Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) plans for moving forward with an internal all-out effort on Complete Streets were presented in what was likely the last meeting of the state’s Complete Streets Advisory Council (CSAC) on Thursday, December 5th. The update was another indication that a positive culture shift continues within the agency in regard to planning streets for all users.
Michigan’s Complete Streets Policy implementation plan is nearly finished. The department’s Complete Streets Internal Team is on track to meet its December 31 deadline for rollout of the policy implementation plan, which revises relevant MDOT procedures and guidelines and includes an exception process for projects where policy criteria might not be appropriate, said Brad Peterson of MDOT. Peterson emphasized that outreach will be a major component during the policy’s implementation, including notifications through MDOT’s social media, updated presentations, and a public MDOT Complete Streets webpage tentatively scheduled for early spring 2014.
The plan focuses on project tracking and reporting, and will list MDOT’s Complete Streets accomplishments to date. During policy implementation, MDOT staff will receive training on the policy. Several Advisory Council members thanked Peterson and other MDOT representatives for the Department’s positive culture change regarding Complete Streets.
In addition to the implementation plan, MDOT’s Multi-Modal Design and Delivery (M2D2) project is another avenue the department is using to change its internal culture around Complete Streets and multi-modal transportation.
Roger Millar, vice-president of Smart Growth America and director of the Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, presented an overview of the project. “The project will improve MDOT’s institutional capacity to plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain Michigan’s transportation system for Complete Streets and multiple modes,” Millar said, noting that it was MDOT managers who approached Smart Growth with the desire to create better multi-modal outcomes. M2D2 will result in updated standards that consider multi-modal travel on state trunkline highway facilities, and will provide MDOT staff with the knowledge and tools to effectively implement multi-modal travel. An MDOT staff stakeholder group will be matched with national and in-state experts to better understand barriers, gaps, and opportunities in MDOT’s practices and procedures. From these meetings, Millar said a curriculum will be developed in early spring, workshops will be held in the summer, and recommendations for implementation will be ready by the fall. MDOT plans on communicating lessons learned to other state agencies, regional and local governments, advocacy groups, and the general public.
The meeting ended with a discussion of whether the council should continue to meet. CSAC was legislatively created with the passage of PA 135 2010, and charged to assist the State Transportation Commission with the development and implementation of the Complete Streets Policy. With the policy done and the implementation plan nearly complete, the council has met it charge. Members of the CSAC voted to send a letter to legislative leaders recommending they sunset the Advisory Council. Barring a new charge or further instruction from the legislature, it seems that CSAC will be dissolved, with members continuing to work on Complete Streets through their respective organizations.
The Complete Streets Policy implementation plan and the M2D2 process are signs that MDOT is continuing its culture shift towards accommodating all legal users on its roadways—not just cars. We look forward to the results of these two initiatives and potential benefits to Michigan communities.
Written by: Jeff Prygoski, Trans4M Fellow