How Can You Start to Implement Complete Streets In Your Community?

GSPToday’s post is from Marshall Elizer, P.E., PTOE. Marshall is a Principal with Gresham, Smith and Partners, a Complete Streets Silver Partner.

Gresham, Smith and Partners’ comprehensive transportation planning, design and operations team is focused on enhancing the safety, mobility and livability of communities throughout the country. Our team has designed numerous Complete Street concepts, studies and designs for clients, supporting the notion that consideration of all potential users will increase the capacity and efficiency of networks, improve mobility options, reclaim streets as people-friendly places and support economic development.

Construction is currently underway for the 28th/31st Avenue Connector project designed by GS&P for the Metropolitan Public Works Department of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. The 1/3-mile multi-modal street will provide important connectivity for Nashville’s roadway network and serve as an example of how transportation improvements can support Mayor Dean’s commitment to having the City become one of the greenest, most sustainable cities in the country. In addition to improving connectivity and augmenting a robust set of transportation routes in the midtown area, the connector provides transportation choices. A dedicated bike and pedestrian lane is designed on each side of the street, and there are provisions for new transit services.

From our experience with this project and others, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions of what you can do to implement Complete Streets in your community:

  • Set a Vision — Excite and empower stakeholders and decision-makers by creating a long-term vision for what your corridors can look like. Be sure to address the individual steps it will take to get you there.
  • Change the Culture – Implementing Complete Streets is not just a single workshop, charrette or study. It is a long-term process for changing the culture surrounding transportation, including changes to policies, budgeting practices, etc. Stick with it!
  • Policy Changes — There are a number of policy changes that can allow for the implementation of complete streets gradually as new development and redevelopment come online. These include sidewalk ordinances, adequate public facility ordinances, developer incentives (density bonuses, etc.) and design overlays.
  • Tag-Along Projects -– Many existing projects can create more complete streets at little or no additional cost. For example, a street drainage project could include sidewalks during reconstruction, or a resurfacing project can include bicycle lanes. Scan your capital improvement plans and look for these opportunities.

And, as you continue to champion the idea of Complete Streets, just remember to stay positive. Successful Complete Streets initiatives require positive approaches to get beyond the traditional street design paradigm. If you approach each corridor from the standpoint of “How can we make this work?” vs. “Why it won’t work”, you’ll stand a better chance of having your recommendations see the light of day.

Complete Streets