On Thursday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of up to $175 million in livability grants to help urban, suburban and rural communities develop transit options to better connect people to where they live, work and play.
Local transit agencies will be able to compete for livability dollars. The competitive grant program will begin accepting applications when announced in the Federal Register during the week of June 20.
The announcement comes on the second anniversary of the creation of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Livability grants are aimed at assuring that transportation and housing decisions are made jointly and recognize the unique character of each community.
“Coordinated transportation and housing planning can make the best use of scarce federal dollars and can help create jobs, lower transportation costs and reduce our dependence on oil,” said Secretary LaHood. “Communities where people have access to affordable housing and different forms of transportation to get to places that are important to them are communities where people want to live.”
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, better transportation options and lower transportation costs.
“In addition to the need for affordable housing, the Obama Administration recognizes the necessity for safe, convenient and affordable transportation,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We’re helping to better connect communities and create reliable transit choices so that people can make it home from work in time to sit down to dinner with their families or help their kids with homework. That means a higher quality of life for all Americans and a more efficient and more usable transportation network for moving people and goods.”
Up to $150 million of the livability funding being announced comes from the Bus and Bus Facilities Program, which provides money to purchase or replace buses and to build bus-related facilities. The remaining funds come from the Alternatives Analysis Program, which provides money to help communities evaluate and select the best transit options to meet their transportation needs. The money can be spent on a broad range of projects within those two categories.
FTA’s Alternatives Analysis grant program is the first key milestone in obtaining federal investments in new capital transit projects. The alternatives analysis is complete once a locally preferred alternative is selected and adopted as part of the affected region’s long-range transportation plan.