MAP-21 and Complete Streets

The long awaited Senate draft of the roads portion of the federal transportation authorization bill has been released. The bill makes some nods toward Complete Streets, but does not include a policy.

In its bill, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” or MAP-21, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works also chose not to incorporate proposals in the proposed Safe and Complete Streets Act (S. 1056). While we are disappointed, we look forward to opportunities to improve it now that the bill is being debated in the Senate.

The draft of the proposed bill, released on Friday, reflects a common misconception that Complete Streets are special projects rather than an integrated, mainstream approach to transportation planning and design that results in safer streets and more efficient transportation investments. The draft bill references several specific Complete Streets-type road improvements, but only in a program intended mainly to fund bicycling and walking infrastructure called “Additional Activities”.

While on the surface such inclusion may seem to be a positive step, it implies that multi-modal road projects should be relegated into a small funding category, regrettably one that will be straining under the demand for bicycling and walking improvements. The Senate committee has heard our concerns and is already planning to remove most of these uses from the Additional Activities program.

We are encouraged that projects that create safe streets for all users are made eligible under MAP-21’s new core funding program, Transportation Mobility Program, though not explicitly listed. We will be working to clarify that Congress sees such road projects as a central part of our transportation investments.