We at MPC have been very encouraged by the announcement of the 6 federal livability principles and excited to see how USDOT, EPA, and HUD are finally going to be walking the same walk, singing the same song, and coordinating efforts. We got so excited we even offered a seventh principle to include the conservation of natural resources!
USDOT recently committed $527 million to help advance the goals of the interagency partnership. A good chunk of that money will go towards efforts that improve local and regional planning initiatives. By means of a competitive grant process, these dollars will reward projects that will provide mobility, promote equitable and affordable housing, and invest in the local economy. The funding puts the much needed ‘skin in the game’ to truly advance the goals set forth by the livability principles.
Often times, communities get frustrated with lengthy planning processes and lack of action. We all want ribbon cuttings. But what’s even more frustrating is tearing up a street or sidewalk scheduled for repairs and because of a lack of planning, we miss opportunities to include bike paths, landscaping, curb cuts, or even upgrade utilities. This wastes time and money. When building new roads or planning for new transit, we’d like to think it’s a road or bus to somewhere. Coordinating with local housing and development plans helps to create a more effective city and build a comprehensive and inclusive community. Rather than only focus on transportation needs, this interagency partnership recognizes that all levels of our cities’ infrastructure are integrated units and as a whole, needs better coordination.
The T4America campaign released a platform calling for better integration of transportation modes, an increase in pedestrian, bicycle and transit options in communities, modernizing the system we’ve already got in place, and evaluation of how our limited transportation dollars are being spent. USDOT’s funding commitment to the interagency partnership is very much in sync with T4America’s platform.
Everyone values the same things. We want to live in good communities where our kids can walk to school safely, in places where we’re not forced to be stuck wasting time in traffic for our daily commute, and can have easy access to great restaurants, grocery stores with fresh food, and other local amenities. I’m glad to see we’ve got some dollars now to really bring these dreams to life.