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Livability in State Departments of Transportation

Started: January, 2016 Ended: March, 2017 Project ID #4W5915 Status: Completed

Results & Findings

Researchers reviewed the websites of 51 State DOTs, including the District of Columbia, to learn if the DOT has a definition of “livability” or “livable community.”  Researchers found a definition of “livability” or “livable community” for about half of State DOTs (28 of 51, including the District of Columbia). The most common theme that ran throughout most of the livability definitions was public health and safety. This was followed closely by the theme of economic development and access to good jobs, with definitions including related wording. About half of the livability definitions included a reference to providing transportation options. All State DOTs that had a definition of livability had some means of implementing it. However, few, if any, State DOTs have livability-specific programs or advisory councils. Rather, livability is incorporated, and in some cases, made a priority through other initiatives and projects. Of the 28 State DOTs that were found to both have definitions of “livability” and be implementing it in some manner, four have performance measures either already in use or being developed. Livability appears to be an all-encompassing and integral part of all processes in some DOTs, while playing only a minor role in others.


Report Cover Livability in State DOTs, Tiffany AllenThe goal of this project is to learn if State DOTs are defining “livability” and incorporating it in their policies, procedures, and projects in a meaningful way. View more details about this project on the SURLC website at http://surlc.org/2017/03/28/livability-in-state-departments-of-transportation/


The nation-wide discussion of livability increased with the creation of a national level, joint Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. This initiative has identified six principles of livability (HUD, DOT, EPA, 2009): provide more transportation choices, promote affordable housing, enhance economic competitiveness, support existing communities, coordinate policies and leverage investment, and value communities and neighborhoods.  However, there is no “one size fits all” definition of livability; it should vary by state and even by community to meet local livability ideals. And the term livability, as it relates to transportation, is not well defined. The goal of this project is to learn if State DOTs are defining “livability” and incorporating it in their policies, procedures, and projects in a meaningful way. To achieve this goal, a number of objectives are delineated, including:
  • Learn if each State DOT has a definition of livability, as it relates to transportation.
For the DOTs that have a definition:
  • Ascertain and describe the commonalities among the definitions.
  • Understand how the definition is being implemented.
For the DOTs that have a definition and are implementing livability principles:
  • Describe the commonalities among states in how livability principles are implemented.
  • Learn whether or not progress is being tracked or measured.


Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Sponsor

Part of: Mobility and Public Transportation, UTC, WTI-SURLC, Small Urban and Rural Livability Center

Project Tagged In: livability, transportation choices

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