The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) took an encouraging and surprising step, proposing to ease federally-mandated design standards on many roads, making it dramatically easier for cities and communities of all sizes to design and build complete streets that are safer for everyone.
Currently, FHWA has a long list of design criteria that local communities and states must adhere to when building or reconstructing certain roads, unless they choose to go through an arduous process of requesting an exception to do things like line a downtown street with street trees, reduce the width of lanes to add a bike lane, or curve a street slightly to slow traffic and make it safer for people in cars and on foot.
In this new proposed rule, FHWA decided after a thorough review to scrap 11 of 13 current design criteria for certain roads because they decided these criteria have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and has a stronger connection for rural roads, freeways and higher speed urban arterials.
FHWA deserves praise for their leadership on this important issue. The rule is open to public comment through December 7, 2015. Let’s take the opportunity to provide public comment and thank FHWA for their leadership and make sure it is implemented to help make safer streets for all to enjoy.
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John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.