Quick-build demonstration projects

Quick-build demonstration projects are temporary installations to test new street design improvements that improve safety and accessibility

They can be used to explore how a community might slow speeds, create new connections, or encourage more walking and biking. They give space for practitioners to test new ideas and innovative best practices. They’re a great way to engage the community to gather real-time feedback on a potential design, surfacing potential concerns from those who might be hesitant to support a permanent project. Their low-cost temporary nature also allows communities to explore designs before committing to potential permanent changes to existing infrastructure.1

Federal funding is available to support local quick-build projects
The Safe Streets and Roads for All program can provide funding for quick-build demonstrations, and there are more than a billion dollars available, provided directly to local communities. Learn more here.

Why do a quick-build demonstration project? What are the potential benefits?

These quick, light, flexible, and adaptable projects use designs that are proven to make streets safer, and they have numerous benefits:

  • Improve safety overnight on dangerous corridors or intersections
  • Cheaply test specific designs, interventions, and materials
  • Engage everyone involved throughout the process—community members, transportation staff, elected leaders
  • Develop new knowledge and partnerships
  • Gather valuable feedback on designs
  • Build support for an even better permanent project
  • Encourage the use of other transportation modes or different travel patterns

Making tangible changes to streets, even if temporary, is a powerful way to demonstrate that people’s lives matter and that solving the crisis of traffic fatalities and severe injuries needs creativity, immediate action, and commitment. Doing quick-build projects helps foster innovation and creativity, improves the likelihood of a permanent project being built, and moves the needle toward safer roadway designs as the default.

Quick-build demonstrations can move the needle on more than just safety. To learn more about the wide-ranging benefits of incorporating a Complete Streets approach, click here.

What does a quick-build demonstration look like?

No two quick-build demonstration projects are exactly alike, because every community and context is unique. While similar materials or a rough design might be emulated from elsewhere, the first guiding principle of these projects is that each one should reflect the community’s specific needs, vision, and culture through creativity and innovation.

Watch the story of a specific demonstration project we helped support in Wenatchee, WA, and see how the demonstration ultimately led to a permanent project that had deep community support.

Our extensive experience

Over the last decade and through a number of initiatives, The National Complete Streets Coalition at Smart Growth America has assisted 22 places across 14 states with their quick-build projects. You can read reports about some of those programs below, with a link to some project profiles:

Safe Streets Academy (2017-2018)
Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy (2018-2019)
Washington Complete Streets Leadership Academy (2020-2021)
Complete Streets Leadership Academies (2022-2024)

Explore our past projects

The Complete Streets Leadership Academy report cover featuring an animated complete street, with a bike lane, bus lane, and sidewalk surrounding a street with lots of active people.In 2022, Smart Growth America launched the Complete Streets Leadership Academies in Alaska, California, Connecticut, and Tennessee to equip and train local agencies and state departments of transportation to collaborate, innovate, and commit to making changes together to address safety on these dangerous state-owned roads. Cohorts were selected to plan and implement “quick-build” demonstration projects, a way to pilot and test new ideas and street designs to activate streets and better support walking, biking, and rolling.

Read the report