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01/13/2017

'Complete Streets' policy supports all users of public roads

A new policy that promotes accessibility for all users of public roads contains ideas and suggestions that are already in use.

The Town Council on Jan. 9, 2017 adopted a "Complete Streets" policy to guide development of safe, efficient streets for users of all abilities, whether they are on foot, on bicycles, in motorized vehicles or in public transportation.

"What this is really doing is putting in writing what is already been a common practice," said Town Planner Maureen O'Meara. "And that is, to think about not just cars on the road but pedestrians and bicycles and folks that have physical handicaps, and to always take that filter for all your road projects."

For example, the policy suggests pavement markings and signs, lighting, and curb ramps as just a few measures that should be considered when designing road construction or improvements. Some projects could be exempt from these amenities if they are too costly, impractical, or for a host of other reasons outlined in the policy's "exceptions" paragraph.

"So there's nothing here that commits you to doing one set design for all streets," O'Meara said. "What it commits you to do is to think about all the users whenever you're doing a road project."

Adopting the policy will also work in the town's favor when it approaches the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System next month for a sidewalk grant for the town center. Officials are looking to combine the grant with similar projects in Portland and South Portland for the 2020-21 construction year. [see grant application memo]