Friday, January 15, 2010

Complete Streets Legislation on the Horizon

Legislation being sponsored this session by Rep. Jim Moeller would codify a Complete Streets policy in Washington. Although more than 100 agencies around the country have adopted some kind of Complete Streets policy, Washington would join Oregon as national leaders that have passed a state Complete Streets law if the bill passes.

What Are Complete Streets?

Complete Streets are roadways designed to efficiently and safely move people using all appropriate modes of transportation, including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, and public transportation users. Rather than apply a single pre-determined design to every corridor, planners work together with communities to develop project designs that are appropriate for the context and intended function of the roadway. The result is a streetscape that is safer and more accessible for all users while promoting livable communities.

What Will Complete Streets Do For Washington?
  • Promote Healthy Communities - Investments to encourage walking and biking promote public transportation use and positive public health outcomes.
  • Improve Public Safety - Common Complete Street design tools such as well-marked crosswalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, and reduced traffic speeds help make the roadway environment safer for all users.
  • Preserve Local Character - The Complete Street design process emphasizes engaging local stakeholders earlier in the planning process to ensure designs reflect the aesthetic, historic, or scenic character of individual communities. Early community involvement also results in fewer cost overruns and project delays.
  • Protect Our Environment - Easier and safer access for bicyclists and pedestrians incentivizes non-motorized modes of transportation, resulting in reduced air pollution, traffic congestion, and carbon emissions.
If enacted, the legislation would position Washington strongly to compete for future federal funds designated for Complete Streets.

The proposed legislation has three components:

1. Defines a Complete Streets policy and establishes it as a broad policy goal.

2. Creates a grant program within WSDOT's Highways and Local Programs division to serve as a receptor of future federal and state funds. Funds would be distributed to local retrofit projects in cities that have adopted Complete Streets ordinances.

3. Establishes a new WSDOT policy that the agency will use Complete Streets guidelines on future retrofits of state highway corridors that serve as material arterials and main streets in local communities.

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