U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Democrat-Oregon) sponsored legislation to improve mobility, reduce miles traveled in cars, and cut down C02 emissions. The Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act (CLEAN TEA) would require communities with more than 200,000 inhabitants to revise transporation plans with efficiency and climate change mitigation goals in mind. Under the draft legislation, new plans would need to include clear strategies for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and, once approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), be integrated into existing regional and local transportation plans. The goal is to create alternatives to using a car to travel short distances, such as walking, riding a bike or using a street car, thereby reducing C02 emissions from the transportation sector. (Transportation accounts for approximately 30 percent of C02 emissions).
Projects could include: sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, greenways, ‘intelligent transportation systems,’ and highways (if re-designed to cut down the number of miles traveled). In comments to ASLA representatives, Congressman Blumenauer also highlighted the need for new street cars and light rail, and brought up the Tempe Arizona light rail system as a success story. The Tempe light rail has led to 6.5 billion in real estate development along the rail line, says Blumenauer.
Under the proposed legislation, 15 percent of funds would go the development of plans; 80 percent to the implementation of projects; and 5 percent to administration. Some design advocacy organizations think the fact that the legislation explicitly includes planning funds is a major plus. In addition, public forums and planning sessions would be required before changes are made in local communities to avoid “decisions by bureaucrats.” As part of his plan, Blumenauer called for “1,000 local community forums across the U.S. to discuss how to make communities more livable.” He also said all designers (architects, landscape architects, engineers, urban planners) need to be involved in these forums, and dedicated to “reducing emissions through the built environment.”
Funds for CLEAN TEA would come out of proceeds from the allowance auction established through a national cap and trade system, which was recently proposed in the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation.
Learn more at Transportation for America and also check out the Complete Streets Coalition, which is also focused on creating “safe access” for all transportation users and “walkable, smart growth communities,” while cutting down C02 emissions. The Complete Streets Coalition noted that California recently passed a ‘Complete Streets Act,’ which now applies to all new transportation work.
Image credit: San Francisco Foundation