Caltrans officially embraces Complete Streets in all projects

By Melanie Curry, StreetsBlog Cal, December 22, 2021

“Caltrans has officially issued its new Complete Streets policy … It comes from the top this time, signed by the Caltrans Director, whereas the previous one was issued by Deputy Director Kome Ajise. It is also accompanied by a list of ‘high-priority implementation actions’ which include developing detailed design guidance and ‘championing’ design flexibility to teach its engineers ‘state-of-the-art’ street safety design principles.

“While in the past several years Caltrans has been moving away from its old definition as a highway-focused department, and has set bike, walking, and transit goals, this is the first clear statement that acknowledges that Caltrans is committing to accommodating all road users in every project it works on.

“The policy applies to the entire state transportation network, which ‘refers to the State Highway System (SHS) and all other multimodal facilities, including parallel and intersecting paths, frontage roads, and other facilities not directly on the SHS mainline.’

“It also applies to all Caltrans employees, and includes a breakdown of specific responsibilities for all employee functions, at both headquarters and in the twelve districts.

“[T]here are a lot of other projects in earlier stages that should benefit from this policy. [For example, in Marin County] many bike and pedestrian facilities have to cross Highway 101, the main north-south route in the county. San Rafael is considering improving a highway crossing at Manuel T. Freitas Parkway, near Northgate Mall. [Warren Wells, Policy and Planning Director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition] said, ‘it doesn’t quite meet the standard set by this policy directive. It will be interesting to see how we can use that policy on a project that’s in the early stages.’ ”

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