The capital cities of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Montana will receive assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create healthy communities through green development under the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals (GAC) program. The program is a partnership between the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Each year, three to five cities are selected through a national competition. The EPA then funds a trip for a team of designers to visit the cities and produce schematic designs with the intention of catalyzing or complementing a larger planning process for pilot neighborhoods. The design team, EPA, HUD, and DOT also assist city officials develop specific implementation strategies.
This year’s cities will receive assistance for the following initiatives:
Baton Rouge, La.
The city will receive assistance to plan a greenway connecting Louisiana State University with downtown. The proposed 2.5-mile greenway will be a pedestrian and bicyclist corridor, and the GAC project will create design options incorporating green infrastructure elements into the greenway plan.
Des Moines, Iowa
Assistance will be provided to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed streetscape plan for a one-mile segment of 6th Avenue, a corridor that serves as a gateway to the downtown area. The GAC project will create design options to revitalize the street such as wider sidewalks, more narrow traffic lanes, better lighting, and improved bus stop shelters; it will also create option to minimize stormwater runoff, such as permeable pavement and rain gardens.
The city will receive assistance to enhance the stretch of Second Street between the historic downtown and the state capitol. The GAC project will focus on the intersection of Bridge Street and West Second Street, which has been deemed unsafe for pedestrians, and will create options to improve connections for pedestrians and motorists. Additional assistance will be provided to connect the downtown with the proposed Kentucky River trail and to include green infrastructure elements to reduce stormwater runoff and to the Kentucky River’s water quality.
Last Chance Gulch, which connects the Helena business district with downtown, wil be improved and the GAC project will focus on making the street and intersections friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists, while maintaining the neighborhood’s functionality. The project will address the challenges of a five-point intersection through design improvements that improve traffic flow, create safer crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve the connection to downtown.
The city will receive assistance to improve the walkability of streets and to revitalize public plazas around the Market Square Redevelopment Area. Plans are in place to create a green cultural district in the area, and the GAC project will help to create a cohesive vision to ensure redevelopment benefits the area’s underserved community.