”

“But it’s going to dry up and go away unless we do something.”

The plight of Notasulga and its 850-some residents in rural Macon County is not unlike hundreds of other small communities across the country. Years of changing economic and development patterns limited growth opportunities, and the very nature of remote towns left local businesses and municipal services more vulnerable than their counterparts in busy urban centers.

But while the story of a “Small Town USA” grappling with tough financial decisions has been played out countless times nationwide and even in emotional books and films, there is something that sets Notasulga apart: strong local leadership.

Technical assistance