The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the Rural category was scheduled be awarded to Gateway 1 and the Maine Department of Transportation on Dec. 1, according to a press release.

Gateway 1 Project Administrator Stacy Benjamin and Implementation Steering Committee Chairman Don White of Camden were at the award ceremonies at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., along with the other Smart Growth Award recipients. In all, five Smart Growth Achievement Awards were to be presented. Other recipients are from Baltimore, Md.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco and New York City.

This honor is a first for Maine and recognizes the hundreds of volunteer and professional hours that have gone into creating the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan. The application for the award was submitted by the planning consultant team, led by Uri Avin and with support from Kat Beaudoin.

Through the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, EPA recognizes and supports communities that use innovative policies and strategies to strengthen their economies, provide housing and transportation choices, develop in ways that bring benefits to a wide range of residents, and protect the environment. According to EPA, these award winners embody the principles behind EPA’s work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Smart Growth development practices support national environmental goals by preserving open spaces and parkland and protecting critical habitat; improving transportation choices which reduce emissions, including walking, bicycling, and transit; promoting brownfield redevelopment; and reducing impervious surfaces, which improves water quality.

In the press release, White acknowledged Kat Beaudoin of Maine DOT who was instrumental in pioneering the concept through the department. He recognized the 20 communities “who believed in the concept and helped it off the ground” and mentioned Commissioner David Cole, the Federal Highway Administration, and Paul Godfrey and the consultant team, including Uri Avin, Carol Morris, Kevin Hooper, and Evan Richert for their efforts working with the communities to develop the plan.

“The leadership and participation of Kat Beaudoin, Chris Mann and other MaineDOT staff Liz Hertz and MacGregor Stocco of the Maine State Planning Office, and the regional planning organizations are greatly appreciated,” White said. “A special recognition goes to the many, many volunteers who thrashed through the details to get us more than halfway to our goal of forming a Gateway1 Corridor Coalition.”

White said it was time to continue to motivate and educate community leaders and residents that the Gateway 1 program is right for them.

“Why would 20 independent towns, anxious to protect their tax base and autonomy, band together in the Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition and agree to all these stipulations as outlined in the plan?” he wrote. “Because their leverage on future Maine DOT investments as a group vastly outweighs their power as individual small cities and towns. Because they realize that their rural and scenic character, a bedrock values and a fundamental economic driver, can only be protected through a concerted action. Working together, we can more easily navigate the complicated world of transportation and land use issues.”