Checking in on Washington State’s Complete Streets Law

A new requirement that mandates bike and pedestrian improvements on state road projects is starting to pay off with real commitments to Complete Streets infrastructure.

2 minute read

April 9, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Edmonds, Washington with road in foreground and buidings surrounded by trees

Cascade Creatives / Edmonds, Washington

According to an article by The Urbanist’s Ryan Packer, Washington state’s new Complete Streets law is starting to pay off. Part of a legislative package known as Move Ahead Washington, the mandate requires the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to “coordinate adding bike and pedestrian facilities when basic maintenance is planned.” 

As Packer explains, “Any state highway projects over $500,000 in cost now require the state to evaluate whether gaps in both existing bicycle and pedestrian networks can be filled, and standards are required to be adhered to when it comes to separation between those facilities and automobile travel lanes.” 

The law could soon prove itself in Edmonds, where a “full overhaul” of State Route 99 is underway. For Edmonds, the new requirements mean adding 4.5-foot bike lanes in each direction to their original road redesign plans. “The real time changes we see to accommodate the extra nine feet of space required are planned buffers and planting strips narrowing and the twelve foot business access-and-transit (BAT) lanes shrinking by one foot each. Otherwise the six travel lanes along the highway are unaffected.” These small but important changes, Packer notes, would have been left on the table without the Complete Streets law.

Packer details the funding allocated to Complete Streets and other projects around the state slated to get bike and pedestrian improvements. Optimistically, Packer concludes that “The new requirement has the potential to correct decades of oversights from local leaders and transportation officials when it comes to the bike and pedestrian networks on Washington’s state highways.”

Thursday, April 6, 2023 in The Urbanist

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