Community Visioning Program recognized for excellence in transportation design

Left: The underpass along Highway 63 in Hudson allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross safely to and from the school and athletic fields. Right: Volunteers built and maintain the trail in Box Park in Belle Plaine.

The significant impact of the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program on small communities was recognized at the 2023 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Central States Conference held April 19–21 in Fayetteville, AR, where the program earned a merit award for excellence in transportation design.

This award follows on the heels of an honor award the program received from the Iowa Chapter of ASLA in the fall of 2022.

The Community Visioning Program is the collaborative effort of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED), the nonprofit advocacy organization Trees Forever, private-sector landscape architects, and community stakeholders.

Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation since 1996, Community Visioning is a participatory planning process that helps small Iowa communities create plans to improve walkability and bikeability, provide access for all ages and abilities, manage stormwater, and enhance the environment as it relates to transportation infrastructure. The program targets communities with populations under 10,000, which often lack the resources and expertise needed to design and complete these types of projects. 

To date, 258 communities have participated, 40 of which have completed the process more than once. Program evaluations, surveys, and interviews have revealed that 98% of visioning communities complete at least one project, with nearly 50% completing four or more projects. Seventy-five percent of visioning communities funded their projects through local efforts. Communities also relied on state-funded programs, receiving more than $27 million between 1996 and 2021 from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Great Places, Wellmark, AARP, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and various community foundations.

QR code to the Community Visioning Program website's application page.

Applications for 2024 now online!

Information and an online application are available to communities interested in participating in the 2024 program on the Community Visioning website (visit or scan the QR code).