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Report: Complete Streets Deliver More Than Just Good Vibes

Better safety and multimodal ease are not the only benefits offered by complete streets. According to this report, on the average they pay for themselves and then some.
April 24, 2015, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Eric Sehr

Since the town of Normal in Illinois adopted a complete streets approach, business and walkability have skyrocketed. Laura Searfoss writes, "Today, more than 40 percent of all trips in Uptown Normal are by foot or bicycle. Since these improvements, it experienced a boost in retail sales (46 percent) and attracted more than $160 million in private investment." The Complete Streets project cost Normal $47 million. 

While the safety and livability benefits of complete streets are intangible, redesign for multiple modes can also make sound business sense. A recent report from Smart Growth America makes the economic case for investment in complete streets. Arguments include:

  • Safer streets protect human life, but they also save a city money: "Each collision that a safer street helps to avoid represents avoided costs from emergency room visits, hospital charges, rehabilitation, and doctor visits, as well as the cost of property damage."
  • Complete streets, on average, don't strain public coffers: "The average cost of a project was just $2.1 million—far less than the $9 million average cost of projects in state transportation improvement plans."
  • Arteries with complete streets engineering attract greater private investment, boosting tax revenue and land value.
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Published on Thursday, April 9, 2015 in ASLA The Dirt
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