In the 1950s through the 1980s, the primary transportation focus was on getting people from place to place via automobile. Little attention was given to those walking or riding their bikes. Much of Pinellas County was developed during that time, and our roads and communities reflected that focus.
Over the years, local governments countywide have taken steps to address this issue. They have added sidewalks along major roads and included bike lanes during resurfacing projects. However, a lot of work remains to make sure the transportation system is working for everyone. Forward Pinellas believes that every public right-of-way should be planned, designed, constructed, reconstructed, operated and maintained for people of all ages and abilities. That is the premise for the new Complete Streets program that Forward Pinellas has developed. In addition, Complete Streets helps Forward Pinellas accomplish its task of integrating land use and transportation planning countywide, a task that was assigned by the state legislature when it unified the county’s metropolitan planning organization and planning council.
On Monday, Forward Pinellas sent out a call for projects, asking the local governments to submit applications to request funding for their complete streets projects. Those that submit their applications by the December 16 deadline will be asked to present an overview of their proposed project to Forward Pinellas’s Technical Coordinating Committee (made up of technical staff from government agencies throughout Pinellas County) in January. Based on the applications and these presentations, the TCC will recommend our board approve funding for both a concept planning/design project and a construction project.
Complete streets are for everyone. They provide for the safety and mobility of all users, including motorists, transit vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, freight carriers and emergency responders. Complete streets projects throughout the country have also proven to be a catalyst for transformative change along a corridor, encouraging redevelopment and drawing private investment. The Complete Streets program will provide funding for the development of concept or design plans, or the construction of complete streets projects.
Not all complete streets look the same – some might have dedicated bike lanes, while others have bicycle right-of-way arrows. Some complete streets might be particularly pedestrian-focused, while others might focus especially on freight. A section of Fletcher Avenue in Tampa is a complete street, with raised medians that channel turning vehicles to specific access points, sidewalk improvements including installation of ADA ramps at intersections, signals for mid-block pedestrian crossings, and bicycle lanes. Another complete street project in East Tampa, 40th Street, has center turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, and roundabouts at key intersections. The complete street area of Edgewater Drive in Orlando has a center turn lane, bike lanes, and on-street parking.
As our agency focuses on its mission of aligning our resources with a shared vision for the county, using our transportation funding to help enhance our communities, complete streets are essential in making sure all our residents can get safely from place to place, regardless of how they choose to get there.