T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

Now hiring: Policy Associate

24 May 2022 | Posted by | 0 Comments |

motivated individual with knowledge, experience and interest in transportation policy development, implementation, and advocacy at the federal, state and local level. This position reports to the Policy Director of T4America.

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Justice40 “benefits” could mean more emissions, worse health outcomes in disadvantaged communities

A biker cruises in the sidewalk along a busy street

In President Biden’s first weeks in office, he established an environmental justice initiative called Justice40, which aims to direct benefits from federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Today, the administration is working on more specific guidance on how Justice40 should be applied, which will determine how effective this effort will be.

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The STB is finally acting to improve freight railroads. Will it be enough?

Freight train

After years of looking the other way while deliveries suffered, the Surface Transportation Board finally ruled that freight railroads have to improve their service. Here’s what it could mean for goods and travelers alike.

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How local governments can overcome delay and obstruction (part two)

protected bike path filled with cyclists

Local government practitioners are often highly motivated to invest in safer street designs. But they soon encounter insurmountable barriers from the state DOT, which holds the purse strings, owns the roads and highways that also serve as local streets, and interprets federal rules in ways that elevate their priorities and push safety down the list. Here are some ways for local elected officials and municipal staff to break through those barriers.

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How advocates can overcome delay and obstruction (part one)

Advocate holding a sign that says "Make streets safe for all"

Local advocates fighting for safe streets and expanded transportation options will often struggle to make progress in places because transportation planners and engineers are entrenched in old ways of doing things. We’ve identified some patterns in the ways the establishment can block reforms and offer suggested ways to overcome those obstructions.

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WATCH: Safety and vehicle speed are fundamentally opposed

speed limit 20 mph

Sometimes we have to see it to believe it. How would street design really look if we prioritized the safety of all road users? Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition’s latest video illustrates that when streets are designed to move as many cars as possible as quickly as possible, other road users pay the price.

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Bad faith arguments continue: Another look at the #SoNotBusy Gulf Coast Corridor

Over a month ago, we explained why freight railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) were trying to halt the return of passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast—an effort that could hinder passenger rail service across the country. Well, CSX is still at it, and their easily-disputed claims are proof that freight railroads have had free rein to stand in the path of passenger rail for far too long.

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King County’s blueprint for better bus speed and reliability

Transit rider at King County Metro bus stop

The Seattle area’s busiest transit agency released their “playbook” for better transit through smart incremental improvements and community partnerships. Focusing on bus speed and reliability, this guidebook is a valuable resource for any transit agency looking to build trust with riders.

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Getting to equitable outcomes in the infrastructure law

A crowd of pedestrians in downtown Seattle

Despite the rhetoric, the infrastructure law falls well short of truly addressing the decades of harm our transportation system has inflicted on marginalized communities, and could even exacerbate existing inequities. However, it does provide some notable opportunities to restore and invest in these communities’ infrastructure needs.

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USDOT and Congress: Taking sides but not talking about implementation

Sheltered Richmond bus stop by a bus only lane

If we’re going to ensure that the historic amount of transit funding in the infrastructure law actually results in good, usable, high quality transit that improves access to jobs and services, Congress is going to need to do a better job of oversight and thinking through the very real and difficult issues at hand for transit, not just arguing about whether or not transit is a vital part of transportation and mobility in communities small and large.

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Developing a workforce to get the most out of the infrastructure bill

An Amtrak employee interacts with passengers on the train

Workforce recruitment and retention issues that plagued the transportation industry long before the pandemic now threaten the industry’s ability to implement and get the most out of the 2021 infrastructure bill. Though there are workforce development programs in the infrastructure bill, the administration still needs to take action to make these programs a reality.

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The infrastructure law is not climate legislation, but states could make it green

A man observes a stretch of Dock Street in Annapolis, Md., that flooded after the area received over three quarters of an inch of rain in 24 hours on Jan. 25, 2010.

Though distinctly not serious about fighting climate change, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, the infrastructure law) can still help lead to some decent climate outcomes if states and metro areas make the choice to prioritize doing so with their flexible funding.

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Transit adaptability during the COVID-19 pandemic

Blue Pittsburgh bus

Transit agencies across the United States have struggled with decreased ridership, safety hazards, and low morale as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some have responded by changing their approach to better serve everyday riders, make transit free or more affordable, and rethink what the future of transit should look like to reduce emissions and provide access for those who need it most.

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Pro-tip: Invest in the solution, not in the problem

comic illustration

Congress and states love to create small, discrete programs to solve big transportation problems. They do not like to stop the types of investments that are causing the problems, even when far more money is perpetuating the issues those new programs are meant to solve. With historic amounts of infrastructure funding headed into states’ hands even as streets are growing more dangerous and we urgently need environmental solutions, it’s time to change that strategy.

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VIDEO: Beth Osborne explains our broken approach to setting speed limits with WSJ

Cars going at different speeds on a road with a 35 mph speed limit

T4America director Beth Osborne joined Wall Street Journal correspondent George Downs to explain why one controversial method for setting speed limits results in higher and higher speeds.

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The infrastructure law and boosting access to jobs and services

a farmers market filled with pedestrians

The ultimate point of transportation spending should be to connect people to jobs and services. But that’s not what we primarily use as a measure of success and the new infrastructure law maintains the status quo of focusing on moving vehicles quickly as a (poor) proxy for access. This means that, absent some changes that USDOT can still make, states and communities will need to make the most of the flexibilities within the infrastructure law to advance multimodal access to jobs and services.

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Everyone agrees that repair is important. No one is willing to require it

comic illustration

Despite a fundamental lack of understanding by some members of Congress about the program they’re responsible for overseeing, the law sets states free to spend their federal transportation cash on eligible expenses, however they see fit. Our repair needs will never get addressed until we change this approach. Every time that we’ve polled voters over […]

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Longer trips, faster speeds, fewer options: What’s really valued in the “value of time”?

A pedestrian walks along the edge of a road filled with cars.

Despite its name, the federal “value of time” guidance doesn’t actually value travelers’ time at all. Instead, this arcane but influential measure focuses on one thing: vehicle speed. The result is more dangerous, less convenient travel for everyone.

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How will the infrastructure law improve active transportation and Complete Streets?

A Complete Street with a short crosswalk, two bike lanes, two lanes for cars, and wide sidewalks for pedestrians

When done right, active transportation infrastructure can cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health, keep people safer, and promote equity. But how will the new infrastructure law’s $650 billion in formula and competitive grant programs help to build safer, Complete Streets? What policies changed to prioritize active transportation investments? Here’s what you need to know, and how you can make these programs and policies work for you.

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