As a result of a partneship between the League Foundation, Michigan Association of Planning, Michigan CNU, MSHDA and others, the “Transportation Bonanza 2” conference held in Lansing was a tremendous success. The conference brought together nearly 300 local planners, transportation engineers, consultants and other professionals from across the state to discuss the technical aspect of implementing complete streets policies.
The idea of “complete streets” is to construct our streets for all users… autos, walkers, bikers, the handicapped, trucks, emergency vehicles, etc and those in attendance heard from both state and national experts on how to get it done.
The new ITE-CNU practice manual was distributed to all participants. Its title, "Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares, A Context Sensitive Approach" reflects once again the changing thoughts about the physical design of our downtowns, neighborhoods and communities and how transportation planning decisions must be linked with land use, housing, the environment and economic development. The new FHWA/FTA Livability in Transportation Guidebook is another good example of how the federal government is also thinking about the issue. Recall that federal programs such as the "Sustainable Communities Partnership" between HUD, EPA AND USDOT are beginning to use transportation funding as a vehicle for change.
And while we learned about programs in livable transportation programs in states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine and North Carolina, Michigan now has 20 communities with complete streets policies in place...more than any other state in the nation. It is these kinds of efforts, along with education and community engagement that will help to create the kinds of vibrant 21st century places that will drive Michigan's economy forward in the future.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail