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Federal Highway Programs and Livability

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How FHWA programs can help support your livability efforts

Two people crossing a downtown street in Kirkland, Washington, with a well-marked crosswalk, curb extensions, and a median.

Federal programs support roadway, transit, walking, and biking improvements, to make it easier to get around - connecting people, business, and communities (H.B. Rue)

Rain gardens in Lansing MI clean stormwater and improve the streetscape.

Rain gardens in Lansing MI clean stormwater and improve the streetscape (H.B. Rue).

Livability in transportation is about leveraging the quality, location, and type of transportation facilities and services available to help achieve broader community goals such as access to a variety of jobs, community services, affordable housing, quality schools, and safe streets.1 Livability is an outcome of a multimodal transportation planning process that involves nontraditional partners and advances policies and projects that integrate transportation solutions into broader community goals. FHWA funding programs provide opportunities to incorporate livability principles and to better align projects with local interests and needs.

FHWA programs that support livability. Within the Federal-Aid Highway Program, there are several major funding programs that support a broad range of livability-related projects.2 Surface Transportation Program (STP) and National Highway System (NHS) funds can be used flexibly to advance projects that promote livability. Metropolitan Planning (PL) and State Planning and Research (SPR) funds can be used for livability-related planning, research, training, and technical assistance. Bicycle and pedestrian projects are eligible for most Federal-Aid highway and transit program funds.3 Other programs that have been used to support livability include:

"Livability is investing in a way that recognizes the unique character of each community. The era of one-size-fits-all transportation projects must give way to one where preserving and enhancing unique community characteristics, be they rural or urban, is a primary mission of our work rather than an afterthought."
-USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood

Success Stories

Transportation choices help clears the air. Fort Collins, Colorado used CMAQ funds to create a bicycle library (bike sharing). Members of the public borrow bicycles at no cost from two locations. The City estimated that the project would reduce carbon monoxide by 759 kilograms in the first year of operation. Within the first month, the library was lending bicycles at capacity, with more than 3,000 bicycles lent out since April 2008.6

Small towns need Safe Routes to School. Students in Brevard, NC, a 7,000-person community, will benefit from the Gallimore Road multi-use path to be constructed with a $250,000 Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant awarded in 2008. The one-mile, 10-foot wide path will connect Brevard Elementary and Brevard High School, while linking them to the Transylvania County Boys and Girls Club, several residential communities, and a medical facility. It will also connect to a bicycle network, and is close to nearby Pisgah National Forest.7

Bridges provide "gateways" to Communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation replaced a severely deteriorated bridge that serves as a gateway from downtown Pittsburgh to Oakland. The Boulevard of the Allies is one of the main roadway entrances into Oakland which is the region's premier medical, educational and cultural center as well as a vibrant city neighborhood. Oakland is not only a destination but it also serves as a through corridor between downtown and the eastern neighborhoods and suburbs.


1 FHWA, The Role of FHWA Programs In Livability State of the Practice Summary, 2011.

2 FHWA Livability Initiative. Leveraging the Partnership.

3 FHWA and FTA Funds That May be Used for Bicycle and Pedestrian Activities.

4 FHWA, Blueprint Jordan River.

5 American Trails, 2010.

6 League of American Bicyclists, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.


HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
Updated: 10/20/2015
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