As you may have read in an elegantly written op-ed column in yesterday’s TAB, there’s a Complete Streets meeting tonight (7-9, City Hall basement) to gather community input on some upcoming street repaving projects*:

  • Crafts St
  • Hammond St between Ward and Commonwealth
  • Lowell Ave between Washington and Walnut
  • Braeland Ave

The first three are scheduled for repaving in 2016. Braeland is currently scheduled for repaving in 2017. (Not noted in the elegantly written op-ed: any of the four may be indefinitely postponed as the DPW project schedule changes and firms up.)

The point of the meeting is to give neighbors and other street users an opportunity to comment on how the streets are used: by pedestrians, by bicyclists, and, of course, by motor vehicle drivers. What are the problems? What are the opportunities? How could the street be made better for all users?

As most loyal V14 readers (and those who read the elegantly written op-ed) know, Complete Streets is a increasingly popular design philosophy for how we consider the public right-of-way. Complete Streets aspires to design that considers all users’ needs and promotes all modes.

Hand-in-bicycle-glove with the design philosophy is a process philosophy: truly complete streets are achieved only when community input is part of the design process.

The point of tonight’s meeting is to pilot a meeting* to solicit neighborhood feedback for upcoming projects, specifically those road projects that are often limited to a simple repaving. (Actually, the city has done a great job recently of incorporating sidewalk repair.) These projects are sometimes missed opportunities to do more to improve the streets to make them better for all users, like creating curb extensions, restriping to slow traffic, providing new or better located crosswalks, &c. We don’t want to simply repave the status quo.

City staff will take the input from tonight’s meeting and incorporate it into design for these roads and present the designs in a meeting a few month’s hence. Also not noted in the elegantly written op-ed, these projects are budget constrained. Whatever design changes are made for the upcoming paving season(s) are are likely to be modest … but more ambitious suggestions will be banked for later.

Community input provides insight into what’s needed and desired. Combined with the professional expertise of city staff, this should lead to better streets for all.

* Why just the four streets, when the repaving list is much longer? This is a pilot. If things go well, the city may expand to do this more generally for repaving target streets.

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