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The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson wrote an article on Complete Streets that appeared in the May 2012 New Jersey Municipalities magazine:

NJDOT hits the road to educate local officials about Complete Streets

When it comes to Complete Streets, New Jersey is leading the way toward safety for all who share the road. The policy adopted by NJDOT in 2009 has earned high praise for New Jersey and is being used as a model by other states as they craft their own policies.

The Christie Administration is taking an important step to advance the goals and objectives of Complete Streets by educating and encouraging local officials to extend the reach of Complete Streets by adopting their own policies.

NJDOT recently announced a series of workshops throughout the state, the first of which was held last month in Essex County. These workshops are being led by a dynamic team of experts who have developed an educational curriculum for local and county decision-makers to learn about the benefits of adopting their own Complete Streets policies and how to design Complete Street improvements. The workshops are being conducted at twelve locations across New Jersey this year. Invitation letters will be sent out to community leaders in every town in the
state.

Workshop participants can expect to achieve a better understanding of Complete Streets, the policy and design issues, and how to create a safer environment for all roadway users in your communities. Participants will learn that while Complete Streets policies are not mandated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it strongly encourages states to embrace Complete Streets ideals. In addition, FHWA now mandates that bicycle and pedestrian accommodations be considered in all projects using federal funds.

The advantage of inserting a dialogue about all street or roadway users at the earliest stages of project development is that it provides the designers and the engineers the best opportunity to create solutions at the most affordable price. It is easier and far less expensive to build it right the first time than to have to retrofit a project after it is built.

Adopting a Complete Streets policy at the local level can go a long way in raising awareness among residents, elected officials and the private sector. When projects are proposed, pedestrian, bicycle and transit accommodations are no longer an afterthought – they become an integral feature of the overall investment plan. The concept is gaining traction statewide. Along with NJDOT, 26 municipalities and one county in New Jersey have followed suit with formal policies in place. The goal of the workshops is to dramatically increase those numbers.

NJDOT is confident that Complete Streets policies will pay off in terms of
increased long-term safety for all users of New Jersey’s roads. The investments we make in good design now will pay dividends for generations.

We increasingly are seeing examples of Complete Streets in our communities. You’ll notice more and improved sidewalks, better markings at crosswalks to put motorists on alert, bike paths where needed, intersection improvements including countdown pedestrian signals and accessible curb cuts at crosswalks to accommodate the mobility impaired. We need to build on this momentum.

However, it is equally easy to find examples of streets and roads virtually
anywhere in the state that would be safer and more conducive to walking and bicycling had Complete Streets principles been woven into the design. I’m not trying to find fault with designers and planners of yesteryear who might not have imagined the intensity of development that would arise along what were once
rural highways.

Today we understand the unrelenting nature of pressure on our land and roads. Complete Streets policies at all levels of New Jersey government will help us build a network of streets and roads that promotes safety and efficiency. I urge local government officials to join us at these workshops and take an active role in adopting Complete Streets.

A good complete streets policy:

  • Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets.
  • Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists, and public
    transportation passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses, and automobiles.
  • Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.
  • Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
  • Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that
    requires high-level approval of exceptions.
  • Directs the use of the latest and best design standards while
    recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.
  • Directs that complete streets solutions compliment the context of
    the community.
  • Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
 
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  Last Updated:  June 29, 2012