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The Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC) adopted a policy to ensure that new roadway construction and transportation improvements take pedestrians, bicycle riders and transit users into account. It is the first policy of its kind that covers both the rural and urban regions of the county, and it is already considered as a model for other transportation planning councils in the state and in the nation.
”There are different transportation planning needs for rural areas,” says Eve Nelson, the Senior Transportation Planner for the Spokane Regional Transportation Council. “We developed a context-sensitive design approach, which is a balanced approach. We look at the surrounding environment and make planning decisions based on road volume and destinations in the area. Some rural roads are low volume, but if there is a school, there may need to be a sidewalk. And some rural highways have fast moving traffic with no shoulders. Going forward, we may want to add more road width for non-motorized transportation or for safety, such as a place to pull off to change a flat tire.” Any jurisdiction that applies for funding through SRTC for construction or reconstruction projects will be required to fill out a checklist that accompanies the Complete Streets policy to show how their plans meet the policy’s requirements.
According to James Kissee, Physical Activity Coordinator for the Washington State Department of Health’s Healthy Eating, Active Living Program, “This regional policy is more comprehensive than the City of Spokane’s or the county’s policy. State transportation funds have to be reviewed by regional transportation authorities, and they have a checklist for compliance. They even have an evaluation provision to monitor subsequent improvements – which is rare even nationally.”
Kissee’s program provided two modest grants to assist SRTC with developing the policy and checklist. Nelson points out that getting the grants was crucial during the recent time of statewide budget challenges. “The grants gave me the opportunity to present Safe and Complete Streets as a line item in the budget because we had dollars attached,” she says.
Going forward, Nelson will work to incorporate the Safe and Complete Streets Policy into the long range plan. There are also plans for evaluation to track the policy’s impact by measuring the increasing miles of sidewalks and bicycle networks. As additional transit becomes available, Nelson plans to track ridership and find other measures to track the success of the policy.
Featured: December 2012
Spokane County Residents