As 2018 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of the most popular content from Smart Growth America and our various programs over the past year. If you’ve appreciated some of this work or our writing about it, make a tax-deductible end of year gift to help support our work in 2019!
Transportation for America
Effective Complete Streets policy implementation requires a process for exceptions to providing for all modes in each project. Exceptions should follow the Federal Highway Administration’s guidance on accommodating bicycle and pedestrian travel and identified best practices frequently used in existing Complete Streets policies. The Coalition believes these exceptions are appropriate with limited potential to weaken the policy.
With Congress finally wrapping up their five-year transportation bill in late 2015, the focus is fully on states when it comes to policy and funding for transportation. Our transportation initiative, Transportation for America, is bringing its second Capital Ideas conference to Sacramento, CA this November.
Our Transportation for America program works with cities across the country to create transportation networks that support economic prosperity.
New technologies play an increasingly important role in this field and today we’re excited to announce a new partnership between Transportation for America and Sidewalk Labs to support cities in this important work.
The Federal Highway Administration made two big moves this last week to clear the way for states, metro areas, and local communities to use federal dollars to design safer, more complete streets.
Both of these updates are great news for anyone advocating for streets that better meet the needs of everyone that uses them, as well as better serving the goals of the surrounding community. FHWA deserves a big round of applause for making these changes.
If you are working on a local transportation project and your DOT or some other agency cites vague federal rules when refusing to build a safe and complete street, show them the FHWA memo below. Their guidance makes it extremely clear: there’s wide latitude to design streets to best suit local needs, and old regulations that treat all roads like highways have been rolled back.
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.
Smart Growth America — along with our signature transportation program Transportation for America — is pleased to announce today the hiring of Ben Stone as director of arts and culture, a new position designed to lead the organization’s broad efforts to help communities across the country better integrate arts, culture, and creative placemaking into neighborhood revitalization, equitable development, and transportation planning efforts.
For the past four-and-a-half years, Ben has served as the executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, a dynamic cultural district in Baltimore, MD. In that role, he helped make Station North a place that supports artists and attracts visitors and residents alike to the lively, creative community surrounding Baltimore’s Penn Station. (Station North was profiled briefly in Transportation for America’s recent online guidebook to creative placemaking, The Scenic Route.)
“Including the arts in neighborhood development can create well-rounded places that are powerful catalysts for smart, new, inclusive growth,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Ben has an incredible wealth of experience in this field, and we look forward to helping him share it with the local elected leaders, real estate developers, and advocates making neighborhoods great across the country.”
“We’re thrilled to bring someone of Ben’s caliber on board to help lead this emerging area of integrating local arts and culture to produce better projects and places through a better process,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “He’s a respected expert and leader who has on-the-ground experience with creative placemaking, an emerging approach to planning and building transportation projects that taps local culture to produce better projects through a better process.”
For those of you in the DC area next week (including those of you planning to attend the Transportation Research Board conference), join us on Tuesday for the national release of a new academic study on the economic benefits resulting from smart investments in bus rapid transit. Join us next week on Tuesday, January 12th … Continued
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.
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.
We might not have trash-powered flying cars in 2015, but we CAN invest in a transportation system of tomorrow. Congress is considering the next federal transportation bill this week — tell them to make it a forward-looking one.
The U.S. House of Representatives introduced their proposal for a new federal transportation bill last week, and Representatives will mark up and vote on the bill in committee tomorrow.
This gives us a small window of time to improve the bill as it stands, and we need your help. Tell your Representative to make the next transportation bill a forward-looking one.