LOCUS, Smart Growth America’s coalition of real estate developers and investors, met in Washington DC this week to push for improvements in the federal transportation bill that will help create more walkable communities across the country.
During the three-day event, LOCUS also recognized two Senators who have championed legislation that would support great neighborhoods and strong local economies across the country.
“It is with great pleasure that we honor Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Warner with the first annual LOCUS Leadership Award,” said LOCUS President Chris Leinberger at a ceremony Wednesday evening. “They have been integral in strengthening our efforts to build transit-oriented and walkable development projects across the country.”
Senator Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Warner (D-VA) have proposed changes to the transportation bill that would create a credit enhancement for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects, an essential component of walkable communities. Bennet and Warner’s proposal would reduce obstacles to TOD construction by amending the Federal Highway Administration’s highly successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provides federal credit assistance to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance. By making TOD projects eligible for TIFIA loans, real estate developers will be able to jumpstart projects and make the kinds of transportation investments they need to make today to get exciting projects up and running.
“We both decided early on we were going to take on this cause in trying to make sure that we put in the place the right incentives so this type of development can be done in a 21st century, livable community way,” Warner said. “We still need to make sure we can get some of the financing with TIFIA and we are still working on that on the transportation bill. We’ve got to hang in on this. We need to see if we can do more from the federal level to be supportive of these kind of efforts.”
“Mark and I were able to work together on this important piece of legislation. The people we represent don’t live in silos and they’re thinking about their communities as organic places. I think transit oriented development is the best example of that,” Bennet said. “We are going to continue to work until the TIFIA component of this becomes a reality.”
LOCUS also recognized on Wednesday Steering Committee Member Forest City Enterprises, a longstanding leader in the field of transit-oriented development, for the company’s work promoting walkable communities.
“The work that Forest City and Al Ratner have done in Denver has been extraordinary,” Senator Bennet said. “Transforming Stapleton Airport into one of the most outstanding and livable areas in the United States.”
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) also attended the ceremony to congratulate Senators Bennet and Warner.
“I’m happy to be here to support you and keep up the great work,” she said. “The vast majority of Americans want the government to be in partnership with the private sector to build the kind of communities that add value, wealth, comfort, and joy to the people we represent.”
“We can’t survive and grow our economy without very smart planning which helps everyone,” Landrieu said.
To learn more about Bennet and Warner’s proposal, TOD’s positive economic impact and to speak out in favor of this important amendment to the federal transportation bill, click here.