|Opening Session: The Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program as Viewed from the U.S. Department of Transportation
Dr. Walter Sutton, Deputy Administrator, Federal Highway Administration
Mortimer Downey, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
|The Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program (TCSP) is an important component of the Administration's Livability Initiative, which helps communities across America grow in ways that ensure a better quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth. The Department of Transportation's (DOT) role in this initiative is to link transportation with safety concerns, land-use development, environmental quality, the needs of disadvantaged populations, and economic development into an integrated approach to community livability. The TCSP Program supports this role by providing seed money for innovative projects that incorporate these varied concerns into transportation planning. Speakers in this session discussed the importance of the TCSP Program to the DOT and how the program is helping to support the administration's livability goals. |
Dr. Walter Sutton introduced both the overall workshop and this particular session. Dr. Sutton noted that the TCSP program supports the Clinton-Gore administration's high priority of supporting livable communities, and thanked attendees for their continued interest and participation in the program. Building on the successes of the first two years of the program, the purpose of this workshop is to bring together current grantees, grant applicants, and federal agencies to exchange information; to learn how to leverage resources and engage partners; and to discuss what the future of communities across the nation will be who are actively pursuing smart growth initiatives. The workshop also introduces the FY 2000 grantees and provides them with a chance to present their work. The workshop includes four concurrent tracks focusing on best practices, project evaluation, financial resources, and participation techniques, as well as panel discussions and networking sessions.
Mortimer Downey spoke about the importance of the TCSP program to the Department of Transportation. There has been a high level of interest in the TCSP program since its initiation in 1998. The nation is increasingly realizing the need to fully evaluate the consequences of transportation decisions made today. Traffic congestion and air quality are major challenges that are now requiring solutions in mid-size as well as larger cities. At the same time, building and expanding highways is not always the best solution or the only solution. Citizens are demanding consideration of the environmental and other impacts of transportation projects, and are demanding Smarter Growth.
The TCSP Program, created under TEA-21, responds to the need to help make communities more livable. TCSP is one element of the administration's livability initiative, which is strengthening and improving coordination among current programs as well as creating new programs. TCSP represents a multi-agency effort as well as a collaborative effort within "One DOT." While FHWA administers the program, the setting of policy and direction has been a joint effort among FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, Research and Special Programs Administration, and the Office of the Secretary.
"TCSP is helping to change the way transportation decisions are made," said Mr. Downey. Yet the federal government cannot by itself create more livable communities. State, counties, local governments, and the private sector need to share in the decision-making as well as the costs. Communities know their own needs best. Through TCSP, communities are sharing their best practices so that other communities can benefit from their experience. The federal government can inform decisions and provide resources, but cannot dictate the form of future growth.
TCSP has proven to be extremely popular, with applications far outpacing available funding in both FY 1999 and FY 2000. In 1999, 524 applications were submitted requesting $400 million, nearly 30 times the available funding of $13.1 million. Overall funding was increased to $31 million in FY 2000, allowing 85 projects - just over one-fourth of all applicants - to receive funding. DOT is currently awaiting the outcome of the FY 2001 budget process and allocation decisions before finalizing the 2001 grants. DOT hopes that additional discretionary funds will be made available to the program in FY 2001 through 2003.
Participants in this workshop are hearing from peers about how they are tackling projects and creating partnerships. For example, Hartford's "Picture It Better Together" is developing best practices for circulation and land use patterns in urban suburban, and rural communities. The project includes an extensive array of public and private participants. The Envision Utah project is creating a process for planning and managing rapid growth. The results, which are based on extensive community feedback and participation, could be a model for many regions. Houston's Main Street Corridor project is building partnerships among public agencies, private groups, and nonprofits as a vital component of planning process. Many other projects are equally interesting and equally relevant.
Other DOT programs are also relevant to the goals of the TCSP program and livability initiative. These include Transportation Enhancements, Congestion Management and Air Quality, bicycle and pedestrian programs, and flexible use of transportation resources. The DOT looks forward to sharing information about these programs and about the metropolitan and statewide planning processes. Programs of federal partner agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, can also be helpful. Finally, this workshop demonstrates the power of bringing people together to exchange information and success stories. Participants are encouraged to meet, talk, and build networks. Thanks for joining us.