In 2012 Saratoga Springs adopted a measure to join the Complete Streets movement. Utilized in cities across the country, the concept promotes alternative forms of transportation and walkable communities.
When Mayor Joanne Yepsen stepped into City Hall in 2014, she was determined to get the city’s Complete Streets committee into action.
“People want this. The city, residents are really crying out for bike lanes, bike safety, walkability. And that’s exactly what we’re going to give them,” said Yepsen.
To develop a Complete Streets plan, the city, working with a grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee, completed a so-called “linkage study.” Taking a look at the city’s existing transportation infrastructure, public comments, and local government, the study was used to develop a set of maps on display at Monday night’s meeting.
The maps detail bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and proposed transit routes. But it’s also smaller projects like making sidewalks compatible with the Americans for Disabilities Act, or adding shelters at bus stops.
Jeff Olson of Alta Planning + Design worked as a consultant with the city in developing the draft Complete Streets plan.
“Complete Streets are projects that make it easier for all the people who need use our streets: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, trucks, cars, everything that has to move. So you’ll see tonight there are projects mapped out for pedestrian projects, bike projects, trail projects, transit projects, and access to freight and other vehicles as well,” said Olson.
In the Capital Region, Troy, Bethlehem, and Albany have adopted Complete Streets resolutions. Olson, who hails from Saratoga Springs, is excited to bring the movement home.
“Complete Streets has been a great movement all over the country. We’re lucky enough to work on projects throughout the U.S. and this is my home, so what I’m hoping to see is my own hometown take a big step forward and make it a much better place. It’s already a great place and we can make it better,” said Olson.
In presenting the draft plan, Olson stressed that it would require not only resources and staff, but also political will.
The Complete Streets program ties into other large planning projects in Saratoga Springs, including the recently revised Comprehensive Plan and Greenbelt Trail project.
Before the draft plan is brought to the City Council for consideration, the public is invited to review it online.
Saratoga Springs City Principal Planner Kate Maynard says comments are welcome.
“They may be infrastructure related, they may be policy related. So, keep in mind, there’s enforcement, there’s education and encouragement efforts that are also key to Complete Streets, and then give a chance for the community to provide feedback tonight and also into the future,” said Maynard.
To view the draft plan, visit: http://www.saratogaspringscompletestreets.com/