A version of this article appeared in the November 2012 print issue with the headline: Greening America's Capitals.

Five cities, all state capitals, will receive design assistance from the federal government this year to help produce sustainable communities projects. The cities are participating in the Greening America's Capitals program from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Helena, Mont., will receive design assistance to improve walkability and to add bicycle lanes along Last Chance Gulch, a street that connects the northern part of the business district with the historic downtown. The project will also explore design alternatives for a five-way intersection to enhance walkability.

"Getting a fresh perspective will have a lot of value," says Sharon Haugen, Helena's community development director, who adds that other portions of Helena also have older streets that can benefit from any lessons learned.

This is the third year of the EPA program, designed to create healthy, prosperous communities through green development. The program seeks to stimulate economic development, provide more housing and transportation choices, and reduce infrastructure and energy costs. Through the project, EPA will provide design assistance from private-sector experts to help capital cities demonstrate sustainable designs to create vibrant neighborhoods.

Frankfort, Ky., will also receive assistance from the EPA program to enhance walkability and to add bicycle lanes between the city's historic downtown and the state capitol. The project will also connect the downtown with the proposed Kentucky River trail.

Maya DeRosa, Frankfort's planning supervisor, says groundwork had already been laid for the new project in the course of implementing other initiatives. "This was a great opportunity to further capitalize on the momentum of our previous work," says DeRosa. There is no specific monetary amount associated with the grant, but DeRosa estimates the value of the provided services might total $50,000 to $60,000.

Other cities selected to receive assistance in 2012 are:

Des Moines, Iowa, which will receive assistance to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed streetscape plan near the city's downtown.

Baton Rouge, La., which will receive assistance to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed walking and biking trail connecting Louisiana State University with the city's downtown.

Indianapolis, which will receive assistance to make streets more pedestrian-friendly and revitalize public plazas within and adjacent to the Market Square redevelopment area.

Larry Anderson is a Georgia-based freelance writer.