The U.S. Department of Transportation has indicated that livability is among the Administration's top priorities for future transportation funding. Soon it will be up to Congress to determine how "livability" will fit into the next multiyear transportation authorization legislation.
As the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, AASHTO is today releasing a new report, The Road to Livability, which describes how a full range of transportation options – including improvements to roadways, transit, walking, and biking – can improve livability in our communities.
"Even before livability became a buzzword, many of us in the transportation field were working hard at improving the quality of life through smart transportation choices and investments," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). "The next authorization bill must take into account the important role played by road-related investments in enhancing communities and improving the convenience of travel and access to services for all citizens."
According to the report, state DOTs are using every opportunity to tailor transportation projects to the needs of the communities they pass through. States are also focusing their efforts on rapidly expanding options for biking, walking, and transit use, as well as implementing such road-related, livable policies as revitalizing urban centers, building local economies, and preserving historic sites and scenic country roads.
"Transportation is a critical link in creating more livable communities, playing an important role in connecting affordable housing, good jobs, a safe and healthy environment, and strong schools," said Horsley. In the past ten years, Horsley noted that state DOTs have used $5.2 billion to fund bicycle and pedestrian programs across the country, almost $1.125 billion in FY 2009 alone. In 2007, states spent $13.3 billion on transit, compared to federal funding of $10.7 billion. "But what's been missing from the national dialogue on livability is what can be accomplished through road-related improvements," Horsley said.
The Road to Livability offers a "baker's dozen" of techniques state DOTs can use to improve the livability of their communities. They include:
- Creating good-paying jobs
- Stimulating the broader economy
- Investing in green projects
- Revitalizing a small town's Main Street
- Transforming urban streets into neighborhood centers
- Preserving scenic country roads
- Creating smart transportation solutions for tight times
- Enhancing neighborhoods through the enhancement program
- Making design responsive to community needs
- Integrating transportation and land use
- Using scenic byways to attract tourists and support local economies
- Promoting walking and biking
- Supporting travel and tourism
For state examples of livable projects or to see the full report, go to www.transportation.org and click on "The Road to Livability" button at the top right. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aashtospeaks.