Upper Peninsula progress and state-wide web resources were featured at the most recent Complete Streets Advisory Council meeting, which also included MDOT updates on transportation revenue and its Complete Streets Policy implementation. (What are complete streets?)
Jeff Holt of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians started the meeting off on a positive note with a presentation of complete street successes in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The Sault Tribe has made complete streets a key component of revitalization efforts in communities like Newberry, St. Ignace, Sault St. Marie, and Kinross. Faced with deteriorating and outdated transportation infrastructure, the Sault Tribe has taken a proactive approach to creating a transportation system that facilitates both motorized and non-motorized users. Holt credited this progress to champions within the planning and development department and healthy working relationships between Tribe, county, municipal, and township partners. The communities Holt mentioned have embraced complete streets, with Newberry, Sault St. Marie, and Kinross passing complete street resolutions, and St. Ignace passing a complete streets ordinance. Community members now have the opportunity to realize the many benefits of complete streets, and Holt presented several figures that suggest residents are taking full advantage of the improved system through increased use, walking and biking programs, bike festivals, and community exercise campaigns.
A transportation revenue update by Frank Raha of MDOT was up next on the agenda, which served mostly to remind the Council and those attending that Michigan faces a sizable shortfall in transportation funding, needing an additional $1.2 Billion per year in transportation investment. This shortfall greatly affects complete street efforts across the state. Various proposals to close this gap have been presented, including increasing registration fees, wholesale gasoline taxes, and increases in sales taxes. Raha said that although it looks like no movement on transportation funding will happen this year, it is crucial for constituents to reach out to legislators and push for funding that will enable complete streets.
Trans4M member John Lindenmayer of the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB) then presented an overview of complete street web resources at the Michigan Coalition for Complete Streets webpage. Led by LMB, the Michigan Environmental Council, and AARP, the Coalition represents over 100 organizations, individuals, and businesses. It promotes complete streets policy, and provides resources to communities that would like to adopt complete street initiatives. The site’s Policy Finder provides an easy-to-use, interactive listing of communities across the state that have adopted complete street ordinances and resolutions, along with the actual documents. The site’s Resources page provides documents, presentations, and fact sheets that would be invaluable to communities starting in fresh with complete streets. Updates to the site are going on now, and look for a new blog series on complete street elements—coming soon!
MDOT wrapped up the meeting with a brief update from its Complete Streets Internal Team, tasked with creating an implementation plan for the Complete Streets Policy adopted in July of last year. The implementation plan must be available by December 31st of this year, and the Team is on track to meet that goal. Training of MDOT staff on complete streets is in the works, and a public MDOT Complete Streets website is slated to debut at the end of the 1st quarter next year.
The next Complete Streets Advisory Council Meeting will be December 5th, 2013, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Capital Commons buildings. For more information, go to http://www.michigan.gov/completestreets