Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PICH, ARC and City of Atlanta Produce Video on Benefits of Complete Streets as TSPLOST Investment Planning Starts

As the movement to invest in infrastructure improvements across Fulton County gains fresh momentum following passage of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation Purposes (TSPLOST) ballot measure last month, the Fulton County Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) Program, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the City of Atlanta released a new video today highlighting the health, safety and lifestyle benefits of Complete Streets. The video will be used by public officials and the PICH Program in discussing transportation infrastructure projects designed to make roadways less congested and more pedestrian-friendly.

In contrast to ordinary streets, Complete Streets allow users of all ages and abilities to share the road through such features as shaded sidewalks; bike lanes or wide-paved shoulders; designated bus lanes; comfortable and accessible public transportation stops; frequent and safe crossing opportunities; pedestrian signals; median islands; curb extensions; narrower driving lanes; and roundabouts. The modifications make the streets more user-friendly for pedestrians, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers, the disabled, car drivers and transit riders as they live, work and play. The Fulton County PICH Program supports the development of Complete Streets throughout the County as a way to facilitate increased physical activity. Over the past year, PICH has sponsored a series of workshops and outdoor walking lectures to educate residents in East Point, Atlanta and Sandy Springs about the benefits of Complete Streets and how to work with policymakers to bring them to their neighborhoods.

The TSPLOST measure that was approved by County voters during the November 8, 2016 general election is projected to generate approximately $570 million to fund transportation infrastructure projects throughout North and South Fulton cities outside of Atlanta, based on estimates by the Council for Quality Growth. Many of the plans will incorporate Complete Streets design elements. “By promoting Complete Streets, Fulton County is investing in a viable, sustainable opportunity to increase physical activity, increase safety and expand commuting alternatives for all citizens,” says Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner.

Separately, the Atlanta TSPLOST is expected to generate about $260 million. Affirming the City’s commitment to “making sidewalks and streets safe for people of all ages and abilities whether they are walking, biking or riding,” Mayor Kasim Reed has announced plans to invest $75 million of the anticipated proceeds in new Complete Streets projects. This money will supplement the $30 million from the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Program the City is already spending on more than 30 miles of Complete Streets, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Atlanta BeltLine and community groups.
In the video, titled “Complete Streets: Creating Safe, Accessible, Healthy Communities,” public officials, transportation experts and Fulton County residents talk about the numerous advantages of Complete Streets. “We’re finding that [by] doing the things that build healthier communities—things like building sidewalks, bike lanes, trails and pathways—we not only get the public health benefits of people living longer, healthier lives, and having less chronic disease, but we also see an economic benefit, because these are desirable places to live,” says Mark Fenton, a Massachusetts-based public health, planning and transportation consultant.

Atlanta’s Complete Streets investments include upgrading curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, crossing signals, and ramps for the disabled—all to decrease congestion, improve mobility and provide transportation options. On Ponce de Leon Avenue, one of the most visible examples of a reconfigured Complete Street, there have been 25% fewer crashes and 5,000 more vehicles accommodated since its transformation. "The bottom line is about lifestyles and how we’re going to live here," Atlanta Commissioner of Planning and Community Development Tim Keane says. "Making the streets for everybody isn’t [just] something that would be nice to do. It’s the right thing to do."