The nearly 70% of roads on the National Highway System that are not access-controlled freeways yet serve a wide variety of road users and purposes, are the focus of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Complete Streets initiative. Recently, FHWA released a comprehensive report to Congress that addresses five overarching opportunity areas that will help the agency advance implementation of the Complete Streets design model.
A key goal of FHWA is to increase the proportion of federally funded transportation projects that are routinely planned, designed, built, and operated as Complete Streets.
The mission of the Complete Streets initiative is to provide an equitable and safe transportation network for travelers of all ages and abilities, including vulnerable road users and those from underserved communities that have faced historic disinvestment, notes the FHWA.
Through its plan, the FHWA offers insights on the design, construction, and operation of safe roads and on countermeasures that encourage safe speeds.
Some of the key roadways addressed in the initiative include most arterials in urban areas and many small-town main streets. The intent is to boost safety on these roads and reduce fatalities. Presently, the nation is experiencing a crisis in traffic fatalities and Complete Streets will have a positive impact on protecting drivers, motor vehicle passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and all road users.
One goal of FHWA’s Complete Streets initiative is to increase the proportion of transportation projects that states and other federal-aid highway funding recipients routinely plan, design, build, and operate that are safe and accessible for all users. As the report to Congress documents, FHWA has begun assessing and revising its own policies, regulations, processes, and practices to make it easier for state and local agencies to advance and build Complete Streets. FHWA’s Complete Streets initiative will address five overarching opportunity areas:
- Improve data collection and analysis to advance safety for all users.
- Support rigorous safety assessment during project development and design to help prioritize safety outcomes across all project types.
- Accelerate adoption of standards and guidance that promote safety and accessibility for all users and support innovation in design.
- Reinforce the primacy of safety for all users in the interpretation of design standards, guidelines, and project review processes.
- Make Complete Streets FHWA’s default approach for funding and designing non-access-controlled roadways.
Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states and local governments have access to new tools and resources that allow them to build Complete Streets. This includes a requirement that states and metropolitan planning organizations use at least 2.5% of their planning funding on activities related to Complete Streets or travel on foot, by bike, in a vehicle, or using public transit.