Last month, the Federal Highway Administration put forward a great idea.
The agency, which oversees the design of millions of miles of roads in the United States, proposed a new rule which would dramatically ease federal design standards for many of those roadways. It’s a move that would make a Complete Streets approach significantly easier for communities across the country.
Currently, communities and states that want to use a Complete Streets approach on federal aid roads face an arduous process of requesting exceptions. Even simple things like adding trees or design cues to slow traffic can require formal exemptions from current requirements.
FHWA recognized these challenges, and thoroughly reviewed its design criteria for streets with speed limits under 50 miles per hour. Many of the streets that fit this description serve as a town’s main street or run through residential neighborhoods. So it’s particularly crucial to make these streets as safe as possible for people walking, biking, using assistive devices, or taking transit.
The proposed rule would reduce the design requirements for these streets from 13 to just 2. According to FHWA, the criteria they’re proposing to eliminate have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and are more useful for designing freeways, highways and higher speed urban arterials.
FHWA is currently accepting comments on this rule, and we want them to know they have strong support for it. We want to deliver a huge stack of letters to FHWA’s offices: take a moment and sign a letter to the agency today.