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NOTE: The following letter was sent to all MDOT employees on August 5, 2010 by Director Steudle. A PDF version of this letter can be downloaded here.

August 5, 2010

What Complete Streets means for MDOT and transportation in Michigan

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful, it is threatening because it means that things may get worse.
To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.”
– King Whitney Jr., 1967

These words about change are as true today as they were in 1967. On Aug. 1, Gov. Granholm signed into law Complete Streets legislation to advance cooperation and coordination among transportation and local governmental agencies: Public Act 135, which amends Public Act 51 of 1951 governing the expenditure of state transportation funding; and Public Act 134, which amends the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. While it might be tempting to attribute the passage of these bills to pressure from one group or another, it is worth noting that both bills passed the Michigan House and Senate by wide margins: 85-21 and 31-0, respectively.

Here is a summary of the changes to Act 51 under PA 135:

Revisions to Act 51, Section 10(k)

  • Requires counties, cities, villages, and MDOT to consult with one another when planning a nonmotorized project affecting a transportation facility that belongs to the other.
  • Requires Section 10(k) improvements meet accepted practices or established best practices.
  • Requires Act 51 agencies to notify one another when their five-year nonmotorized programs are finalized.

New Act 51 Section 10(p)

  • Requires the State Transportation Commission (STC), within two years, to adopt a Complete Streets policy for MDOT, and to develop model Complete Streets policies for use by others.
  • Requires state and local agencies to consult and agree on how to address Complete Streets before submitting the Five-Year Program to the STC (exempts anything in an approved multi-year capital plan approved before July 1).
  • Allows MDOT to provide technical assistance and coordination to local agencies in the development and implementation of their policies.
  • Requires MDOT to share expertise in nonmotorized and multi-modal planning in the development of projects within municipal boundaries (“municipal” refers to townships, counties, cities or villages – so just about anywhere).
  • Allows agencies to enter into agreements with one another to provide maintenance for projects constructed to implement a Complete Streets policy.
  • Creates a Complete Streets Advisory Council within MDOT, appointed by the governor, to advise the STC and local agencies in the implementation of Complete Streets.

Amendments to the Michigan Planning Enabling Act

  • Modifies the definition of “streets” to specifically include all legal users.
  • Expands the elements that may be included in a master plan to encompass all transportation systems that move people and goods.
  • Specifies that transportation improvements identified in a plan are appropriate to the context of the community and considers all legal users of the public right of way.
  • The means for implementing transportation elements of the master plan in cooperation with applicable county road commission or MDOT.

The new laws will influence how we work with virtually every township, county, city, and village in the state. In the coming weeks, I will convene an interdisciplinary work group within MDOT to examine how the new law will affect our processes and resources. If you are asked to participate, I ask that you embrace it as an opportunity to improve how we work with our partners to deliver transportation services in Michigan.

The transportation world is changing. We can face this change fearfully, or with confidence. In my five years as director, we have faced many challenges, adapted to change, and are a better organization for doing so. I am confident we can rise to the challenge of implementing the new Complete Streets law – in letter and spirit – and emerge a stronger organization, and ultimately, a better state.

Both Complete Streets bills (HB 6151 and HB 6152) were presented to Governor Granholm last Thursday afternoon. Late Sunday, she signed them both into law.

They were sent to the Secretary of State’s office on Monday, August 2 as Public Acts 134 and 135 of 2010.

Congratulations to everyone who helped make this possible!

Of course the work is just beginning. These bills really just set the stage for implementing Complete Streets throughout Michigan.

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition is encouraging supporters to send the bill sponsors a quick thank you message:

Representative Jon Switalski Representative Pam Byrnes
(517) 373-1772 (517) 373-0828
State Capitol State Capitol
P.O. Box 30014 P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48908 Lansing, MI 48908

* Michigan is the 14th state to adopt Complete Streets legislation, and the 22nd state to adopt any form of a policy such as department directives.

Please join avid bicyclist and Ferndale City Council Member, Melanie Piana when she speaks about what the State & National Complete Streets Coalition is, and how the City of Ferndale is looking to become a leader in building roadways that move people not just automobiles.  Plus Continental Bike Shop will be doing a “bicycle commuting 101” workshop…and afterwards feel free to join us on a mini bicycle commute around Ferndale!

The Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission’s Green Tuesday seminars are aimed at providing Ferndale residents with the information they need to become even better stewards of the environment.  The seminars will be held the second Tuesday of the month at the Kulick Community Center in Ferndale (1201 Livernois St.) from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The seminars are FREE and open to the public (you need not be a Ferndale resident to attend).

WHAT: Ferndale Green Tuesday Seminar:  Ferndale Complete Streets and Bicycle Commuting 101

WHO: Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission, Continental Bike Shop and guest speaker – Ferndale City Council Member Melanie Piana

WHEN: Tuesday, August 10th – 6:30pm-8:00pm + bicycle ride to immediately follow – a light and helmet is required

WHERE: Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois St. – Ferndale, MI

CONTACT: Douglas Christie | 248.709.9301 |
Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission – Chair

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