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The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability – 2011 Skip to content

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The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability – 2011


Transportation planning is integral to the creation of livable communities for citizens of all ages, especially older adults. Recently, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation, funded research to determine the how livability is being integrated into highway planning projects. Research included an extensive review of literature on transportation planning and livability, and identified gaps in highway planning. Community planners and local governments can benefit from the report for its strategies, partnership highlights, and best practices.

Key Points

FHWA policies and projects are “incorporating and embracing” livability principles (page 33). As cooperation and alignment of livability definitions (page 6) become uniform and ubiquitous in planning processes, misconceptions regarding highway planning and livability will lessen and become integral to overall planning efforts (page 12).

Other report highlights include:

  1. The report delineates between sustainability and livability (page 6-9). Accordingly, the FHWA has organizationally divided its sustainability and livability teams (page 8). However, the report recognizes that although sustainability works within a broader context to include environmental concerns, livability and sustainability are also interrelated with regard to “social equity, human health, environmental sustainability, and economic development” (page 8)
  2. Context-sensitive solutions (CSS) in designing, planning, and renovating highways are the future of transportation planning. One “common use” of CSS is in corridor planning, of which several best practice examples (including replacing intersections with roundabouts) are highlighted (page 14). One notable example of CSS planning is the Bird Rock Traffic Management Plan in La Jolla, California that reduced “incidents and crashes by 90 percent” (page 16)
  3. Another emerging trend to create livable communities is the removal of aging elevated freeways in favor of high capacity surface boulevards, which lead to greater transportation connectivity.  This trends falls under “Management and Operations (M&O)” strategies touted in livable planning efforts.

How to Use

This report provides a robust source of best practices, policies, and effective partnerships for transportation planning for livable communities. Community planners and local governments can use the report to deepen their understanding of key livability principles, differences between livability and sustainability, key federal departments and policies that impact transportation planning, and current best practices and strategies in local transportation planning efforts.

View full report: The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability (PDF – 656 KB)

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