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Federal Highway Programs and Livability

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

How FHWA programs can help support your livability efforts

Livability in transportation is about leveraging the quality, location, and type of transportation facilities and services available to help achieve broad 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 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 Block Grant (STBG) Program and National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) 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:

Photo of bike share racks along a  city street.
Transportation Alternatives funds provided $1.5 million for Philadelphia’s bike share program, Indego. (City of Philadelphia) 

“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.”

-Former 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.[7]

Small towns need Safe Routes to School. Students and nearby community members of Galax City Public Schools benefited from multiple grants awarded from 2012 to 2015 totaling $571,850. Safe Routes to School infrastructure and noninfrastructure funds were used on several projects, including installing new sidewalks and crosswalks around schools and providing education on walking and bicycling to and from school. The Gala Safe Routes to School Program also was awarded the 2016 SRTS Jim Oberstar award at the fifth Safe Routes to School National Conference in Columbus, Ohio.[8]

Bridges provide 'Gateways' to Communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation replaced a severely deteriorated bridge that serves as a gateway from downtown Pittsburgh to the Oakland neighborhood. 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 community. 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] Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding Opportunities: USDOT, FTA and FHWA Funds.

[4] MassCleanDiesel 'Clean Air for Kids' Program.

[5] FHWA, Blueprint Jordan River.

[6] FHWA 2015 Recreational Trails Program Annual Report:

[7] League of American Bicyclists, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

[8] Safe Routes to School.

HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
Updated: 8/5/2016
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