Following the success of the agency’s Smart City Challenge, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced the four winning cities of the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) ‘Every Place Counts Design Challenge’, which aims to raise awareness and identify inclusive community design solutions that bridge the infrastructure divide and reconnect people to opportunity.
Foxx unveiled the winners: Spokane, Washington; Ramsey County, Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Each will receive a design session that convenes elected officials, urban planners, designers and a cross-section of local residents around a transportation project that has the potential to link communities to essential services such as jobs, healthcare and schools.
The four Design Challenge winning cities will each receive on-site technical assistance from USDOT and design experts in the field. The challenge was launched in May following the release of Foxx’s ‘Guiding Principles for Connecting People to Opportunity’, a call to action for decision makers, practitioners and community leaders to galvanize around the potential for transportation policy and infrastructure to be a beacon for social change, economic mobility, and improved health.
The Design Sessions will address these identified infrastructure challenges:
Spokane the transcontinental I-90 was constructed through the heart of the city, dividing the working-class streetcar suburb of East Central Spokane. The city anticipates that the technical assistance will serve as an integrator to bring together those affected by the existing I-90 corridor, with partners that are committed to creating solutions to further identify opportunities to maximize connectivity from the new projects currently underway, while minimizing transportation infrastructure barriers;
Nashville’s I-40 was built through several predominantly African American, middle class neighborhoods in the 1960s, displacing residents and dividing a thriving community. The city plans to use well-established community partnership networks, gather input from community residents and business owners, host design sessions, synthesize ideas, and pursue implementation funds through its two-day design session;
Philadelphia’s Vine Street Expressway, or I-676, cuts through three communities, including Chinatown and the Callowhill District. The expressway has long impeded economic investment and access to green space for residents of these neighborhoods along its path. The city aims to produce an aspirational vision for the seven-block focus area spanning Vine Street from 7th Street to Broad Street, along with a roadmap for further public engagement, and an implementation plan;
Minneapolis the construction of I-94 divided the Rondo neighborhood, a historically African American community in the city’s metropolitan area. As the city has grown more diverse, ethnic enclaves are still clustered on either side of the highway, now including Asian Americans and Native Americans. The community would like to develop exemplary models of community design and engagement to guide future corridor planning efforts.
“Through this Challenge, we have the ability to rethink some of our nation’s past transportation choices and improve upon them to design a better future,” said Foxx. “I’m excited to work with these communities on creating inclusive and context-sensitive infrastructure solutions that reflect and incorporate the input of the people and communities they touch.”