Memphis adopts the 500th Complete Streets policy in the U.S.

On August 14th, 2013, the National Complete Streets Coalition will mark the adoption of the country’s 500th Complete Streets policy with an event celebrating the communities across the nation that have committed to building safer, more accessible streets for all users. Please join us for a live video stream of the event’s speakers and panels. In the meantime, we invite you to get in on the conversation at our Facebook page or with the #500policies hashtag on Twitter.

The celebration will be focusing in part on Memphis, Tennessee, whose new Complete Streets measure pushed us over the 500-policy mark. Earlier this year, Mayor A.C. Wharton signed an executive order directing that new road facilities and major renovations in Memphis accommodate all users and all modes. In addition to the development of a new multimodal Street Design Guide, per the executive order, Mayor Wharton announced plans to further expand the city’s bicycle facilities, including construction of 15 miles of new protected bike lanes. This official embrace of Complete Streets is part of a remarkable, citizen-driven turnaround for a city so long built around the automobile that Bicycling magazine twice named it one of America’s worst cities for bicycling.

Remaking streets from the ground up

For years, dedicated Memphians had worked to improve conditions for walking, biking, and transit in the city, but the grassroots movement for safer, more vibrant streets most visibly coalesced a few years ago in the Broad Avenue area in east Memphis. Originally the commercial corridor for nearby railcar manufacturing, Broad Avenue had fallen into neglect by the 1990s, with only a few active businesses in a landscape of fast roads, acres of parking, endless curb cuts, and indistinguishable sidewalks–a bleak environment where nobody would walk if they could help it.

Complete Streets

Video: Bill Fulton on development strategies and taxpayer savings in Nashville, TN

Earlier this week, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation Bill Fulton spoke in Nashville, TN as part of the NashvilleNext speakers series. Watch the full video of his presentation above.

During the talk Fulton detailed Smart Growth America’s analysis of three development scenarios in Nashville-Davidson County. See our earlier posts with the research’s full findings and our Storify recap of the event.

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Bill Fulton speaks about smart growth strategies and unveils new research at Nashville Next

Bill Fulton speaking in Nashville
Bill Fulton speaking last night in Nashville. Photo via Nashville Next.

Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation Bill Fulton spoke in Nashville last night as part of the Nashville Next speaker series.

During the discussion Fulton unveiled new research about development strategies in Nashville, including ways the city could reduce costs and improve its bottom line. Here’s what attendees had to say about the talk.

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New analysis of Nashville area development reveals opportunity for public savings

The Gulch
The Watermark restaurant in The Gulch district in Nashville. The Gulch generated far more revenue per unit than the two other development scenarios. Photo by The Gulch.

Tennessee taxpayers could save money by using smarter development strategies, according to new research published by Smart Growth America.

Fiscal impact analyses of three development scenarios in Nashville-Davidson County, TN (PDF) examines the public costs and benefits of three development scenarios in Nashville-Davidson County: The Gulch, a smart growth oriented development project; Lennox Village, a New Urbanist-style development in a ‘greenfield’ location; and Bradford Hills, a conventional suburban residential subdivision outside of the city.

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Mayor Madeline Rogero on a revitalized Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee is refocusing development toward the city’s historic core and older neighborhoods, and the strategy is driving an economic turnaround for the city.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, a member of the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, says the city has focused on “strong, safe neighborhoods; living green and working green; an energized downtown and job creation and retention” during her time in office. The approach is bringing new businesses and residents to downtown Knoxville.

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Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Ken Moore on balancing preservation with growth in Franklin, Tennessee


Main Street in downtown Franklin, TN. Photo via Flickr.

Franklin, TN’s historic Main Street is more than a pretty place. It exemplifies Franklin’s historic heritage and has become the heart of the city’s new economy.

“We like to say we’re a community that balances preservation with growth,” says Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. Moore is on the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. As a member of the Local Leaders Council, Moore is one of many elected leaders across the country using smart growth strategies to help their hometowns generate better return on taxpayer investment and compete in today’s economy.

Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth America staff, partners, developers, local leaders and allies discuss implementing transit in Middle Tennessee


From right: Smart Growth America’s Geoff Anderson with Ken Rose, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mitchell Silver, American Planning Association; and Arthur Guzzetti, American Public Transportation Association. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Area MPO.  

In 2010 Middle Tennessee’s mayors agreed on a milestone, ten-county vision for transit. Last month, leaders in the region met to talk about how to make those plans a reality.

More than 250 political leaders, transportation and land use planners, transit agency partners, developers, architects, engineers, academics, and non-profit advocates came together on October 25 and 26, 2012 in downtown Nashville to discuss the first steps of implementing the region’s innovative transit plan. The event was organized by the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, and sponsored by Transportation for America, a joint project of Smart Growth America and Reconnecting America.

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Partnership in the News: Downtown Memphis to receive $5.6M more for development

The Main Street to Main Street Multimodal Connector project, a joint regional project between Arkansas and Tennessee, has recently shifted its funding, with $5.6M more going towards Memphis’ downtown development. The money is being re-allocated from Arkansas’ portion of the project.

The money is being provided by the Department of Transportation through a fourth-round of TIGER grants.

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) lobbied for the funding, saying “The $5.6 million in funds being redirected to Downtown Memphis will play an important role in revitalizing downtown,” after the change had been approved.

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Smart Growth America and TDOT: Mapping out Tennessee's transportation future

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jimmywayne.

On August 21, Smart Growth America and the Tennessee Department of Transportation released Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, a detailed policy analysis of Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure and projects.

Tennessee’s leaders are already looking to the document for guidance. “We now have a road map to a better transportation program that will promote job growth, stronger communities and a cleaner environment while using tax dollars more wisely,” Trip Pollard and Anne Davis, both of the Southern Environmental Law Center, wrote in an op-ed in The Tennesseean.

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