NORWALK, CT—Yesterday Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) welcomed Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Chair of the Livable Communities Task Force, to Norwalk for a discussion with area experts on developing and implementing a pro-growth transportation strategy for Southwest Connecticut. Blumenauer is a nationally-renowned expert in smart growth transportation policies.

“Transportation plays a major role in quality of life in our communities, influencing everything from access to economic opportunities to environmental quality and community safety,” said Himes. “Thank you, Congressman Blumenauer, for providing some expert advice to our local leaders.”

Local sustainable development experts were on hand to outline Southwest Connecticut’s transportation and growth challenges. These stakeholders highlighted congestion and housing prices as impediments to local economic growth. Blumenauer explained he has found the greatest success in communities that offer transportation options, include building light rail and streetcar transit systems, redesigning neighborhood streets and sidewalks to be more pedestrian friendly, reducing the environmental damage caused by road projects and supporting a vibrant freight transportation system.

“I have traveled to hundreds of communities around the country, and I’ve seen that the winning formula for a strong economy and healthy, happy citizenry is providing transportation and housing choices. Across America, people are looking to reduce their consumption of oil, both because it’s expensive and bad for the planet,” said Blumenauer. “By investing in all forms of transportation – from light rail and streetcar to complete streets that accommodate all users - we can create jobs while improving public health and helping people get places cheaper and quicker.”

Late last week, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy.  These regional planning efforts will address the interdependent challenges of economic competitiveness and revitalization; energy use and climate change; and public health and environmental impacts.