The Montgomery County Planning Commission (MCPC), working with a host of public, non-profit, and industry leaders, developed a Complete Streets policy for county-owned roads, bridges, and facilities. The policy calls for MCPC to advocate for a Complete Streets design approach when working with partner agencies on their projects, whether public or private.
WHAT ARE COMPLETE STREETS?
According to Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition, “Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.”
WHY ARE THEY BENEFICIAL?
Complete Streets allow people who do not drive or cannot drive to move about their communities, no matter their age or ability. Complete Streets typically improve safety for all users, no matter their travel mode, and can reduce transportation costs and traffic problems when properly designed. The best Complete Streets include innovations to manage stormwater and can mitigate other environmental impacts and help with place making by creating enjoyable places for people to walk, bike, and linger. All of these benefits are consistent with a number of the goals in Montgomery County’s comprehensive plan, Montco 2040: A Shared Vision, such as “Improve transportation quality and expand options for county residents and workers,” “Improve transportation access to businesses,” and “Improve stormwater management and reduce the impact of flooding.”
WHY DOES THE COUNTY HAVE A COMPLETE STREETS POLICY?
When the county conducted a public survey during the drafting of Montco 2040, increasing walkability was a recurring comment when asked what people desired from where they lived and from the county overall. That public demand led to the creation of the Walk Montco: Montgomery County Walkability Study a year later, which articulates how the county can achieve that goal. This was followed by Bike Montco: The Bicycle Plan for Montgomery County with one of its goals being the creation of a county Complete Streets policy. This initiative helps achieve all of the goals, encapsulating into a consistent policy how the county will go about making its streets safer for those who choose not to drive or who cannot drive.
Primarily, this policy guides how Montgomery County will upgrade and improve its roads, bridges, and other facilities, such as parks and buildings, making them accessible to all travel modes where practical. This policy also directs county departments to advocate and petition for Complete Streets on projects where the department is not the lead agency but has a seat at the table in the decision-making process.
HOW CAN THIS BENEFIT COMMUNITIES?
Montgomery County owns 75 miles of roadway and 133 bridges located in two-thirds of all municipalities in the county. Local communities will directly benefit when county-owned roads and facilities are reconstructed using the best Complete Streets design practices that are practically possible. The county’s Complete Streets policy provides a model that local communities can follow/emulate. If a municipality decides to compose its own Complete Streets policy, the MCPC staff, with its experience in the process, can assist the municipality.
June 26, 2019 Webinar
MCPC and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) offered a free webinar to introduce interested municipal officials, design professionals, and citizens to the policy and to discuss how it may affect local roadway design in communities.