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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
What does "Smart Growth" mean to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)?
The FHWA believes that "smart growth" is a concept best supported by a set of policies and programs intended to protect and preserve valuable natural and cultural resources. "Smart growth" also encourages economic development in targeted locations. While transportation is not specifically mentioned in that working definition, it is important to note that transportation affects land use just like affordable housing, good schools, and low crime rates.
What does "smart growth mean for transportation?
It can mean:
Establishing state and local land use strategies to increase population and housing densities and make transit more viable,
Managing and operating existing highway, transit, and other transportation modes to maintain or improve performance for each mode without adversely affecting neighborhoods or urban centers,
Knitting transportation improvement projects and public/private investments so that they merge as seamlessly as possible into the community,
Supporting the provision of mixed use development so that transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and ferry boats are viable options to driving,
Accommodating the flow of freight throughout the country so that the economy can continue to grow.
It does not mean:
Pitting transit or any other mode against highways. We acknowledge the fact that it is impractical to completely build our way out of congestion in our most congested metropolitan areas. But that does not mean that we think that new roads and improvements to the existing road network should be eliminated in favor of transit projects only. It is not an issue of highways vs. transit. It is an issue of providing a balanced intermodal transportation system that allows for the efficient and economical movement of people and goods. In some areas that may mean more transit and in other areas it may entail significant roadway improvements. The point is that it is up to State and local officials to decide how best to address their unique set of circumstances and it is FHWA's role to help them once they have made that decision.
To see how FHWA programs can assist states, local governments, and others in addressing smart growth and related issues, please go to