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2011 Complete Streets legislative report

This report is in response to the legislative directive to the commissioner of transportation to report on MnDOT’s Complete Streets activities. Minnesota Laws 2010, Chapter 351, Section 72 requires that a report is completed by January 15, 2011 addressing these topics:

 

 

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Introductory cover letter

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January 20, 2011

 

The Honorable Mike Beard, Chair
House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee
417 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155


The Honorable Frank Hornstein, Ranking Minority Member
House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee
213 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155


The Honorable Joe Gimse, Chair
Senate Transportation Committee
303 State Capitol
St. Paul, MN 55155


The Honorable Scott Dibble, Ranking Minority Member
Senate Transportation Committee
115 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

 

Dear Senators and Representatives:


Enclosed is a report in response to the state legislature's directive to the commissioner of
transportation to study the costs, benefits and feasibility of implementing a complete
streets policy. This report was mandated in Laws 2008, Chapter 350, Article 1, Section 94.
The complete streets approach emphasizes safety and mobility. It ensures that road
projects are designed to meet local needs, be sensitive to context and emphasize that all
modes of transportation and all users are considered in the project development process.
The approach does not mean "all modes on all roads." Rather, the goal is to develop a
balanced transportation system that integrates all modes and include transportation users
of all types, ages and abilities.


Being one of the first states to adopt a policy requiring context sensitive design and
solutions, Minnesota was already positioned to support a complete streets approach to
transportation investment. In addition, Mn/DOT staff have been actively working on
integrating ADA accommodations and bicycle/pedestrian principles within the agency.
Several local agencies in Minnesota have already adopted their own resolutions for
complete streets, indicating that complete streets are achievable at a local level.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this
report, or you can contact Julie Skallman, Mn/DOT State Aid Division Director, at 651-366-
4831.


Sincerely,

Thomas K. Sorel
Commissioner

 

 

 

Legislative Report on Complete Streets, January 2011

Print PDF (831 KB) or Print Word doc (32 KB)

 

 

Report development cost

As required in Minnesota Statute 3.197, this document must contain the cost of
preparing the report at the beginning of the report, including any costs incurred by
another agency or another level of government.


Mn/DOT staff costs totaled $5,000.

 

Legislative request

This report is in response to the legislative directive to the commissioner of
transportation to report on the department’s Complete Streets activities. Laws 2010,
Chapter 351, Section 72. Chapter 351, require that a report is completed by Jan. 15,
2011 addressing three items:

 

State Aid variance process

The State Aid variance process is provided for in Minnesota Statute 162.155 and allows
local agencies to be granted waivers to Minnesota Rules 8820 if a variance committee
recommends the waiver and the commissioner of transportation grants it. The Complete
Streets legislation now requires each variance committee to consider the Policy on
Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, from the American Association of State
Highway and Transportation Officials and the Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing
Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities, from the Institute of
Transportation Engineers in evaluating any variance that is related to Complete Streets.

 

Actions taken to expedite the process

The checklist to complete a State Aid variance committee meeting has been recently
modified. The detailed internal checklist helps State Aid staff to be knowledgeable of the
steps required to process variance requests and to ensure that there is no loss of
productivity as staff changes occur. The procedure described in the checklist helps staff
expedite the process and ensures they are fully informed of their responsibilities.

 

Actions taken to make the process more transparent

The variance process link has been moved to the front page of the State Aid for Local
Transportation web page under Quick Links.


http://www.dot.state.mn.us/stateaid/index.html


The web page contains meeting dates for the current year, a map showing where the
Variance Committee meetings are held, a link to the State Aid Rules, a State Aid
Standards Development Slide Show and a contact person for further information and
assistance. It also includes a Design Element Variance Checklist for agencies
requesting a variance to be sure their request includes all the information a variance
committee uses in considering recommendations. The revised checklist includes a
reference to the AASHTO green book and ITE book so that a requesting agency can
use these guides to support their submittal.

 

Review of past variance requests

From January 1 - October 1, 2010 there were 10 variance requests; four were related to
Complete Streets designs. Three of the four were approved. The variance requested by
the city of Monticello to narrow a Municipal State Aid Street from 38 feet to 36 feet with
parking on both sides was denied based on the following reasons as recommended by
the variance committee:

 

Plan implementation

The State Aid Division engineer has been assigned as the Complete Streets
department champion and a project manager has been identified.
A web page for Complete Streets has been created. A detailed work plan has been
developed, is posted on the web and is updated on a regular basis. So far the following
assignments have been completed:

 

Staff members from different functional groups have been identified to discuss
processes to implement a Complete Streets policy. The following functional groups
have been selected:

 

An external advisory group has been established and its first meeting was held July 29,
2010. The group discussed work prioritization and ongoing local projects that support or
interact with Mn/DOT Complete Streets initiatives. The group will meet again in
February 2011. The group included:

 

District 4 Planning and Design staff, Central Office Geometrics and Landscape
Architecture staff and the Director of CSS recently met to discuss Complete Streets
concept and design options for downtown Alexandria. The project is planned for 2013
and exemplifies the benefits of working together early in the planning and design
process. This is an indication that the principles are being adopted by staff in the
agency and will become a way of doing business.

 

Comments on the Complete Streets activities within Mn/DOT are included in the 2012–
2013 Budget Narrative submitted to Minnesota Management and Budget and will be
noted in future budget documents as required.
The Complete Street plan implementation is a long term process expected to take
several years.

 

Statutory barriers

The external advisory group has identified three potential legislative barriers that may
be brought forward in the future, but not for the 2011 Legislative Session. There was no
consensus that any of these barriers should be pursued immediately.
Items for future consideration of legislative action:

 

As work with the external advisory group continues, additional barriers may be
identified. These will be brought forward in the January 2012 report.
The external advisory group reviewed and commented on this document. Their
comments were incorporated into the final report.