“Livable community” has become the new buzzword in urban planning and transportation circles. With the U.S. population expected to increase by 100 million over the next 40 years, effective coordination of policies related to housing, transportation, energy, and the environment will be necessary to ensure quality of life while expediting the flow of both freight and people in the safest and most cost-effective manner. There are, however, some differing ideas on what defines a “livable community”.

In general Livability Community refers to the environmental and social quality of an area as perceived by residents, employees, customers and visitors. This includes safety and health (traffic safety, personal security, public health), local environmental conditions (cleanliness, noise, dust, air quality, water quality), the quality of social interactions (neighborliness, fairness, respect, community identity and pride), opportunities for recreation and entertainment, aesthetics, and existence of unique cultural and environmental resources (e.g., historic structures, mature trees, traditional architectural styles).

Livability is largely affected by conditions in the public realm, places where people naturally interact with each other and their community, including streets, parks, transportation terminals and other public facilities, and so is affected by public policy and planning decisions.

For much of the last century, roads have played a major role in connecting people to their jobs, schools, places of worship, and affordable housing. Transit and intercity passenger rail investments alone cannot begin to meet the nation’s transportation needs. Today, 95 percent of passenger travel in America is by car, motorcycle and truck, and 93 percent of freight by value moves on our highways. The simple fact is that roads are part of the fabric of this nation. To define realistic livability objectives, it is important to:

  • Recognize that 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas.
  • Respect how Americans choose to travel.
  • Balance environmental goals with economic goals.

The Role of Asphalt in Livable Communities acknowledges the momentum towards creating more livable communities and details the versatility of asphalt pavements and sustainable qualities that make it a natural source for advancing the goals of livability. The report also recommends that livability goals be broadly defined to ensure that all of the population benefits and that funding for livability not siphon money away from needed pavement preservation and infrastructure maintenance.

To learn more, view or download the white paper The Role of Asphalt in Livable Communitites by clicking here.