U.S. lawmakers reintroduce Complete Streets Act in Congress

Under the Act, states would be required to set aside 5% of federal highway funding to create a Complete Streets program

March 01, 2021 / 2 minute read
complete streets; multiple road users

Several U.S. lawmakers recently introduced the Complete Streets Act in Congress, legislation that would promote safer and more accessible transportation routes across the U.S.

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), and Congressmen Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), were some of the lawmakers reintroducing the legislation. 

According to Rep. Cohen's office, a “complete street” is one designed to provide safe and accessible transportation options for multiple modes of travel, as well as for people of all ages and abilities. Complete streets can accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users, not just cars and freight vehicles. A complete street is also safe for children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities. The Complete Streets Act would require states set aside a portion of their federal highway funding to create a grant program that will fund complete streets projects to make transit routes safer and more accessible. 

Through this program, eligible local and regional entities can apply for technical assistance and capital funding to build safe streets projects, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops. 

“The United States is facing a national safety crisis,” Congressman Cohen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement. “In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles, especially in Memphis. We need streets that can accommodate all means of transportation, from foot traffic and strollers to bicycles, cars, light trucks and 18-wheelers. The grants that will be made under the Complete Streets Act will transform communities and make it safer for everyone to travel.” 

Under the Complete Streets Act: 

  • States would be required to set aside 5% of their federal highway funding to create a “Complete Streets” program.  
  • To access the funds, eligible entities would need to adopt a Complete Streets policy, participate in technical assistance, and create a prioritized plan for Complete Streets projects in their jurisdictions.
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) would be responsible for certifying that Complete Streets policies meet minimum requirements set out by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation
  • The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, States, and MPOs would be required to adopt design standards for federal surface transportation projects that provide for the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of the surface transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users, in all phases of project planning, development, and operation. 

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SOURCE: Office of Congressman Steve Cohen

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