2009 May 9The New Conventional Wisdom: The Best Streets Need Planners, Not Just Engineers
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With federal stimulus money spurring road projects across the country, an encouraging trend is quietly revolutionizing the way communities approach these projects: thoughtful PLANNING of roadways is now as much a consideration as engineering.

The movement reverses a half-century of road construction focused primarily around cars and more carefully considers the impact of streets on pedestrians, local businesses, school children, the disabled and elderly. This is a victory for Planning Commissions and others working toward “Complete Streets,” or streets that allow all people to travel easily from home to work to school to shopping to entertainment - improving the safety, vitality and prosperity of local communities.

Complete Streets

Complete Streets include inviting and well-lit sidewalks; safe, well-marked cross-walks; pedestrian-friendly intersections; bike lanes; transit stations and other amenities that distinguish America’s most successful communities. Complete Streets promote interest in local storefronts, connections among neighbors, and safe walking by seniors, children and the disabled. They also calm traffic, revitalize local businesses and improve public health by encouraging walking and biking while reducing the use of gasoline.

Federal Support for Complete Streets

Federal lawmakers in both houses of Congress have joined in support of Complete Streets, introducing bills requiring consideration of Complete Streets policies in future transportation plans. The new U.S. Traffic Calming Manual (APA Planners Press, 2009) - just co-published by planners and engineers - suggests that communities are now demanding that new transportation projects consider not only a road’s ability to carry traffic, but also its social, economic, and cultural impact.

Contact Your Planner or Landscape Architect

McKenna can help develop policies, plans, and projects to complete your streets. Often upgrades can be integrated into a regular capital improvements program. Federal or state grant funding may be available for larger projects. Contact your McKenna planner at 888.226.4326 or info@mcka.com about Complete Streets for your community.