The MA Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has launched a new program to help cities and towns make their local roads more walkable, bikeable, and viable for public transit users. With $12.5 million designated for the first two years, this new “Complete Streets Funding Program” will provide technical assistance and financial incentives for municipalities to adopt and implement complete streets policies. The creation and implementation of the Complete Streets Funding Program has been a top priority of the MPHA-led Act FRESH coalition. Together with other partner organizations we have been advocating for it since 2013.
Below is a primer with links to information and resources to help communities learn about this new funding opportunity and how to prepare to apply for it. Please share this with your community partners!
What is a “complete street”?
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), “A complete street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes –walking, biking, transit and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets improvements may be large scale such as corridor wide improvements or focused on the needs of a single mode.”
How can I learn about the Massachusetts “Complete Streets Funding Program”?
- Read MassDOT’s guidance documents, Appendices, FAQs, and due dates for the Complete Streets Funding Program
- Attend a free “Complete Streets 101: Benefits, Eligibility & Funding” workshop offered by MassDOT/Baystate Roads. (Note: To be eligible for funding, one municipal official must attend one of these workshops.
- Read these brief MPHA blog posts.
- Healthy Community Design Toolkit, 2nd edition, pages 56-77 (pdf, 5MB) from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Massachusetts Partnership for Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention
- Transportation and Health Tool, from the US Dept. of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. This tool “provides easy access to data that practitioners can use to examine the health impacts of transportation systems” including data on 14 transportation and public health indicators for each state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and urbanized area (UZA).
- Costs of complete streets (From National Complete Streets Coalition)
- Low Cost Pedestrian Improvements (from WalkBoston)
- Rural Walking Toolkit (from WalkBoston)
What are the public health benefits of complete streets?
- Equity and Health Equity
- Benefits for Older Adults
- Benefits for People with Disabilities
- Benefits for Children
What does a good complete streets policy look like?
In 2014 the complete streets policy for the Town of Littleton, MA, was identified by the National Complete Streets Coalition as the best in the nation. Developed together with their regional planning agency, MAPC, here is Littleton’s complete streets policy.
Which communities have complete streets policies?
- In Massachusetts see this list (prepared by the MA Municipal Association in July 2016).
- In the US, see the National Atlas of Complete Streets Policies
Who can help my city/town plan for and/or implement complete streets?
- Your regional planning agency…
- Eastern MA
- Central MA
- Western MA
- Cape & Islands
2. If you are a Mass in Motion community can also access free technical assistance from:
- MA Association of Health Boards (ask for Cheryl Sbarra)
- MA Municipal Association (ask for DJ Wilson)
- MPHA (Andrea Freeman, 857-263-7072 x103)
- WalkBoston (ask for Stacey Beuttell or Adi Nochur)
The Backstory of “Complete Streets” in Massachusetts
Beginning in 2013, MPHA led the statewide coalition that advocated for what we (then) called “Active Streets.” After more than a year of intensive teamwork, the Active Streets Working Group succeeded in getting the “Complete Streets Certification Program” signed into law, within the Transportation Bond Bill of 2014. The team of advocates that helped make this happen included the Act FRESH coalition plus MAPC, MassBike, WalkBoston, and many other partners. In July 2015 the MA Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced a funding commitment of $12.5 million for what would be called the “Complete Streets Funding Program.”
If you have information to add to this page, please contact MPHA Field Director Andrea Freeman, 857-263-7072 x103.