FHWA has recently released a research paper that highlights the current state of the practice relative to the implementation of livability principles within the context of the Federal-aid highway program. The following excerpt provides a summary of The Role of FHWA Programs In Livability: State of the Practice Summary:
The research highlights the challenges facing Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other transportation agencies in changing traditional planning approaches and evolving institutional frameworks to more effectively incorporate livability principles. It offers a sampling of strategies and tools for implementing livability through different programs and agencies, and across various scales as they pertain to highway program planning and development.
The research conducted for the paper focused on identifying integrated highway projects that address livability from multiple perspectives, including a national literature review/scan coupled with technical knowledge of the research team and outreach to transportation practitioners. As a result of the literature scan, many different types of organizations and planning products, at different geographic levels, incorporating Federal, State, regional, and local programs and projects, were reviewed for livability practices and broad analytical observations.
Transportation plays an integral role in advancing the key principles of livable communities, as broadly defined through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership). However, at the transportation practitioner level, there remains significant interest in learning how to incorporate the livability principles into individual transportation plans, programs, and projects. There is also a need for effective guidance on implementation strategies and cross-agency coordination processes to integrate these principles with other Federal, State, regional, local and private sector plans and investments.
Livability in transportation is about integrating the quality, location, and type of transportation facilities and services available with other more comprehensive community plans and programs to help achieve broader community goals. It provides economic benefits to communities, businesses, and consumers. In practice, livable transportation systems accommodate a range of modes (walking, bicycling, transit, and automobiles) by creating mobility choice within more balanced multimodal transportation networks. This in turn helps support more sustainable patterns of development, whether in an urban, suburban, or rural context. Livable transportation systems can provide better access to jobs, community services, affordable housing, and schools, while helping to create safe streets, reduce energy use and emissions, reduce impacts on and enhance the natural and built environment, and support more efficient land use patterns.
Addressing these broader community goals can also help integrate planning processes between different agencies and levels of government. Livability is applicable at multiple scales—from urban or rural local projects, to regional plans, or at the State and Federal program level. This paper will guide discussion during FHWA’s planned regional livability workshops, intended to help advance livability within the context of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.