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2012 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 the report:

 

 

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Introductory cover letter

Print PDF (619 KB)

 

 

January 25, 2012

 

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 Legislators:


Enclosed is a response to the legislature's directive to the commissioner of transportation
to report on the implementation of complete streets. This report was mandated in Laws of
Minnesota 2010, Chapter 351, Section 72.


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.


As 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, MnDOT 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, MnDOT State Aid Division Director, at 651-366-
4831.


Sincerely,

Thomas K. Sorel
Commissioner

 

 

 

Legislative Report on Complete Streets, January 2012

Print PDF (978 KB)

 

 

Report development cost

As required in Minn. Stat. 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.


MnDOT staff costs totaled approximately $4,500.

 

To request this document in an alternative format, please contact MnDOT’s Affirmative Action Office at 651-366-4718 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). You may also send an e-mail to ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us.

 

 

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. Minnesota Laws 2010, Chapter 351, Section 72, requires that the report:

 

Collaboration results

Recent collaborative efforts for complete streets advocacy and implementation in Minnesota are considerable and encouraging, with 24 Minnesota local government entities having adopted complete streets resolutions, policies or implementation approaches as of November 2011. Barbara McCann, National Complete Streets Coalition executive director, attested to this in her keynote address at a national Peer Exchange on Adapting Organizations to Deliver Complete Streets (sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16, 2011). In her remarks to an audience that included representatives from FHWA, AASHTO and more than 20 other state, regional and local transportation authorities, McCann noted:


“MnDOT’s collaborative approach, and efforts with other partners, has been a great model, and they laid a good early foundation by doing a feasibility study for adoption of complete streets in Minnesota.”


MnDOT also was invited to make a presentation at the national peer exchange to share its approach towards developing and implementing a complete streets program and to help to kick-off discussions in that topic area. Peer exchange sponsors were impressed by MnDOT’s collaborative efforts, aggressiveness and evolving success in identifying and pursuing complete streets implementation research projects and funding, as well as innovations in exploring and demonstrating new best practices for multi-jurisdictional collaboration in planning and project development and application of performance-based flexibility in design. Maryland State Highway Administration participants said that, with minor modifications, MSHA could adopt MnDOT’s online Complete Streets Implementation Work Plan for its own use. They added that MSHA would share its experiences, perspectives and lessons learned during complete streets implementation with MnDOT.

 

A recent National Complete Streets Coalition research effort and publication – “Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010: A Story of Growing Strength” – evaluated and scored complete streets policy approaches across jurisdictions (states, state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, counties and cities). The evaluation and scoring analyzed complete streets approaches based upon how well they addressed the following 10 elements of an ideal policy model:

 

A number of Minnesota jurisdictions were evaluated and scored very highly in this nationwide analysis: the Minnesota Complete Streets state law was rated as the #1 state law; the Hennepin County Complete Streets policy was rated as the #1 county policy; the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council Complete Streets policy was rated the #3 metropolitan planning organization policy; and the Big Lake and Rochester complete streets resolutions and policies were rated the #1 and #3 city policies, respectively.


To date, the complete streets collaboration, and MnDOT’s leadership in that effort, has focused on:

 

The 2010 Omnibus Transportation Policy Bill (Chapter 351 - SF 2540) states:


Sec.52. [174.75] COMPLETE STREETS

 

Subdivision1. Definition. “Complete streets” is the planning, scoping, design, implementation, operation, and maintenance of roads in order to reasonably address the safety and accessibility needs of users of all ages and abilities. Complete streets considers the needs of motorists, pedestrians, transit users, and vehicles, bicyclists and commercial and emergency vehicles moving along and across roads, intersections, and crossings in a manner that is sensitive to the local context and recognizes that the needs vary in urban, suburban, and rural settings.


Subdivision 2. Implementation. The commissioner shall implement a complete streets policy after consultation with stakeholders, state and regional agencies, local governments, and road authorities. The commissioner, after such consultation, shall address relevant protocols, guidance, standards, requirements, and training, and shall integrate related principles of context-sensitive solutions.

 

MnDOT invited more than 30 individuals, representing more than 20 organizations, to serve as a Complete Streets External Advisory Group. Their participation has been insightful and valuable. The targeted organizations included: ADA of MN, Association of Minnesota Counties, Counties Association of Townships, Builder’s Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Federal Highway Administration, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota House of Representatives, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, League of Minnesota Cities, Metro Council MPO, Metro Transit, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Minnesota Public Transit Association, West Central Initiative RDC, Minnesota Transportation Alliance, Hennepin County and the city of Rochester. Engagement and interaction is ongoing with good participation by representatives from the majority (but not all) of the external organizations that MnDOT targeted.


MnDOT has facilitated five Complete Streets External Advisory Group meetings thus far (July 2010, February 2011, May 2011, September 2011 and November 2011). The next external advisory group meeting is scheduled for February 2012.


Presentations and discussions with the external advisors have focused on a number of topics, including:

 

The more significant results from the collaboration to date include:

 

 

Modifications to facilitate CS implementation

MnDOT’s emphasis, advocacy and training focused on the aligned initiatives of CSS, multimodal integration, flexibility in design, sustainability and complete streets have served to increase internal and external awareness, knowledge and collaborative complete streets implementation opportunities. The heightened activity also has served to identify challenges and barriers to complete streets implementation that must be addressed.


The following modifications made to or recommended for protocols, guidance, standards or other requirements facilitate increased and more successful complete streets implementation:

 

 

Development of CS performance measures

The November 2011 meeting with the complete streets external advisory group was the first concerted effort to facilitate discussion about potential and recommended MnDOT performance measures for complete streets. It was just the beginning of discussions that will resume at the February 2012 external advisory group meeting, which will include discussions about a recommended complete streets vision statement and policy dimensions. The advisors were given a homework assignment and reference material (Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010 by the National Complete Streets Coalition) in preparation for the November 2011 advisory group meeting and two-and-a-half hours of facilitated discussion focused on visioning, policy dimensions and performance measures. The Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010 publication provided examples of complete streets performance measures, used by some organizations, but they seemed to be much more general than strategic. An excerpt from a University of California Transportation Center final research report - Performance Measures for Complete Green Streets: A Proposal for Urban Arterials in California – also was provided at the meeting. Their recommended approach was clearly more tailored to the strategic goals of the California Department of Transportation. Similar to CALTRANS, MnDOT has five strategic directions (Safety, Mobility, Innovation, Leadership and Transparency). A more strategic approach to complete streets performance measures, tied to the strategic directions, would seem to answer a logical question: What might MnDOT choose to measure, specific to complete streets, and why?

 

 

Work planned in relationship to CS policy

The ongoing complete streets vision statement, policy dimensions and performance measures discussion and consensus-building will be a focus for the February 2012 external advisory group meeting.


MnDOT’s updated 14-page Complete Streets Implementation Work Plan identifies other work planned related to complete streets policy, including what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it should be done. The Work Plan can be found at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/planning/completestreets.


There are eight broad task categories in the evolving Complete Streets Implementation Work Plan:

 

The eight broad task categories include more than 40 primary tasks and more than 110 sub-tasks that are too numerous and fluid to summarize for this report. Current updating to the work plan includes:

 

 

Statutory recommendations for CS implementation

The external advisory group identified three potential statutory barriers in 2010 that may warrant future consideration with legislative proposals, but there was no consensus in pursuing them at that time. The three potential considerations for future legislative action identified in the January 2011 Legislative Report on Complete Streets were:

 

Continuing work with the external advisory group is likely to identify additional barriers, such as the request for MnDOT to help expedite completion of a comprehensive identification, analysis and summarization of federal and Minnesota state surface transportation statutes, rules and guidance that may pertain to modes, users and implementation practices related to complete streets. MnDOT has indicated willingness to fund such an effort and has begun drafting a request for proposals in consultation with MnDOT’s Chief Counsel.


The MnDOT Complete Streets External Advisory Group was provided opportunity to review, comment and recommend modifications to this document and modifications were made, as appropriate, to address their comments and recommendations as submitted by Dec. 21, 2011.