There is a bill in Congress, HR 2724, that could shape the way we build in the future.  Here’s a summary of the bill per THOMAS (Click HERE if you want the full text):

National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009 – Establishes: (1) national transportation objectives to provide a 21st century vision for the national surface transportation system, including to promote energy efficiency and achieve energy security, ensure environmental protection and safety for all transportation users, improve economic competitiveness and transportation system conditions, and provide equal access to transportation in urban, suburban, and rural communities; and (2) national transportation performance targets to meet such objectives, including to reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 16% and transportation-generated carbon dioxide levels by 40%, triple walking, biking, and public transportation use, increase freight transportation provided by railroad and intermodal services by 20%, and improve public safety and lower congestion costs by reducing traffic crashes by 50%.

Directs the Secretary of Transportation to: (1) develop baseline levels and appropriate data collection systems for meeting the national transportation performance targets; and (2) develop and implement a National Surface Transportation Performance Plan.

As a fan of denser urban development, this is, I think good news.  Activist organizations like Transportation for America are particularly enthused.  I am not an activitst…nor do I believe in global warming (shock! horror!) and I believe that carbon dioxide is good for plants.  I do believe in developing responsibly.  If we can build our communities in such a way that the use of fossil fuels is lessened, that is a good thing.  If we can plan our growth around nodes of public transportation and increase biking and walking, that is a good thing.  Mind you, this is not to commit sociology by site planning, but it can’t help but lead to a healthier society.  Historically, transportation funding has been all about how many roads get built.  It is about time that we start looking at other aspects of our transportation infrastructure…this is a nice first step.