Friday, December 9, 2011

Combating the Myth That Complete Streets Are Too Expensive

Last week several of us in Lee County participated in this excellent webinar sponsored by the National Complete Streets Coalition. The speakers included Norm Steinman from the Charlotte Department of Transportation, someone who provided valuable assistance to BikeWalkLee as it was working on the Lee County complete streets resolution. The webinar provided information about the low cost of many complete streets treatments, as well as ways to communicate about the added value and community support that result from complete streets implementation.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill
December 8, 2011
by Tanya Snyder

Live in a town where bicyclists and pedestrians are personas non grata and buses get stuck in automobile congestion? Do you put on your walking boots only to find that your city’s street design conveys the message, “These roads were made for driving?” It’s time for a complete streets upgrade, then – but often, when concerned citizens propose accommodating other road users on the streets, local officials tell them it’s just too expensive.

Are complete streets really too expensive? According to Norm Steinman, planning and design manager for the Charlotte Department of Transportation, design elements to turn an incomplete street into one that accommodates all users are usually a very low percentage of the total cost of street planning, design, and construction. “Sidewalks will turn out to be somewhere around 3 percent of that compilation of costs,” he said last week in a seminar sponsored by the National Complete Streets Coalition for communities participating in the CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work program. “Bicycle lanes, around 5 percent — and that’s adding bicycle lanes, of course, to both sides of the street.”

“On the other hand,” Steinman said, “reducing the width of a lane by a foot can reduce the costs by 2 percent.” Indeed, in Richfield, Minnesota, when 76th Street needed to be rebuilt following work on the sewer lines, the city decided to implement a “road diet.” Narrowing the street shaved $2 million off the estimated $6 million cost of the sewer work – while at the same time improving mobility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists and making for a more enjoyable community.

The National Complete Streets Coalition suggests four points to help local transportation officials understand that complete street goals can be achieved without exorbitant costs:
o complete streets add lasting value
o complete streets improvements can be achieved within existing transportation budgets
o complete streets are necessary to accomodate existing users
o complete streets can upon up new transportation funding opportunities

Click here to read the full post. If you're interested in seeing the handout materials, let me know:

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.