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FHWA's Fostering Livable Communities Newsletter - January 2014

Volume 2, Number 4

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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Fostering Livable Communities Newsletter is intended to provide transportation professionals with real-world examples of ways that transportation investments promote livability, such as providing access to good jobs, affordable housing, quality schools, and safer roads. To access additional tools and resources, or to learn more about FHWA's Livability Initiative, please visit FHWA's Livability website, or visit the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) website. To read past issues of the newsletter, visit To subscribe to the newsletter, visit GovDelivery.

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Southern Nevada Strong Community Engagement Initiative

Brittany L Markarian, Public Information Specialist
Southern Nevada Strong - Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition

Figure 1 shows school children reviewing land use and development concepts at a public meeting at the Downtown Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas.

Figure 1:School children review
land use and development concepts
at a public meeting at the
Downtown Boys & Girls Club
of Las Vegas.

Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) is a regional planning project working to build a foundation for long-term economic success and livability by better integrating transportation, housing options, and job opportunities throughout Southern Nevada. The project is funded by a $3.5 million Sustainable Communities Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides the resources to conduct in-depth research and community engagement efforts to analyze the issues facing Southern Nevada.

More than 150 elected officials, and business and community leaders attended the project kickoff last spring to learn more about the project and get involved. Launching straight into outreach following the kickoff, SNS participated in more than 35 community events, presentations, and open meetings from Boulder City to North Las Vegas. At these events, SNS staff presented information on the project and collected information on community concerns and priorities via 725 iPad surveys. The survey was also made available on the SNS website, through social media, and e-newsletter communications. These efforts were coupled with a statistically valid telephone survey. This initial phase of outreach showed that Southern Nevadans value good weather, access to the outdoors, and a high quality of life. It also identified areas of improvement or concern, such as improving K-12 education, creating more jobs, and attracting new business.

The project team conducted the next outreach phase between July and October 2013, which consisted of 15 open houses across the region. Open houses provided:

During the open houses, SNS utilized a cutting-edge community input tool called MetroQuest. This survey tool allowed for more in-depth feedback, priority ranking, and interactive visuals. SNS also made the survey available online and promoted it via social media and e-mail. SNS continued its outreach efforts at more than 50 community events, meetings, speaking engagements, and briefings with elected officials, reaching nearly 2,500 local residents. Key findings of this community outreach included:

The final phase of community outreach, will roll out in early 2014 and focus heavily on the opportunity sites identified for further evaluation. The community chose these areas to explore the benefits of potential opportunity sites throughout the region. Interactive scenario planning software and grassroots community kiosks are being used as well as telephone town halls and site-specific open houses.

For more information, visit:

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New Accessibility Guidance - Curb Ramps, Pedestrian Facilities, and Outdoor Developed Areas

Candace J Groudine, Senior Policy and Regulatory Specialist
FHWA - Office of Civil Rights

Christopher B Douwes, Community Planner,
Transportation Alternatives Program and Recreational Trails Program
FHWA - Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty

David Daddio, Community Planner
U.S. DOT - Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Title II of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that State and local governments ensure that persons with disabilities have access to pedestrian routes in the public right-of-way. Design guidelines, which are developed by the U.S. Access Board, have important implications for all types of nonmotorized transportation facilities, including sidewalks and curb ramps, as well as shared use paths and outdoor developed areas. These guidelines apply to various issues, including access for blind pedestrians at street crossings, wheelchair access to on-street parking, and various constraints posed by space limitations, roadway design practices, slope, and terrain. These guidelines are triggered by the construction of new facilities or alteration of existing facilities.

In June 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) and U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) issued joint Title II technical assistance clarifying policies on the provision of curb ramps when roads are resurfaced. Also, the U.S. Access Board is developing new guidelines that apply to pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way and plans to include shared use paths within these guidelines. Lastly, in September 2013, the U.S. Access Board released Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968. A brief synopsis of each document is provided below:

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MassDOT Healthy Transportation Policy Directive

Logan Nash, Community Planner
U.S. DOT - Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

In September, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced a Healthy Transportation Policy Directive that integrates agency goals for public and environmental health into project development. The directive requires that all State transportation projects increase opportunities for walking, bicycling, and transit. MassDOT will review current projects to ensure they enhance these "healthy transportation" options. MassDOT's directive is a notable example of an agency integrating livability considerations with its own goals for health and environmental sustainability.

The new Healthy Transportation Policy Directive is part of MassDOT's wider "GreenDOT" initiative, which encompasses three related State goals: reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support smart growth development, and promote the healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling, and transit. MassDOT developed the original GreenDOT Policy Directive in 2010 and the GreenDOT Implementation Plan in 2012. The Healthy Transportation Policy Directive implements a key performance goal from the GreenDOT Implementation Plan: to triple the combined mode share of walking, bicycling, and transit in Massachusetts by 2030. MassDOT also coordinates with other State agencies through the Massachusetts Healthy Transportation Compact.

In addition to the project development requirement, the directive also includes other policies that advance the agency's healthy transportation goal. For example, MassDOT will enhance safety for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit users by reviewing cluster sites where many accidents occur, especially in low -ncome communities and minority communities. The agency will then develop projects to address safety issues at these sites.

The MassDOT directive also outlines the connections between transportation facilities and surrounding land uses in the communities they serve. All MassDOT facilities, such as roads and transit stations, will be designed to consider nearby existing and planned land uses and will include design features that enhance nonmotorized and transit options.

Under the directive, MassDOT will:

MassDOT and its partners are also featured in the upcoming white paper from the FHWA Office of Planning on State DOTs that are incorporating public health into their transportation planning and other activities.

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FHWA Texas Division Hosts Green Streets Workshop in Arlington, Texas

Kirk D Fauver, Environmental and Transportation Planning Coordinator
FHWA - Texas Division

Figure 2 shows participants at the Green Streets Workshop in Arlington, Texas.

Figure 2: Participants at the Green Streets Workshop
in Arlington, Texas. (Photo credit: Kirk Fauver,
FHWA Texas Division)

The FHWA Texas Division in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 (Dallas) hosted a Green Streets Workshop in Arlington, Texas at the offices of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) on September 25, 2013. This free one-day event was sponsored by the Region 6 PSC.

Nearly 100 participants from the private sector, academia, and public organizations learned about EPA's Green Infrastructure Program and storm water runoff protection efforts, and the American Society of Civil Engineers Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure green rating program. In addition, participants learned about best management practices from real-world examples of green street programs implemented in Houston, Texas; the city of Mesquite; and the University of Texas' Green at College Park, and Dallas's Urban Reserve development.

To download materials from this workshop, please visit: (look under "View Past Meetings and Events"). For additional information, please contact Kirk D. Fauver of the FHWA Texas Division at (512) 536-5952 or e-mail at:


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Improving Access to a National Park for Low-Income and Minority Populations through Bicycle Sharing

Jared Fijalkowski, Community Planner
U.S. DOT - Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Across the country, public lands like National Parks are looking for ways to improve walking, bicycling, and transit access to recreational opportunities for underserved populations, including minority and low-income neighborhoods. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS) partnered with Nice Ride Minnesota, the Twin Cities' bicycle share system, to expand the system and provide a means for minority and low-income populations in north Minneapolis to access the MISS and its many destinations without the use of a car.

The MISS, administered by the National Park Service (NPS), spans 72 miles on both sides of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota. The park features numerous State and regional destinations, as well as a 72-mile stretch of the 3,000 mile Mississippi River National Millenium Trail, a multiuse path that runs the length of the River from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The park attracts over 33 million visitors per year.

The bicycle share system is part of the overall effort by the MISS to implement an Alternative Transportation System (ATS) to enhance the visitor experience and improve access without adding congestion or pollution. Since the MISS is in the middle of a major urban area, one challenge is that no single transportation system serves all visitors or connects area residents to the River and its major destinations. In part to address this issue, the ATS includes an expansion of Nice Ride within and near the MISS, including minority and low-income neighborhoods.

Launched in June 2010 with 700 bicycles and 65 stations, Nice Ride has since expanded to over 1,600 bicycles and 175 stations. By mid-2013, riders had taken over 700,000 rides on Nice Ride bicycles, reflecting the Twin Cities' strong bicycling culture. Following a successful partnership in 2012, when the NPS funded the installation of 30 Nice Ride stations near the Mississippi River, NPS partnered with Nice Ride again in 2013 to install an additional 17 stations along the River. The MISS and Nice Ride decided to locate these stations in the traditionally underserved urban neighborhoods of north Minneapolis, where access to the River can be a challenge. This provided these neighborhoods with access to parks, trails, and green space; encouraged more people to get outdoors and recreate close to home; and connected urban neighborhoods.

The new bicycle share stations are located along seven miles of the Mississippi River and form a network of stations in and near high-density areas of underserved communities to facilitate multi-modal access to the River. This bicycle share system expansion is helping to ensure that all visitors and area residents have access to the MISS without using a car. NPS expects this expansion of Nice Ride to serve as a "door opener" to active transportation, promoting economic vitality and demonstrating that healthy recreation is an important part of a vibrant, urban National Park.

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Spotlight on Region 5

Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) reported multiple livability-related updates for 2013. Here are some recent highlights from the region:

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Announcements/New Resources

Updated: 12/7/2015
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