At their most recent meeting on Monday July 17, the Rolla City Council voted to formally adopt a Complete Streets policy, affecting the way the city views street renovation and construction in the future.

At their most recent meeting on Monday July 17, the Rolla City Council voted to formally adopt a Complete Streets policy, affecting the way the city views street renovation and construction in the future.

Rolla City Administrator John Butz said Complete Streets is more of a philosophy than a mandate when it comes to future projects, but the formal adoption of the policy guarantees certain elements will be considered when these projects are started.

“From the time cars were invented, all of our focus has been on how to enhance vehicular transportation,” said Butz. “ Highways went from two lanes to three lanes to five lanes. The notion was how do you move vehicles faster.”

Over the past ten or fifteen years, according to Butz, the idea of Complete Streets, streets dedicated to improve accessibility for non-motorists, has become more prevalent, factoring in pedestrians, public transit and bicycles and being compatible to more than just vehicles.

“It doesn’t mean every road needs to have those elements incorporated into them,” said Butz. “But you should be looking at the area and making sure you’re looking, at the front end of the design, at all the users, not just the vehicular.”

Butz explained the city has been internally using the policy for a number of years, and blended in the elements of Complete Streets in many of their projects. For example, the trail along a portion of Lion’s Club Drive, and the sidewalk leading to the hospital from the western end of tenth street were both designed with consideration of Complete Streets principles.

Butz explained.

By formally adopting the policy, Rolla has the opportunity to join a network of Complete Streets cities and obtain resources from the national Complete Streets movement. The adoption of the policy also creates a standard in the community about what they should expect from street-related projects, according to Butz.

The philosophy of the national Complete Streets movement is that everyone, regardless of personal factors, should be able to have comfortable and safe access to to community destinations regardless of their mode of transit, according to the movement’s website. The movement was launched in 2004 and since then, over 1,110 agencies have adopted the policy.

The resources available to Complete Streets organizations include information on what other cities are doing and learning from similar areas who have had success with the program.

“None of it is binding,” explained Butz, “It’s saying we are going to factor these elements into our design.”

Butz also said the Hwy. 72 extension is one such route that will developed with Complete Streets in mind. The exact shape of the project remains to be seen, but the comfort and accessibility of all residents is in the mind of the developers as this new policy becomes a part of everything they do.