Town Meeting adopts ‘Complete Streets’ handily

GavelBy a vote of 157 to 32, Town Meeting last night voted to accept Chapter 90I of state law. The vote begins a process that could eventually qualify the Town for a new grants program to improve Mass. Ave. and other roadways.

The so-called Complete Streets program rewards communities for incorporating the needs of all kinds of road users (not just motorists) in street design.

The next likely step, according to Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, will be for the Selectmen to adopt a comprehensive policy describing how road design in Arlington will reflect a complete-streets approach.

The lopsided vote in favor of this grant program echoes the 135-32 vote in 2011 to accept state and federal funds to rebuild the sidewalks in East Arlington.

Dan Dunn has a quick summing up of last night’s vote and discussion at the end of his unofficial report on the session (see “Article 16”).

More background in my previous report about Complete Streets.

I’ll be surprised if this leads to any big changes. A “complete streets” sensibility already informs our larger road projects to some extent, such as the Mass. Ave. rebuild and (especially) the renovation of the Route 60 intersection in the center of town.

But this will be the Town’s first formal policy and that alone may institutionalize the idea of streets for all, including bt not limited to private motor vehicle.

If so, last night’s vote may lead to a more-consistent consideration of the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders, and other non-private-vehicle classes of street users.

And of course there may be more money for road projects if the grant program takes off.

Update: The Town has posted the roll-call-style votes from May 4. The Complete Streets vote is part of the group of votes beginning on page 12, the last of the night in the right-most column.

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