Green streets work to begin

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Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013 12:00 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will assist Bellevue with promoting health and the environment with a focus on the city’s streets.

The green streets initiative seeks to bring together environmental considerations and urban planning to the city’s transportation network. Omaha, for example, has a green streets plan, which examines the city’s major streets and makes recommendations on how to improve them with greenways, medians, signals and other improvements.

Instead of providing direct financial assistance, the EPA will conduct a technical workshop for Bellevue city officials to develop strategies.

The workshop will feature private-sector experts for one or two days, who will look at how to attract environmentally responsible, economically healthy development. From there, the city will conduct an audit of its streets and develop its own green streets plan.

“We are excited to have experts in the field come to Bellevue and lead us in this green streets workshop,” Assistant City Administrator Larry Burks said in a press release. “With the assistance of the EPA and the work of the stakeholders here in Bellevue, we can look forward to the development of some great environmental strategies.”

Bellevue joined four cities — Dayton, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Maui, Hawaii — in receiving green streets assistance this year. Last year, the EPA awarded grants to East Lansing, Mich.; Passaic County, N.J.; Northampton, Mass.; and Surprise, Arz.

Out of 121 applications, the EPA selected 43 communities in 27 states this year to participate in the program. Omaha also received an award to examine how to use smart growth to produce economic and fiscal health.

The competitive process included consultations with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation, which along with the EPA make up the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Since its inception, 141 communities across the county have participated in the program, examining topics such as sustainable strategies for small cities and rural areas, land use strategies for water quality and neighborhood planning for healthy aging.

“The Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program coordinates federal investments in infrastructure and helps communities make smart planning choices,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said in a press release.

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