Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order yesterday afternoon requiring the city to develop a new policy that will affect the design, construction and future maintenance of the city streets. The mayor said “investing in smart, multimodal transportation infrastructure is among the greatest needs facing Pittsburgh and will not only support economic growth, but the health and safety of everyone in the city.” This story is nothing new in our country, in fact hundreds of communities dotting the lower 48 have been executing new Complete Streets strategies to improve the overall economic and physical health of their cities. In fact, in 2012 Indianapolis was named the best new Complete Streets Policy in the entire country.
“Indianapolis is putting critical investments into our urban environment to make it more inviting to new businesses and residents,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in a statement. “Growing our workforce and attracting new talent requires Indianapolis to do everything possible to make our city a place where people easily can walk to amenities in their neighborhoods, bike and drive to and from work, and explore our many great attractions—a place where people want to call home.”
The question to many is, “what is a complete street and why the sudden change?” A new study by Substainable Cities Collective has provided powerful information on why Commplete Street Initiatives should be taken on by all cities.
1. Streets were usually safer: Automobile collisions declined in nearly 70% of projects
2. Safety provides a financial value: When cities have provided Complete Streets improvements, collectively it averted 18+ million in total collision costs in just one year. (within the sample only)
3. Streets encourage multimodal travel: Cities are experiencing a rise in biking, walking and transit rather than traditional car/truck travel.
4. Projects are cheap: The average cost of a project was just over $2 Million dollars which is far less than the average 10 million in STIP’s
5. Economic Development: Not only is Hoch Associates an architectural firm but a team of individuals that look for economic opportunity for our communities. The findings from the study suggest that projects were supportive of increased development, new businesses and relocation, higher property values and new private investment dollars resulting in stronger economic impacts for the communities in which they are completed
It’s sometimes hard to believe a study when you don’t see physical results but the economic impact that Complete Streets is having in cities like Dubuque Iowa are proof of the power. The study says the city reconsidered four main avenues in its historic Millwork District, replacing sidewalks, easing pedestrian walkways, adding new lights and painting bicyclist sharing lanes and a multi-use trail, the bicycle traffic has increased by 273 percent. Since the completion of the project, the Millwork neighborhood has experienced over $34 million in new private investment, with another $150 million that could be coming soon. City leaders all agree that the project has been a big success.
With the nation watching our story, and projects like Ash Brokerage/Skyline, what areas of Fort Wayne should we consider most in need for a Complete Streets push. We agree, the positives outweigh any of the negatives in the Complete Streets dialogue, yet our city hasn’t taken a serious look at this yet. We hope that soon in addition to the intricate public/private partnership with Skyline and the millennial targeted Randall and Superior lofts, our city will make news with asking what goes into a street. Providing a much needed multi-modal form of transportation in downtown and outlying Fort Wayne will only help continue putting us in front of the nation as a city to watch.