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Transportation Empowerment Pilot

The Ladders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment Pilot LadderSTEP 2015-2016 Report highlights the progress of 7 cities to achieve upward mobility through transportation decisions in their communities.

DOT launched the place-based LadderSTEP program in 2015 to foster sustainable economic development related to planned transportation projects. The pilot’s goal was to build and restore connections, develop workforce capacity, and catalyze neighborhood revitalization in seven cities—Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Charlotte, NC; Indianapolis, IN; Phoenix, AZ; and Richmond, VA.

USDOT worked with the Mayors’ Offices of each city to select a “game-changing” project, convene local stakeholders to engage in the effort, discuss the local vision, and identify opportunities for the pilot project. DOT worked with each of the Mayors’ Offices and relevant stakeholders to create a city work plan to establish a timeline and institute clear goals and strategies for the project. FHWA Division Office and FTA Regional Office staff provided technical assistance to each city in advancing their project goals.

The report cites significant accomplishments achieved by cities, federal partners and Resource Groups through LadderSTEP. Learn more at

LadderSTEP Overview

To help build and restore connections, develop workforce capacity, and catalyze neighborhood revitalization, DOT is launching the Ladders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment Pilot in seven U.S. cities.

LadderSTEP will provide technical assistance and work to attract public and private resources to game-changing community transportation projects. By bringing together mayors, other local officials, non-profit organizations, private investors, DOT will demonstrate that our Ladders Of Opportunity goals are well within reach of communities across America.


In Atlanta, the city is looking to stimulate transit-oriented development in the Vine City neighborhood, which has two MARTA located near possible future expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine bike-ped trail and the city's streetcar. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are providing enhanced technical assistance to the city to improve road and sidewalk infrastructure to boost safety and increase access to transit.

West BaltimoreBaltimore

LadderSTEP will focus on the area near the West Baltimore MARC Station, where existing transportation access provides a good starting point for neighborhood revitalization. DOT will work with the city to reconnect West Baltimore to downtown, a connection severed decades ago by a highway that was never completed.

Baton Rouge

The city of Baton Rouge is currently planning a Nicholson Street Corridor streetcar line. FTA will help the city navigate the planning and environmental analysis to select the best alignment for the line. FHWA will train city engineers in Complete Streets standards to complement the corridor.

Wesley Heights along West Trade in CharlotteCharlotte

DOT will maintain its support for phase two of the city's Gold Line Streetcar, which will run through the West Trade Area and reconnect this community to the city's thriving Uptown. DOT will also work with HUD and the Charlotte Housing Authority to ensure that housing decisions and transportation decisions are made in concert with each other.


Indianapolis is planning to construct a BRT route to connect the Downtown employment hub to population centers to the north and south of the city. FTA will work with the city as it pursues the Small Starts funding to catalyze construction of this transit corridor.

South Phoenix Phoenix

The South Phoenix area is a diverse, transit-dependent community. As an older part of the Phoenix, it has existing infrastructure needs. DOT will help the city implement a 2014 TIGER grant to plan for the future construction of light rail in the South Central Corridor —a high local priority— as well as street and bus stop improvements.


Greater Richmond Transit Company is building the city's first Bus Rapid Transit line, a 7.6-mile corridor between the city and Henrico County. Importantly, the Broad Street BRT line will provide frequent, reliable and fast service —and access to 77,000 area employment opportunities— for transit-dependent residents in Richmond's Greater Fulton community.

These are DOT's seven LadderSTEP pilot cities. And in each of these communities, we'll work tirelessly to build Ladders Of Opportunity that area residents need and that all Americans deserve.

Updated: Friday, January 20, 2017
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