U.S. Transportation and Housing Secretaries testifying about livable communities todayMarch 18, 2009
By Stephen Lee Davis
We noticed an encouraging announcement from Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on his blog this morning, following on the heels of yesterday’s post highlighted on the Streetsblog Network. Yesterday he said “we are absolutely committed to more livable, sustainable communities by reducing congestion, by building housing near transit, by supporting all modes of transportation.”
Secretary LaHood will be testifying on Capitol Hill today with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan about a new joint effort that might put some legs to those values from yesterday’s post.
According to today’s posting on Secretary LaHood’s blog, the two of them will be unveiling an initiative to “revitalize our downtowns, foster walkable neighborhoods, and bring people, employers, and housing closer together through public transportation.”
It’s been encouraging to hear the “livability” buzzword coming from the transportation department on a regular basis — not to mention as a centerpiece of President Obama’s platform. Of course, realizing this quality of “livability” in our communities will require significant changes in transportation spending, underscoring the importance of this year’s transportation bill before Congress. Because “livable communities” are not what we’ll get if we do exactly what we’ve done for the last 50 years.
From the rest of his post:
Fostering livable communities is a key aspect of President Obama’s urban policy agenda and Vice President Biden’s Middle Class initiative. The way we design our communities has a huge impact on our citizens’ social, physical, and economic wellbeing. Yet many Americans live in neighborhoods without sidewalks or access to public transportation.
Therefore, one of my highest priorities is to work closely with Congress, other Federal departments, the nation’s governors, and local officials to help promote more livable communities through sustainable surface transportation programs. By focusing on livability, we can help transform the way transportation serves the American people—and create safer, healthier communities that provide access to economic opportunities.