Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DOT and the National League of Cities, Natural partners for a livable future

Repost from USDOT:

DOT and the National League of Cities,
Natural partners for a livable future

I had so many different things to talk about with members of the National League of Cities yesterday, it was difficult to not keep them in the room all afternoon.
It would have been easy to simply thank NLC members for their support of DOT's Recovery Act efforts.
It would have been easy to explain how our high-speed rail program offers many cities, big and small, a great opportunity to connect to regional transportation networks.
And it would have been easy to tout the Obama Administration's DOT-EPA-HUD Partnership for Sustainable Communities and our efforts to create livable communities that offer a range of transportation and housing options.
I could have just stopped with what we'd accomplished in the last year, but these folks came to talk about the route ahead. And I wanted to share the promise of what we can achieve through new tools DOT has made available to municipal planners.
It all begins with our TIGER program. Because, with TIGER we're not just talking about awarding winners a pile of money; we're talking about changing the rules of the game.
Speaking2For the first time, the application process for these discretionary grants allowed cities to apply directly to DOT for funding. And these grants were open to the kind of multi-modal projects we simply aren't allowed to fund through our traditional, segmented programs.
On the heels of TIGER's success, Congress approved another $600 million for us to award this year, guaranteeing more new opportunities for cities.
As we pursue surface transportation reauthorization, we want to build on TIGER's success by empowering cities to have more input and control over how Federal transportation dollars are spent to support local goals. It just makes sense that local planners know the kinds of outcomes their communities want and need.
The innovative nature of the TIGER projects tells us that the days of one narrow criterion for evaluating a project are over. Different projects serve different goals. So we want communities to compete for project funds based on a wide range of measures including sustainability, livability, and potential for economic development.
Those are three changes that ought to give us all hope for a new era of transportation projects, in cities and suburbs and rural areas alike.
But, as strong a partner as this USDOT wants to be, economic realities limit the contribution we are able to make. So I encourage municipal leaders and planners to collaborate with regional organizations and private companies to design projects that are strong from the get-go.
Look, I know solving transportation and development challenges is not easy, but creative partnerships offer an important leg-up.
America's cities were the incubators of many transportation innovations this past year. From bike boxes at intersections to transit-oriented affordable housing development, our cities have been pioneers. I, for one, am looking forward to what they'll show us in the year ahead.