MORPC Breaks New Ground with Policy

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The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) approved its Complete Streets Policy last week. Every roadway project that receives MORPC-attributable federal funding will be designed to provide accommodations for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and other users of all ages and abilities on the same road. MORPC is the largest MPO to adopt this comprehensive complete streets approach to its projects.

MORPC has long been a proponent of creating a multimodal, safe, and efficient transportation system that ensures accessibility to all roadway users, and was an early advocate of routinely accommodating bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The new Complete Streets Policy covers all modes and all users of all ages and abilities, in line with the region’s focus on sustainable land use development integrated with multimodal transportation planning. “We believe this policy is vital in making our communities more accessible to everyone, whether they are old, young, or disabled. It will improve the health of our residents and make more jobs and everyday destinations accessible by transit,” remarked Chester R. Jourdan, Jr., MORPC Executive Director.

The new policy provides a negotiated approach for projects to adhere to Complete Streets principles while being sensitive to project site and other constraints. A thorough explanation of the project review and appeal processes are included, keeping the policy flexible and context sensitive. MORPC staff will work with project sponsors throughout project development to ensure requirements are met and to provide assistance and flexibility where needed.

Sponsors are required to complete an accompanying checklist to ensure compliance with the policy and existing design standards. The checklist goes beyond project development: it considers access during construction, how maintenance and operation will keep all users in mind, and recommends a public input process with potential stakeholders. Over the next year, a detailed toolkit of model policies, sample design standards, land use and zoning practices, and educational and enforcement strategies will be developed to assist project sponsors in following the policy and instituting their own.

MORPC’s policy includes several best practices in accountable public policy. Information on projects’ compliance with the Complete Streets Policy will be publicly available. MORPC recommends its member jurisdictions and the State of Ohio adopt comprehensive Complete Streets policies consistent with its own. Projects that draw from funding sources outside federal dollars are also encouraged to adhere to the policy. Staff will review the policy annually, ensuring its effectiveness and clarity of purpose.

This thoughtful and comprehensive policy will lead to genuine on-the-ground changes in the Columbus region and is a leading model for agencies across the country.

Complete Streets