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HOUGHTON – Houghton City Council gave pedestrians, cyclists and transit users an early Christmas present last night by passing a Complete Streets Ordinance, effective January 1, 2011. Houghton becomes the sixth Michigan city, and the first in the Upper Peninsula, to enact a Complete Streets ordinance. An additional 16 Michigan cities have passed resolutions supporting the use of Complete Streets design principles, giving Michigan more such policies than any other state.
The Houghton ordinance calls for transportation improvement projects which “…provide appropriate accommodation for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and motorists of all ages and abilities.” It further states that all street plans, including new roads and renovations, shall include such accommodations as sidewalks, curb ramps, bike lanes and signage to “…maximize walkable and bikeable streets wherever feasible.”
The ordinance also specifies that street projects should incorporate elements of Houghton’s bike and pedestrian plans and various state and national design criteria, in order to improve access and safety for all user groups. It also provides for certain exceptions, such as when “…the cost (of the transportation enhancement project) would be excessively disproportionate to the need for probable use.”
Prior to the vote, Houghton Mayor Robert Backon convened a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. Ray Sharp, a community health planner at Western U.P. Health Department, told the council that Complete Streets can improve a city’s livability, economy, health, safety and prospects for future state and federal transportation funding.
Houghton Bike Task Force chairperson Margot Hutchins thanked the council for their efforts to make Houghton more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. The council passed a Bike Friendly City resolution in April, and in September, Houghton was recognized by the League of American Cyclists as a bike-friendly city, one of just 158 nationwide.
The bike task force will now begin work on an Active Transportation Plan, a document which will include recommendations for transportation projects that reflect the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and people with disabilities.
Western U.P. Health Department works with local governments to enact policies that support healthy lifestyles and have the potential to reduce chronic disease. The agency and its local partners have received grants from Michigan Department of Community Health’s Building Healthy Communities program and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities program to work toward community policies and infrastructure that encourage people to be physically active and make healthy food choices.
Scott MacInnes, Houghton City Manager
Ray Sharp, Western U.P. Health Department Manager of Community Planning
In 2010, the Cardiovascular Health, Physical Activity and Nutrition Section at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in partnership with Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan Coalition received a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support the passage of a state level complete streets resolution and future legislation. The funding is also intended to support efforts by local health departments to pass complete streets ordinances in their communities.
Michigan Department of Community Health is also contributing additional funding to the effort. Seven health departments were awarded grants of $12,000 a piece to support local complete streets efforts.
“Passage of complete streets ordinances will help insure that our communities accommodate all forms of transportation and not just automobiles,” said Lisa Grost, Public Health Consultant for MDCH. “Increasing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and improving physical activity levels through active infrastructure is a win-win for Michigan communities.”
For the 2010 grant year, the following local health departments and communities have been awarded the ARRA-Complete Streets grant:
|Local Health Department||Community|
|Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion||City of Detroit|
|Washtenaw County Health Department||City of Saline|
|Ingham County Health Department||City of East Lansing|
|Western U.P County Health Department||City of Houghton|
|Marquette County Health Department||Marquette Township|
|Genesee County Health Department||City of Flint and City of Linden|
|Jackson County Health Department||City of Jackson|