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Streets are for more than just drivers under new Portland policy

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Streets are for more than just drivers under new Portland policy

PORTLAND — A new policy may make city streets more pedestrian-friendly – and also friendlier to cyclists, transit riders, emergency responders, truck drivers, car drivers and others.

The Complete Streets policy, adopted at a Dec.17 City Council meeting, calls for balancing the needs of all those who use the streets in order to reduce travel time and costs, increase physical activity and enhance environmental sustainability.

The policy will help determine the way streets are constructed, renovated and maintained. Planners will use the multimodal approach in upcoming projects on Franklin Street, Forest Avenue and Outer Congress Street, according to a City Hall press release.

Last week's unanimous council decision comes after more than  a year of effort. In February 2011, the council called for the development of the Complete Streets policy, making Portland the first community in Maine to do so.

Since then, city staff and community groups have been working to develop the policy, with the help of grants from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the country, more than 400 state, regional and local jurisdictions have adopted Complete Streets policies over the past 10 years, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition.

“By adopting a Complete Streets policy, the city has taken an important step to assure that each dollar spent on roadways and walkways is done so that all users will benefit now and into the future," Mayor Michael Brennan said in the release.

"... Having a clear well-developed Complete Streets policy will help us continue to build a city that meets our sustainability and public health goals.”

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.