Smart Growth Wins Big in Federal Transportation Budget

The Obama Administration released their FY 2012 budget on Monday, and transit and the so-called “Livable Communities” initiative (explicit attempts to fund Smart Growth) won big time based on my first reading of the 48-page summary.

According to the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget highlights, a summary for the U.S. Department Transportation spending, funds from highway users–passenger car and commercial trucks–will underwrite $7.5 billion for various livable communities initiatives (including transit expansion) in FY 2012, and $48 billion over six years. Livable Communities initiatives will get $4.1 billion out of the Federal Highway Administration budget, substantially more than safety which is slated for $2.5 billion. Overall, explicit Smart Growth initiatives represents 10 percent of all funds allocated from the Highway Trust Fund resources.

And I haven’t even counted the dollars for new intercity passenger rail (e.g., high-speed rail and Amtrak) or shoring up existing transit operations. The Federal Railroad Administration will get $8 billion this year and $52.6 billion over six years to begin the conversion and building out of a national passenger rail network including high-speed rail.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.