The Infrastructure Act & New Landscape Opportunities

Urban greening, such as award winning Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, typifies the sort of projects that may gain traction through the Infrastructure Act.


The House of Representatives recently passed the bi-partisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which makes significant investments in the nation’s transportation, water, renewable energy, and broadband infrastructure. So what could it mean for landscape professionals? Here’s just a few highlights as summarized from the article “Landscape Architects Poised to Lead New Era of Infrastructure” by Roxanne Blackwell, Esq., director of federal government affairs at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

The legislation incorporates 13 of the transportation, water, and natural resource policy recommendations sent by ASLA’s Government Affairs team to Congressional leaders. The package creates new programs that will allow landscape opportunities nationwide. These include the Healthy Streets Initiative, as well as programs to remove invasive plants, create habitat for pollinators on highway rights-of-way, and plan and design new wildlife crossings.

Healthy Streets Program: $500 million over five years ($100 million a year) for a new trust fund-financed grant program that can be used for cool and porous pavements and expanding tree cover in order to mitigate urban heat islands, improve air quality, and reduce impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff, and flood risks. Priority is given to projects in low-income or disadvantaged communities. Maximum grant amount is $15 million.

Invasive Plant Elimination: $250 million over five years to eliminate or control existing invasive plants along transportation corridors.

Support for Pollinators: $10 million over five years to benefit pollinators on roadsides and highway rights-of-way.

Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program: $350 million over five years from the Highway Trust Fund. At least 60% of funding must go to projects in rural areas. Projects must seek to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity for terrestrial and aquatic species.

There are also some first steps to address the environmental and social inequities in cities created by divisive highways. The Reconnecting Communities program provides $1 billion to reconnect communities through multi-modal transportation options, including boulevard-like green spaces.

The legislation will also create five new Stormwater Centers of Excellence. These will enable exploration of new types of nature-based green infrastructure methods to improve existing designs and strategies for financing and rate-setting, public outreach, and professional training.

For the full article in ASLA’s newsletter, The Dirt, click here. Photo of Brooklyn Bridge Park from Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. (The Park received a 2009 ASLA Analysis and Planning Honor Award.)