Text: H.R.4287 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (12/11/2009)


111th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 4287

To establish an Office of Livability in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
December 11, 2009

Mr. Cohen introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure


A BILL

To establish an Office of Livability in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Enhancing Livability for All Americans Act of 2009”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Since the creation of the Interstate System, United States surface transportation has been defined by the use of personal motor vehicles.

(2) The focus on automobiles has afforded the people of the United States increased mobility and interconnectivity, but has also resulted in increased congestion, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and a reduced focus on other modes of surface transportation.

(3) Between 1955 and 2005, vehicle miles traveled in the United States increased fivefold, bringing with it an escalation in traffic congestion.

(4) Each year, Americans spend 4,200,000,000 hours in traffic congestion, burning 2,900,000,000 gallons of fuel.

(5) Wasted time and fuel result in a $78,000,000,000 annual congestion tax, creating a financial drain on individuals and the economy as a whole.

(6) The transportation sector accounts for 22 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted annually in the United States, with 60 percent of the emissions coming from personal motor vehicle use.

(7) Transportation costs account for approximately 18 percent of an average household’s expenditures.

(8) Over reliance on automobiles can have adverse impacts on public health, both through lessened physical activity and from increased pollutants.

(9) In order to reduce the financial, environmental, and quality of life impacts of traffic congestion and to create modal choice for all users, the United States transportation system must include alternate modes of transportation to complement personal motor vehicle travel, including public transit, walking, and bicycling.

(10) Public transit, walking, and bicycling are sustainable modes of transportation that result in 5,600,000,000 gallons of fuel savings and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 49,000,000 metric tons each year.

(11) Sustainable modes of transportation can provide affordable transportation choices and have the ability to reduce the transportation cost burden.

(12) Bicyclists and pedestrians are intended users of the surface transportation system, except where prohibited by law, and it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage maximum accessibility and safety with respect to the surface transportation system for bicyclists and pedestrians as intended users when designing and constructing surface transportation facilities.

(13) In order to provide access to sustainable modes of transportation, land use and planning decisions must include consideration of transportation options.

(14) A modally balanced surface transportation system will benefit all users through improved accessibility, mobility, and quality of life.

(15) Increasing the availability and use of sustainable modes of transportation and the development of livable communities are priorities of the United States.

SEC. 3. Office of Livability.

(a) In general.—Chapter 3 of title 23, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

§ 330. Office of Livability

“(a) Establishment.—The Secretary shall establish within the Office of the Secretary an office to be known as the ‘Office of Livability’ (in this section referred to as the ‘Office’) to—

“(1) provide funding, leadership, and support for transportation projects, planning, and policies at all levels of government that enhance livability; and

“(2) work to create and maintain a safe, reliable, integrated, and accessible transportation network that improves the economic and social well-being of the people of the United States by enhancing choices for transportation users that—

“(A) provide easy access to employment opportunities and other destinations; and

“(B) promote positive effects on the surrounding community and environment.

“(b) Director.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Office shall be headed by a director who shall be known as the “Director of the Office of Livability” (in this section referred to as the ‘Director’) and who shall be appointed by the Secretary.

“(2) DUTIES.—The duties of the Director shall be to—

“(A) manage the programs of the Office;

“(B) provide leadership within the Department of Transportation and throughout the United States with respect to Federal livability transportation policies; and

“(C) work collaboratively to ensure the expeditious and successful implementation of the projects and programs of other offices within the Department of Transportation relating to livability.

“(c) Grant programs.—The Director shall establish and carry out the grant programs established under this section by—

“(1) developing applications and criteria for the programs;

“(2) issuing regulations with respect to the programs;

“(3) selecting the recipients of grants under the programs;

“(4) creating performance measures for recipients of grants under the programs;

“(5) monitoring and evaluating the performance of recipients of grants under the programs;

“(6) developing technical assistance and other guidance to assist potential applicants, applicants, and recipients of grants under the programs; and

“(7) carrying out other activities with respect to the programs determined necessary by the Director.

“(d) Grant program for projects.—

“(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Director shall establish and carry out a grant program (in this subsection referred to as the ‘program’) to award grants on a competitive basis to eligible entities specified in paragraph (2) to assist capital investments in surface transportation projects that have a significant impact on a region, metropolitan area, community, or neighborhood.

“(2) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES.—For purposes of paragraph (1), the following are eligible entities:

“(A) A State government.

“(B) A local government.

“(C) The government of a territory of the United States.

“(D) The government of an Indian tribe.

“(E) A transit agency.

“(F) A port authority.

“(G) A metropolitan planning organization.

“(H) Any other political subdivision of a State or local government.

“(I) A multimodal or multi-State entity composed of entities specified in subparagraphs (A) through (H).

“(3) ELIGIBILITY AND PRIORITY OF PROJECTS.—

“(A) ELIGIBILITY.—A grant under the program shall be used for a transportation project that enhances livability. To be eligible for a grant under the program, an applicant must demonstrate the following:

“(i) The proposed project of the applicant will take place in a community with a transportation system characterized by, in the determination of the Director, a majority of the following:

“(I) Poor accessibility with respect to job centers, schools, and other urban areas in the region.

“(II) Limited transportation options for residents, particularly for individuals living in high-poverty areas, the elderly, and individuals with a disability.

“(III) Limited access and safety with respect to all transportation modes, including bicycling and walking, and an overall record of poor transportation safety.

“(IV) Limited connectivity among existing transportation modes.

“(V) Significant congestion.

“(VI) Significant urban sprawl characterized by low population density.

“(VII) Poor air and water quality.

“(VIII) Limited green space and greenways.

“(IX) An excessive average vehicle miles traveled per resident.

“(ii) The applicant has established performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed project.

“(iii) The applicant will utilize context sensitive solutions and public involvement in project development to ensure that the project reflects community and environmental values.

“(iv) There is a commitment to implementation of the proposed project on the part of key local political leadership and stakeholder groups, including metropolitan planning organizations.

“(v) The proposed project is able to begin implementation not later than one year after the date on which grant amounts are received.

“(B) PRIORITIES.—The Director shall give priority in awarding grants under the program to transportation projects that include at least two or more of the following:

“(i) Provision of an increased number of transportation options, including bicycling and walking, to improve access to housing, jobs, businesses, services, and social activities, particularly for low-income individuals and populations without access to a motor vehicle.

“(ii) Design of streets and transit and rail stations to enable safe and equitable access for all users.

“(iii) Improvement of the safety of a transportation system, facility, or network.

“(iv) Reduction of greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions, enhancement of wildlife habitat, or an increase in green spaces.

“(v) Reduction of exposure to criteria pollutants and other public health risks, particularly for low-income and at-risk communities.

“(vi) Use of innovative land use strategies to better coordinate transportation, housing, and development.

“(vii) Strong collaboration among a broad range of participants or the integration of transportation projects with other public service efforts.

“(viii) Revitalization of main streets and downtowns by making transportation improvements that encourage greater use of such areas.

“(ix) Support for community in-fill, transit-oriented development, or neighborhood revitalization activities.

“(x) Support for goals or projects included in a long range transportation plan.

“(4) SIZE DIVERSITY.—In awarding grants under the program, the Director shall award—

“(A) at least 25 percent of the amount available for grants under the program to projects located in communities with a population of not more than 200,000 individuals (which may include amounts awarded pursuant to subparagraph (B)); and

“(B) at least 10 percent of the amount available for grants under the program to projects located in communities with a population of not more than 50,000 individuals.

“(5) AVAILABILITY OF AMOUNTS.—Amounts made available to a recipient of a grant under the program shall remain available for the 3 fiscal years beginning after the fiscal year in which amounts are provided. Amounts unobligated by the recipient at the end of such period shall be redistributed by the Director to other eligible entities under the program.

“(6) ANNUAL REPORT.—As a condition of receiving a grant under the program, the recipient of the grant shall submit to the Director, each fiscal year in which the grant amounts are received, a report that, at a minimum—

“(A) lists and describes the projects and activities carried out by the recipient during the fiscal year; and

“(B) describes and analyzes the impact of the projects and activities with respect to the objectives of programs and activities under this section.

“(e) Grant program for innovative planning.—

“(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Director shall establish and carry out a grant program (in this subsection referred to as the ‘program’) to award grants on a competitive basis to eligible entities specified in paragraph (2) to assist communities in developing strategic growth plans that provide a vision and goals for development with respect to at least a 20-year period and that integrate long-term transportation and land use planning.

“(2) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES.—For purposes of paragraph (1), the following are eligible entities:

“(A) A State government.

“(B) A regional planning organization.

“(C) A metropolitan planning organization.

“(D) A local government.

“(3) PRIORITY FOR GRANTS.—The Director shall give priority in awarding grants under the program to applicants that demonstrate the following:

“(A) The proposed strategic growth plan of the applicant is for a community with a transportation system characterized by, in the determination of the Director, a majority of the following:

“(i) Poor accessibility with respect to job centers, schools, and other urban areas in the region.

“(ii) Limited transportation options for residents, particularly for individuals living in high-poverty areas, the elderly, and individuals with a disability.

“(iii) Limited access and safety with respect to all transportation modes, including bicycling and walking, and an overall record of poor transportation safety.

“(iv) Limited connectivity among existing transportation modes.

“(v) Significant congestion.

“(vi) Significant urban sprawl characterized by low population density.

“(vii) Poor air and water quality.

“(viii) Limited green space and greenways.

“(ix) An excessive average vehicle miles traveled per resident.

“(B) Multijurisdictional partnerships and engagement with local jurisdictions, transit agencies and service providers, and housing and land use entities.

“(C) The ability to complete a strategic growth plan in an effective and timely manner.

“(D) The ability to incorporate the strategic growth plan into a long range transportation plan.

“(4) REQUIREMENTS ON STRATEGIC GROWTH PLANS.—A strategic growth plan for which a grant is awarded under the program shall develop a vision and goals for enhancing livability. The recipient of a grant under the program shall coordinate with local jurisdictions, transit agencies and service providers, and housing and land use entities and shall develop a strategic growth plan that—

“(A) furthers the creation of livable communities;

“(B) incorporates the development of feasible steps for implementing the plan, including interjurisdictional agreements that provide for cooperative and coordinated approaches to achieving plan goals;

“(C) assesses projected regional population growth or loss and other demographic changes, including by creating 2 to 4 alternative growth scenarios;

“(D) assesses how regional population growth or loss and other demographic changes may impact the need for housing, community development, and transportation, including public transportation, in the region;

“(E) assesses existing transportation corridors and includes strategies for maintaining the corridors and for enhancing development along the corridors;

“(F) assesses the accessibility of job centers in the region with respect to public transportation facilities and housing, including affordable and public housing;

“(G) assesses transportation options in the region, including—

“(i) public transportation options, including intercity and high-speed rail;

“(ii) options for individuals with low incomes, individuals living in high-poverty areas, the elderly, and individuals with a disability; and

“(iii) any obstacles to providing access to locations that offer employment opportunities, including those in other urban areas in the region;

“(H) assesses the daily vehicle miles traveled in the region and the opportunities for reducing growth in daily vehicle miles traveled and traffic congestion in the region;

“(I) assesses the environmental and public health needs of the region and incorporates strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air and water quality, and remediating brownfield sites;

“(J) includes strategies for adding new capacity for public transportation and increasing ridership on public transportation;

“(K) includes strategies for supporting the development of location-efficient and transit-oriented development;

“(L) includes strategies for revitalizing communities, neighborhoods, and commercial centers by supporting existing infrastructure;

“(M) includes strategies for coordinating the provision of transportation services to individuals with low incomes, the elderly, and individuals with a disability;

“(N) includes strategies for reducing the costs of housing and transportation, particularly for low-income households; and

“(O) assesses public lands and waters and includes strategies for maintaining or enhancing the amount of public lands and waters.

“(5) SIZE DIVERSITY.—In awarding grants under the program, the Director shall award—

“(A) at least 25 percent of the amount available for grants under the program to plans for communities with a population of not more than 200,000 individuals (which may include amounts awarded pursuant to subparagraph (B)); and

“(B) at least 10 percent of the amount available for grants under the program to plans for communities with a population of not more than 50,000 individuals.

“(6) AVAILABILITY OF AMOUNTS.—Amounts made available to a recipient of a grant under the program shall remain available for the 3 fiscal years beginning after the fiscal year in which amounts are provided. Amounts unobligated by the recipient at the end of such period shall be redistributed by the Director to other eligible entities under the program.

“(7) MAXIMUM GRANT AMOUNTS.—The Director shall establish the maximum amount of a grant under the program for each of the following:

“(A) Recipients developing a strategic growth plan for a community with a population of not more than 50,000 individuals.

“(B) Recipients developing a strategic growth plan for a community with a population of more than 50,000 individuals and not more than 200,000 individuals.

“(C) Recipients developing a strategic growth plan for a community with a population of more than 200,000 individuals and not more than 1,000,000 individuals.

“(D) Recipients developing a strategic growth plan for a community with a population of more than 1,000,000 individuals and not more than 3,000,000 individuals.

“(E) Recipients developing a strategic growth plan for a community with a population of more than 3,000,000 individuals.

“(8) ANNUAL REPORT.—As a condition of receiving a grant under the program, the recipient of the grant shall submit to the Director, each fiscal year in which the grant amounts are received, a report that, at a minimum—

“(A) lists and describes the projects and activities carried out by the recipient during the fiscal year;

“(B) describes and analyzes the impact of the projects and activities with respect to the objectives of programs and activities under this section;

“(C) includes a set of performance measures to evaluate the strategic growth plan of the recipient, including measures with respect to the evaluation of economic development, quality of life, transportation costs, public health and safety, equitable access to transportation options, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions and other environmental impacts, and transportation system conditions and connectivity; and

“(D) describes innovative planning and public participation methods developed and implemented, including for engaging regional employers, public health and housing providers, and transportation users, including individuals with low incomes, the elderly, and individuals with a disability;

“(f) Development of statistical and analytical capabilities.—The Director shall develop statistical and analytical capabilities, in conjunction, when appropriate, with other entities in the executive branch (including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development) and with other entities within the Department of Transportation (including other offices within the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics) to ascertain, and shall determine, the following using the best available research methodologies:

“(1) The percentage of trips taken throughout the United States each year using each of the following modes of transportation:

“(A) Motor vehicle travel.

“(B) Public transit, including ferries.

“(C) Walking.

“(D) Bicycling.

“(E) Intercity rail and bus travel.

“(2) The economic, public health, and environmental benefits derived due to the percentage of trips taken annually using sustainable modes of transportation.

“(3) Benefits that may be achieved with an increase in the percentage of trips taken annually using sustainable modes of transportation.

“(4) An affordability index that illustrates the transportation and housing costs associated with living in specific locations.

“(5) Any other information relating to the status and expansion of sustainable modes of transportation and livable communities that the Director determines is necessary.

“(g) Executive branch coordination.—The Director shall work collaboratively with other executive branch agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Health and Human Services, to exchange information, carry out joint planning and research, and conduct other activities that promote the development of livable communities, increase transportation choices, and improve the environment, public health, and quality of life.

“(h) Collaboration.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Director shall work collaboratively to ensure the expeditious and successful implementation of projects and programs that pertain to livability in offices of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and all other operating administrations within the Department of Transportation. Projects and programs that pertain to livability include the following:

“(A) The nonmotorized transportation pilot program under section 1807 of SAFETEA–LU (23 U.S.C. 217 note; 119 Stat. 1460).

“(B) Transportation enhancements under section 133.

“(C) The recreational trails program under section 206.

“(D) The national scenic byways program under section 162.

“(E) Other programs of the Department of Transportation identified by the Secretary as contributing significantly to improved livability.

“(2) EFFECT ON LOCATION OF PROGRAMS.—Programs specified under paragraph (1) shall remain in the modal location in effect before the date of enactment of this section. A program relating to livability established after the date of enactment of this section may be situated in any modal location in the Department of Transportation, at the discretion of the Secretary, unless otherwise mandated by Act of Congress.

“(i) Development and dissemination of best practices.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Office shall act as a leadership resource to develop and disseminate information on best practices and provide technical assistance or other training to States, regional and local governmental entities, and Indian tribes relating to, at a minimum, the following:

“(A) Promotion of the integration of land use planning and transit-oriented development to support the creation of livable communities.

“(B) Fostering multimodal transportation systems and effective multimodal connections.

“(C) The expeditious delivery of nonmotorized transportation projects.

“(D) Innovative design of nonmotorized transportation facilities.

“(E) Adoption and implementation of comprehensive street design policies and principles and practical design standards.

“(F) Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other criteria pollutants.

“(G) Projects, programs, and activities that support the achievement of the national mode share targets developed under paragraph (2).

“(2) MODE SHARE TARGETS.—The Director shall develop quantifiable national mode share targets for sustainable modes of transportation, develop a timeline for achievement of the targets, and support projects, programs, and activities within the Department of Transportation and throughout the United States in support of the targets.

“(j) Comprehensive street design policies and principles and practical design standards.—The Director shall encourage the adoption and implementation by States, regional and local governmental entities, and Indian tribes of comprehensive street design policies and principles and practical design standards through—

“(1) the development and dissemination of information on best practices under subsection (i);

“(2) the provision of technical assistance or other training under subsection (i); and

“(3) the creation or compilation of model comprehensive street design policies and principles and practical design standards and the dissemination of information relating to such models to States, metropolitan planning organizations, and other appropriate governmental entities.

“(k) Livability, sustainability, and planning.—The Director shall compile information and provide technical assistance, training, and information concerning best practices to States and metropolitan planning organizations to assist such entities in achieving compliance with livability and sustainability requirements and performance targets.

“(l) Funding.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—There is authorized to be appropriated out of the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) to carry out this section $750,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015.

“(2) CONTRACT AUTHORITY.—Funds made available to carry out this section shall be available for obligation and administered in the same manner as if the funds were apportioned under chapter 1.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The analysis for such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following:


“330. Office of Livability.”.