During the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, DC, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Obama Administration will change how transportation projects are selected to receive federal funding. Under the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts and Small Starts program, funding guidelines will be based on livability issues such as environmental benefits, economic development and congestion relief, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.
“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” said Secretary LaHood. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improve development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.”
The FTA will soon initiate a separate rulemaking process, inviting comments on ways to appropriately measure all the benefits that result from these type of investments. Landscape architects should weigh-in during this process and provide personal accounts of their successful multi-modal transportation projects.
Landscape architects have always been at the forefront of planning and designing multi-modal transportation corridors that promote a more environmentally sustainable way of life, which makes ASLA members uniquely positioned to be key players in transit projects under these new guidelines.