Cooperation by the Twin Cities is what pushed them to the front for a national transportation planning honor, according to a national planning advocacy group.
Lewiston and Auburn were recognized Tuesday for having the fourth-best implementation of the Complete Streets policy out of 80 policies adopted in 2013 by Smart Growth America.
Complete Streets is a policy, adopted last spring by both city councils, that requires developers and local officials to consider all modes and methods of transportation when designing street improvements.
“The key seems to be the level of collaboration and coordination, that the two cities actually made a point of making sure they had the same standards,” said Smart Growth Maine spokesperson Nancy Smith.”If someone is building a bridge or a street that crosses the city line, the standards won’t change.”
The policy was drawn up by Twin Cities staff and adapted by joint Lewiston-Auburn Bike-Ped Committee.
“I think this is the start of more positive recognition coming our way,” Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said. “We are starting to talk about building a Lewiston-Auburn that can compete to attract talent and businesses. This type of recognition, at a national scale, shows we are starting to pick up momentum.”
The policy requires the cities to consider more than just cars when they plan to reconstruct a road. That would include accommodating bikes, wheel chairs, walking paths and having signs and recognizable painted lane and intersection controls within easy reach.
It also requires all changes to fit with the neighborhood.
Lewiston City Engineer Richard Burnham said the policy has already been used in last summer’s redesign of Walnut Street.
“We have bulb-outs at each intersection that slows traffic down and allows a safer place for pedestrians to cross,” Burnham said. “Pedestrian ramps are bigger and there is more of a flat pad at the beginning. We have tactile pads on the ground there so people can feel that they are on a ramp.”
LaBonte said the policy was key in getting bicycle lanes painted along Main Street south of Academy Street last summer. He expects the policy will come into play for paving and work projects along Park Avenue north of Lake Street and Minot Avenue.
“There are projects emerging in the pipeline that will reclaim these streets for people,” LaBonte said.
Of 80 communities that adopted Complete Streets policies, 15 were honored Tuesday by Smart Growth America. Littleton, Mass., Peru, Ind., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranked higher than Lewiston-Auburn.
“For Littleton, their implementation plan was very thorough,” Smith said. “They made sure that all components of the implementation were covered.”