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The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability: State of the Practice Summary

Conclusion and Next Steps

The research demonstrates that livability principles are being incorporated and embraced in both transportation policy and project implementation in many areas of the country. Livability concepts appear aligned with current trends in community planning relative to creating more efficient land use patterns supportive of walking, bicycling, and transit as viable forms of transportation. States with a history of strong statewide land use planning appear to be the furthest along in adopting approaches that incorporate livability principles, such as tying transportation policies to broader community sustainability and livability goals. States with a strong local land use tradition have developed policies to integrate planning for transportation, land use, environment, and economic development. At the local level, implementation of community-based livability projects is geographically dispersed across the U.S., and often tied to strong local visions. There are several examples of MPOs facilitating regional discussions about livability. In some notable examples, regional agencies are leading the charge by helping communities to better align the prioritization of transportation investments in support of regional growth visions, broader community goals, and implementation policies.

While FHWA's Livability Initiative and related Partnership programs are still in the formative stages, significant results are already evident across the country. DOT is aligning a number of FHWA and FTA regular funding programs and special allocations (such as two rounds of TIGER grants) to focus on livability outcomes. HUD grantees have formed collaborative partnerships - including MPOs, State, and local transportation agencies - to develop and implement sustainable communities plans. FTA and HUD have jointly funded grants for coordinated planning and funding of transit and housing development. EPA is continuing to research and develop guidance on performance measures and related data requirements to monitor the effectiveness of coordinated investments in livability and sustainable communities. These Federal activities support a variety of regional and local efforts across the country - which incorporate collaborative process, interagency coordination, and integrated planning approaches.

While there are many notable success stories, there are some areas in need of additional focus:

Next Steps

Moving forward with implementing livability initiatives requires an "all-hands-on-deck" approach. At the project level, local and regional agencies are often best suited to lead interagency teams. Federal and State agencies can coordinate programs, funding, and technical assistance to support local and regional initiatives. The Livability in Transportation Guidebook includes several examples and recommended implementation strategies at different levels: State and regional; corridor and subarea-level; project-level; and operational and funding strategies (see Chapter 7 and Conclusion).96 Some of the more effective - and achievable - next steps might include:

One overarching initiative could be to identify the elements of integrated planning processes and products that can be used to effectively coordinate efforts across agencies, jurisdictions, and issues. A model framework for a comprehensive livability plan at the regional scale could combine the traditional elements of local comprehensive plans and regional long-range transportation plans. Coordinating the planning time horizons, public involvement, and technical analysis conducted for a variety of required plans provides an opportunity to better integrate regional transportation, land use, housing, economic development and environmental planning to achieve desired community outcomes and create more livable, sustainable development patterns. FHWA could develop a model comprehensive livability plan (or "how-to" guidance from a transportation perspective) that could help regional transportation agencies understand appropriate roles, responsibilities, and processes to deliver more integrated plans. It would be also beneficial to identify strategies for how best to coordinate with other Federal programs such as the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program to advance livability goals at the regional and local levels. The upcoming FHWA regional livability workshops will provide a forum to explore these issues and solutions, and to develop approaches that will be usable throughout the transportation industry.

Updated: 01/03/2014
HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
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