USDOT Seeks Input for Thriving Communities Initiative

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a request for information or RFI on August 5 to get feedback from industry stakeholders regarding its new Thriving Communities Initiative, which the agency plans to launch this fall. Comments are due by August 26.

[Above photo by New Jersey DOT]

The agency said this new program – created by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021 – seeks to provide technical assistance and “hands-on” planning to support “transformative infrastructure projects” serving disadvantaged communities across the country.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD is providing complementary technical assistance as part of the Thriving Communities program, USDOT added, to improve the coordination of housing and transportation planning to advance residents’ access to opportunity and increase housing supply. 

USDOT said it defines “technical assistance” to include programs, processes, and resources that provide targeted support, knowledge, or expertise to a community, region, organization, or other beneficiary to help access and successfully deploy funding and build local capacity to develop, design, and deliver transportation plans and projects.

The agency noted that it is interested in learning more about best practices in technical assistance delivery approaches from non-federal providers and those federal agencies disadvantaged communities feel have been successful in meeting their needs. USDOT is also interested in the technical assistance challenges disadvantaged communities face or anticipate facing when seeking to access its technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities.

“Given the historic levels of infrastructure funding we have, it is critical that we ensure disadvantaged communities can access those funds,” said USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “Through the Thriving Communities Initiative and other programs, the Department of Transportation is committed to collaborating with communities to craft technical assistance programs that meet them where they are and meet their needs — helping to create efficient, accessible transportation for all communities.”

USDOT added that it has aligned its Build America Bureau and other programs with the Thriving Communities initiative, including technical assistance programs supported through the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, the Rural and Tribal Assistance pilot program, and the Asset Concession and Innovative Finance Assistance program. 

“Together these critical programs will provide support and access to a diverse set of technical assistance providers to work directly with communities as they identify, develop and deliver infrastructure projects that address critical social, economic, environmental, and mobility needs,” added Morteza Farajian, the Build America Bureau’s executive director.

Committee on Environment and Sustainability Announces Annual Meeting Dates

The AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability is excited to invite you to the committee’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. The meeting will be held July 11th-14th at the Westin Downtown Austin. The meeting will feature speakers from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, as well as other stakeholders. Registration for the annual meeting and hotel reservations can be completed here. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you have any questions regarding the event or registration, please contact, Jenn Billo ( or David Peters ( If you encounter any problems securing a room at the hotel, please contact Meghan Wozniak (

FHWA Now Accepting Nominations for 2022 Environmental Excellence Awards

The Environmental Excellence Awards (EEAs) recognize outstanding transportation projects, processes, and organizations that incorporate environmental stewardship into the planning and project development processes using Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding sources.

Any organization, agency, group, or individual in the public, private, or non-profit sectors may submit a nomination. Entries are due by December 15, 2021. Please visit the EEA Applications Website to learn more about the EEA process and to submit an application.

Senate Confirms Buttigieg as USDOT Secretary

The Senate confirmed Peter Buttigieg as the 19th secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation on February 2 by a vote of 86 to 13. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nomination of the former 2020 Democrat presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, IN, to be USDOT secretary on January 27 by a vote of 21 to 3.

[Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.]

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials congratulated Buttigieg upon his confirmation by the Senate as USDOT secretary and looks forward to working with him on a number of critical transportation issues.  

“The nation faces a number of tremendous challenges and we know transportation will play a key role in building America back,” noted Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director, in a statement.

“AASHTO believes the work being done in transportation should endeavor to improve quality of life for all Americans,” he added. “State DOTs look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg to make that happen by improving safety; building a more resilient transportation system; and, supporting modally diverse options for people and their communities.”  

Safety and infrastructure investment – along with ways to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund – were key points Buttigieg emphasized during his confirmation hearing before the Senate commerce committee on January 21.

“Safety is the foundation of the department [of transportation’s] mission, and it takes on new meaning amid this [COVID-19] pandemic,” Buttigieg said in his written testimony. “We must ensure all of our transportation systems – from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways, and pipelines – are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus.”

“We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this by … creating millions of good-paying jobs, revitalizing communities that have been left behind, enabling American small businesses, workers, families, and farmers to compete and win in the global economy, and tackling the climate crisis,” he added.

“Infrastructure can be the cornerstone to all of this, and you have my commitment that I will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and growth that America needs in this area,” Buttigieg emphasized.

AASHTO also pointed to a recently released list of  2021 policy priorities that will guide the organization’s efforts in support of transportation infrastructure strategies and investments.

Top AASHTO priorities include passage of an infrastructure investment package to help spur the nation’s economic recovery while supporting “timely reauthorization” of a long-term surface transportation funding bill to prevent unnecessary program disruptions and delays in safety and mobility benefits to states and communities.

“As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, state DOTs will serve as a resource for Secretary Buttigieg and the U.S. Department of Transportation to help address the nation’s transportation challenges,” explained AASHTO’s Tymon. “Like Secretary Buttigieg, state DOTs support equity in transportation investments and decision-making. And, they share a desire to address our nation’s climate crisis and make transportation systems more resilient.”