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Indiana HB 1354 – Complete Streets

Rendering looking south from Meridian & Westfield

Rendering looking south from Meridian & Westfield

Indiana House Bill 1354 was read on January 18th 2011. The bill as proposed would require INDOT to include “complete streets” guidelines into INDOT’s approved design manual. A summary of the bill, along with it’s travel through the legislature, can be read here.

When I first read about this, I pumped my fist in the air. Finally, someone has gotten to the lawmakers and a plan is in place to start moving forward in a progressive fashion. However, upon further examination, it appears that there may be a gaping loophole in the middle of the bill. There are stipulations that allow INDOT to wave complete streets policies in the event of:

  • (1) pedestrian or other nonmotorized usage is prohibited by law on the highway, street, or other roadway that is the subject of the project or part of a project;
  • (2) the cost of incorporating complete streets guidelines for the project or part of the project is excessively disproportionate to the benefits, as determined by the department; or
  • (3) there is a demonstrated lack of present or future need for complete streets for the project or part of the project.

It is the 2nd bulletpoint which worries me the most. There is no criteria for justifying whether or not a project is excessively disproportionate to the benefits. If we leave it up to INDOT, history has shown that ALL complete streets guidelines are disproportionate to the benefit, or else they would already be included. Now, there are times when it may be hugely prohibitive to include items that may make pedestrian life simpler. If that is the case, a robust justification should be given by INDOT. However, the bill should carry with it some guideline for justifying this instead of leaving it up to the existing highway department. If that is the case, then it is the opinion of this writer, that we will be no closer to complete streets in Indiana, then we are today.

If you feel the same, I urge you to contact your state representative today and voice your concerns. It probably wouldn’t hurt to contact Nancy Dembowski (D) 17th District.

For more info on what exactly complete streets are, you can check out prior posts on this site here, here and also the official complete streets website here.

9 Responses to “ “Indiana HB 1354 – Complete Streets”

  1. IndyUrBen says:

    Good article, Curt. While its not what we want, I just hope it makes it through at all. This has been talked about for fifteen years or so – I’ll take what I can get if it can actually make it through the process.

  2. Tom Healy says:

    Some Hoosier aren’t waiting for INDOT and/or the General Assembly and have adopted their own Complete Streets policies: B’ton, Columbus & Madison County.
    http://www.completestreets.org/complete-streets-fundamentals/complete-streets-atlas/

  3. Chris Barnett says:

    Technically, Indy’s MPO area has a complete streets policy and guidelines in effect. See:

    http://www.storrowkinsella.com/projectwebs/0444-IndyDesGuide/index.htm

    • That looks like they are guidelines for street design and not a formal policy. I think the issue discussed here is whether or not complete streets should be mandatory in the state, not what the typologies would look like.

      • Curt Ailes says:

        I think you are correct. My normal contact at the MPO is working on a Complete Streets policy that she is hoping to get a vote on by the IRTC this year. I do not know much more, however that says to me that there isn’t an official policy/standard in place to guide projects locally. Yet. I sincerely hope that what they DO come up with is a STANDARD and not a GUIDELINE. Guideline don’t buy us much…

  4. Eric says:

    Good article. Like the light jab to INDOT.

    Not a great image to depict complete streets. No bike lanes or transit shown. That’s more like a pedestrian island.

  5. Curt Ailes says:

    That image came from a Complete Streets project about to happen in Indianapolis. It is at the intersection of Meridian and Westfield. The project will create a median between the N/S traffic lanes on Meridian and create a way to reach the park situated at the SW corner of the intersection. There are already popular pedestrian/bike trails in the area and while I agree that it would be nice to see bike lanes in this area I imagine the political issues in doing this would scuttle this project. Still, the project will be an improvement for the area.

  6. Joe says:

    When hearing Meg Storrow speak, I believe she mentioned the plan for bike lanes on Illinois and another street as a reason why they were not included here.

  7. I’m a little late here but a couple comments are in order (and a celebration for a Complete Streets win):
    The “pedestrian island” in the Westfield/Meridian intersection illustration is a cropped view of an overall intersection strategy that will add well-marked pedestrian crossings to all legs (only the canal towpath trail leg has one now and its pretty scary), shorten the crossing distance for the Canal Towpath Trail while adding spacious pedestrian landings and countdown ped signals, eliminate several vehicular turning movements to provide pedestrian refuge medians on Meridian Street, fill in the missing sidewalks to allow neighborhoods safe access to the trail, move existing sidewalks in from the curb edge with a tree buffer, and lower the posted speed limit on this section of Meridian from 40 to 35 mph! This will happen…contracts have been let and notice to proceed has been issued. And yes, bike lanes on most of Meridian are impossible under its current 4-lane configuration (much as we would like to road diet it to three, that would shift huge traffic loads to Illinois and Penn….those streets are bike friendly now however.

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