USDOT wants to make it easier to find funding for innovative transportation projects

build-america-bureauTransportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at the launch of the Build America Bureau last month. Photo via USDOT.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) offers a number of different grant and loan programs for innovative transportation projects. But navigating the application process for these programs—or even knowing exactly what types of projects are eligible under each one—can be complicated.

To help cities and state navigate and better utilize all these programs, last month USDOT launched the the Build America Bureau, a one-stop shop for information about how to apply for federal transportation grants and loans. As Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained at the launch, the Bureau will “streamline credit opportunities and grants more quickly and transparently, while providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring.”

In wake of Senate action, Representatives Pallone and Tonko introduce House version of Brownfields authorization bill

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EPA Brownfields funds helped transform the site of a former tin manufacturing and can factory into a mixed-use office and retail hub in Canton, Baltimore, MD. Photo via EPA.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill to authorize and improve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields program. Now the House of Representatives is moving to do the same.

Last week Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) introduced the Brownfields Authorization Increase Act of 2016 (H.R. 5782). The legislation would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to enhance EPA’s Brownfields program and include it as a formal part of the federal budget.

Senate passes bill to help communities redevelop brownfield sites, urges House of Representatives to do the same

quik-trip-greenvilleEPA Brownfields funds helped transform the site of a former auto body repair shop into a neighborhood market in an underserved community in Greenville, SC. Photo via.

With sweeping bipartisan support, last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to help communities across the country clean up and redevelop contaminated land. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), one of the champions of the bill, urged his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to do the same.

Senate EPW Committee votes to reauthorize EPA's Brownfields program

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The EPA Brownfields program helped to remediate a former railroad line in Greenville, SC. Today that line is the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the backbone of an extensive pedestrian and bicycling trail system in the county. Photo via Flickr.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields program has helped hundreds of communities clean up and redevelop vacant and contaminated land known as brownfields. The program has not been an official part of the federal budget for several years, however. Last week the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) voted to change that.

On May 18, the EPW Committee approved the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015 (BUILD Act), which would reauthorize the EPA Brownfields program through 2018. Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator Edward Markey introduced the Act on June 2, 2015. Last week the bill passed on voice vote without amendment.

Ask USDOT to #MakeMeCount this Bike to Work Day

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Don and his co-pilot asked USDOT to #MakeMeCount last week. Photo by @KostelecPlan.

This Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their helmets and take to the streets for National Bike to Work Day, an annual event promoting active commuting options and safer streets.

Will you be joining the event? If so, make your ride even more impactful by telling USDOT to #MakeMeCount when it comes to measuring how well a street works.

Five things to read and share during #InfrastructureWeek

This morning kicked off this year’s Infrastructure Week, a chance for political leaders and advocates to talk about how to make our nation’s roads, bridges, sidewalks, water, and digital infrastructure better for everyone.

Looking for ways to get involved? Here are five things to read and share this week:

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1. Two big moves for safer, more complete streets

Federal Highway Administration has a lot of influence over our nation’s infrastructure, and last week the agency made two big moves to clear the way for states, metro areas, and local communities to use federal dollars to design safer, more complete streets. Read more >>

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2. Mapping structurally deficient bridges

Do you drive across a bridge each day? There’s a good chance it’s structurally deficient. That’s according to The Fix We’re In For, our report about bridge conditions across the country. Find structurally deficient bridges in your area with our interactive map or get an overview of the national findings with this infographic.

House subcommittee examines the successes of and potential improvements to EPA Brownfields program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Brownfields program helps communities clean up and redevelop contaminated land and put it back into productive use. EPA Brownfield grants and assistance have helped turn former industrial sites into new parks, office buildings, performing arts centers, and more in communities across the country.

Although the program gets funding from Congress each year, it is not an official part of the federal budget. On April 21, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing about the program, including what about it currently works well, what could be improved, and how the program helps communities handle issues like environmental liability concerns, financial barriers, cleanup considerations, and reuse planning.

Tell USDOT that #WeAllCount

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If someone takes the bus to work, and no one is around to count them, do they still matter?

We say yes, but the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to disagree.

Last week, USDOT issued a draft rule that will govern how states and metro areas will have to measure and address congestion, along with freight movement and emissions. These new requirements will help measure what America’s transportation dollars are actually buying us—which is great. 

However, the rule as it is currently written would measure success in outdated ways. Using old measures will lead to the continued use of outdated strategies, such as prioritizing fast driving speeds above all other modes of transportation and their associated benefits.