Governor M. Jodi Rell signed Senate Bill 735, the Complete Streets bill, into law on Independence Day; the bill passed through the General Legislature last month, with both houses voting overwhelming in favor of the legislation. With that, Connecticut has become the tenth state to pass complete streets legislation and the second this year.
Effective immediately, the law mandates “accommodations for all users shall be a routine part of the planning, design, construction and operating activities” of all state highways. Beginning October 2010, 1% of transportation funding will be dedicated to construction of complete streets elements.
“Walking and bicycling are more than healthy lifestyle choices – for many Connecticut commuters, they are the way to get to work,” Governor Rell said. “We want to encourage that, not only because it’s good for personal fitness but because it removes congestion from our highways and pollutants – including greenhouse gases – from our skies. The bill also dovetails neatly with my Administration’s emphasis on smart growth and transit-oriented development, which calls for communities that make it easier for people to get to work, home and shopping without having to drive.”
The law also establishes an 11-member Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, tasked with “examining the need for bicycle and pedestrian transportation, promoting programs and facilities for bicycles and pedestrians in this state, and advising appropriate agencies of the state on policies, programs and facilities for bicycles and pedestrians.” The Board is also responsible for yearly reports on progress made statewide in improving the environment for bicycling and walking and make recommendations.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation will also be required to report – once by October 1, 2009, and again by October 1, 2010 – on bicycle and pedestrian projects that have been funded by state funds and federal programs, including the Interstate Maintenance Program, the National Highway Safety Program, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and the Transportation Enhancement Program. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign reports that ConnDOT largely relied on federal earmarks to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects in the past, often ignoring other federal programs.