Safe streets provisions in FAST Act represent a huge step forward in the effort to strengthen local communities

Late last night, Congress passed a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Notably, the bill requires all design for National Highway System roadways to take into account access for all modes of transportation. It also makes NACTO’s Urban Design Guide one of the standards for when the U.S. Department of Transportation designs roads, and it permits local governments to use their own adopted design guides if they are the lead project sponsor, even if it differs from state guidelines.

Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, issued the following statement in response.

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?

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.

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

couple-walking-action

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.

Speaking out for smart growth issues leads to a better transportation bill in the Senate

Yesterday, the Senate finally passed its version of a six-year federal transportation bill. As you likely know by now, this bill will have a huge impact on how communities across America grow in the coming years.

We asked you to speak out about a number of issues related to this bill over the last few weeks. And right now, I want to say thank you for stepping up.

Many of the crucial provisions we championed—the Safe Streets Act, TIFIA financing for transit-oriented development, and protection of the TIGER grants program at the U.S. Department of Transportation—were included in the final version of the bill.

Senate transportation bill expands financing for transit-oriented development

Senators Schatz, Markey and Merkley champion provision to support investment in neighborhoods near transit

The Senate passed its final six-year transportation reauthorization bill today, and included in the bill is a provision to expand the eligibility of transit-oriented development (TOD) projects for federal TIFIA financing. The provision would also expand financing for infrastructure projects that promote transit ridership, walkability, or increased private investment.

“If you took a bus or train to work today, you know how convenient it is to live and work near a transit stop,” said Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS. “Transit-oriented development makes day-to-day life easier for millions of Americans. It’s also the backbone of regional economies across the country. The Senate’s bill will make creating new TOD projects easier, and will give more Americans the option to live and work near transit while also supporting economic growth nationwide.”

Senate transportation bill includes landmark provision for safer streets

Senators Schatz, Heller, Franken, and Udall champion provision to address national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities

The Senate voted on its final six-year transportation reauthorization bill today, and included in the bill was a landmark provision to make streets across the country safer for everyone who uses them. The Safe Streets amendment would require states and metropolitan planning organizations to plan and design for the safety needs of all users—regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation—in all federally-funded projects.

“America is facing an epidemic of pedestrian deaths,” said Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “This bill will make a Complete Streets approach routine in federal projects. That means streets will be safer for Americans of all ages and abilities, no matter how they travel.”

Complete Streets, TOD, and TIGER all included in Senate Commerce Committee’s transportation bill

Yesterday the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved its six-year transportation bill, the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1732).

The bill includes dozens of transportation provisions, but we were watching three in particular: the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act (S. 1626) and the Safe Streets amendment, both of which we hoped to see included, and a proposal to narrow the scope of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER grants, which we hoped would be cut.