Friday, 7 May 2010

Highway officials call for balanced approach to transportation choices

The U.S. Department of Transportation has indicated that livability is among the Administration's top priorities for future transportation funding. Soon it will be up to Congress to determine how "livability" will fit into the next multiyear transportation authorization legislation.

With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this year, AASHTO released a new report, The Road to Livability, which describes how a full range of transportation options - including improvements to roadways, transit, walking, and biking - can improve livability in our communities.

"Even before livability became a buzzword, many of us in the transportation field were working hard at improving the quality of life through smart transportation choices and investments," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). "The next authorization bill must take into account the important role played by road-related investments in enhancing communities and improving the convenience of travel and access to services for all citizens."

According to the report, state DOTs are using every opportunity to tailor transportation projects to the needs of the communities they pass through. States are also focusing their efforts on rapidly expanding options for biking, walking, and transit use, as well as implementing such road-related, livable policies as revitalizing urban centers, building local economies, and preserving historic sites and scenic country roads.

"Transportation is a critical link in creating more livable communities, playing an important role in connecting affordable housing, good jobs, a safe and healthy environment, and strong schools," said Horsley. In the past ten years, Horsley noted that state DOTs have used $5.2 billion to fund bicycle and pedestrian programs across the country, almost $1.125 billion in FY 2009 alone. In 2007, states spent $13.3 billion on transit, compared to federal funding of $10.7 billion. "But what's been missing from the national dialogue on livability is what can be accomplished through road-related improvements," Horsley said.

Click Here to view the "The Road to Livability."

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