Caltrans Is Completing the Streets!

Today’s blog post was written by the California Department of Transportation, which first adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2001 and issued a more comprehensive policy in 2008.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is moving ahead to make the Golden State’s highways safer, more livable, and inviting to pedestrians, bicyclists, the disabled, public transportation users, and motorists.

Through implementation of new projects and policies, Caltrans strives to make streets usable for everyone.

Caltrans defines a complete street as a transportation facility that is planned, designed, operated, and maintained to provide safe mobility for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and motorists that is appropriate to the function and context of the facility. Caltrans’ intent is to ensure that travelers of all ages and abilities can move safely and efficiently along and across a network of complete streets.

To make that goal a reality, Caltrans is building projects that include complete streets elements, and has been successful in completing many of them around the state. “We are proud of our complete streets efforts,” said Martin Tuttle, Deputy Director for Planning and Modal Programs at Caltrans, “and clearly see the mobility, context sensitivity, air quality, and active health benefits that are a direct result of these projects. Our goal is to incorporate complete streets to enhance travelers’ routes throughout California.”

One way Caltrans promotes complete streets implementation is through the Complete Intersections Guide (.pdf), which is a comprehensive and easy-to-follow tool that identifies actions that will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at intersections and interchanges, where mobility and safety concerns can be challenging.

In addition, Caltrans also recently appointed two new members to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee. These key representatives will ensure all roadway users’ concerns are considered in the decision-making process for signs, markings, and signals on all roads in California.

Finally, an upcoming revision of the Highway Design Manual will include significant updates to complete streets. Part of the 2010 complete streets implementation action plan, the revision will be finished this year and used not only by Caltrans but California cities and counties as well.

A half-million dollar project pared down a four-lane segment of State Route 225 in Santa Barbara to two lanes with a new center turn lane and bike lanes.

photo: Adam Fukushima, Caltrans

Caltrans partnered with the City of Arcata to make pedestrian and bicycle improvements on the Samoa Gateway project on State Route 255. These improvements are part of the $1.7 million construction project enhancing travel for all users in the north coast area.

photos: Caltrans

Caltrans worked with a local jurisdiction to install bicycle lanes in either direction on a 3.2-mile segment of the Pacific Coast Highway in southern California.

photo: Thomas Ritter, Caltrans
photo: Thomas Ritter, Caltrans

Lastly, Caltrans had motorists and bicyclists in mind – on the Mission Gorge Road detour in Santee. Staff peddled bikes on the proposed detour to ensure it minimized out-of-direction travel before directing the public there. The detour amounted to a fraction of the total project cost and increased work zone safety.

photos: Caltrans

These are just a few examples of the priority that Caltrans places on complete streets in projects.Our Complete Streets Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committee are setting priorities for the continued implementation of our complete streets. Evolving priorities will still reflect the need to consider all transportation improvements (new and retrofit) as opportunities to increase safety, access, and mobility for all travelers and to recognize bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system.

Complete Streets