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Complete Streets Grows State Transportation Policy

November 13, 2012
Bikers ride in the bike lane; a car passes in the opposite direction.

Complete Streets is a growing national initiative to improve the design and operation of roadways, particularly those in urban and suburban settings, to accommodate and encourage safe access for all users – motorists, transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians. 

For those of us who work at the Georgia Department of Transportation – on the concepts, design, engineering and implementation of improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure – the State Transportation Board’s decision to adopt the Complete Streets design policy represents the formalization of a continuing evolution in our thinking and our work.  The policy is a public declaration grounded not in buzzwords or overnight trends, but in the foundation of the department’s maturing, inclusive philosophy of transportation planning.

We worked with a broad array of local governments, our transportation partner agencies and pedestrian and cycling advocacy groups to develop Complete Streets – now formalized in some 30 pages of definitions, standards and guidelines in our design manual. Complete Streets is more than pages in a manual, however.  It is confirmation of an ever-changing culture; an acknowledgement that our transportation system can be more – should be more – than its least common denominator; a recognition that the straightest route between two points may not be everyone’s desired route.  Complete Streets is a state of mind.

The Georgia DOT is the proud keeper of a 20,000-mile highway system considered among the nation’s best.  But we know it can be more.  More inviting.  More accommodating.  More holistic.  Complete Streets is the department’s commitment to make it more, or perhaps better stated, to continue making it more.

Complete Streets is not an aspiration for the Georgia DOT; it is the way we go about our business every day.  For the foreseeable future, that business likely will remain centered around the highway system.  Ten million Georgians depend on it.  But it can be a more complete system.  And we are a different, wiser department now – we no longer see our mission as highways always; rather highways all ways. 

About the Author

Gerald Ross, Chief Engineer for the Georgia Department of TransporationGerald M. Ross is the Chief Engineer of the Georgia Department of Transportation. He is a native of Atlanta and a graduate of Therrell High School.  He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Tennessee Tech University.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Georgia.