As yesterday’s post about Oklahoma City’s fight to replace a downtown highway with a real urban boulevard illustrated so well, cities are often at the vanguard of smart urban planning and transportation choices while state-level agencies can be laggards. So it’s nice to see some governors and ex-governors stepping forward to emphasize the value of smart growth policies.
The Governors’ Institute on Community Design isn’t a brand new undertaking — it’s been around since 2005 — but it’s just gotten some high-profile support which could catapult it to a different level.
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of six governors and ex-governors celebrated the new support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities – the collaboration of HUD, DOT, and EPA — for the Governor’s Institute. This kind of collaborative work, among federal agencies and with the states, is “common sense writ large,” said U.S. DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari at the event. “But it wasn’t done in the past.”
States are where the rubber hits the road, he said, and the federal government needs to help them take smart action.
The Institute’s staff advises states on everything from agriculture and economic development to transportation and housing. They hold workshops in states, hosted by the governors themselves, to give specific advice tailored to the needs and particularities of that places.
Its prescriptions are well grounded in the smart growth philosophy. For example, the Institute’s 14 policies for transportation include strategic planning, a “fix-it-first” approach, and complete streets. They evaluate communities based on street grid connectivity and transit-oriented development, not old-school criteria like vehicle level-of-service.