LEWISTON — Councilors voiced their support Tuesday of a policy aimed at making Twin Cities streets more friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users.

“I think this is one of the most affordable economic development tools in the tool kit,” Councilor Nate Libby said. “It makes the city very attractive, particularly to young people. I’m very supportive of this policy.”

City Councilor Craig Saddlemire, a member of the Lewiston-Auburn Bicycle Pedestrian Committee, briefed his colleagues on the proposed Complete Streets Policy.

It would require the city to plan for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, mass transit and delivery vehicles as well as motorists when they reconstruct a city street or approve a new development.

It’s one of the first changes proposed by the Lewiston-Auburn Bicycle Pedestrian Committee. Auburn’s City Council reviewed the proposed policy last month and is scheduled to vote on it at their April 16 meeting.

“Originally, I was concerned that this would add a layer of work for staff,” Councilor Mark Cayer said.

It’s designed to do the opposite, Saddlemire said.

“It does not mean bicycle lanes on every single street or focusing on one special project,” Saddlemire said. “It does not mean a single design prescription. We are not going to say that there is one way to build a street, and every street should look like this one. And it’s not a mandate for suddenly retrofitting every street in the city.”

The policy would require the city to consider more than just cars when they plan to reconstruct a road. That would include accommodating bikes, wheelchairs and walking paths with signs and recognizable painted lanes, as well as intersection controls within easy reach.

It also requires all changes to fit with the neighborhood.

Minor maintenance, such as filling potholes and crack sealing, could be performed without triggering bike-lane improvements. It would also let the city forgo the changes if they’d expand the road onto private property or into the flood plain.

But city projects would need approval from the Bike-Ped Committee if they wanted to exempt a reconstruction project.

Cayer said that was the one change he would make — letting the city administrator exempt projects from the requirements if they increased drastically in cost.

“It’s something to suggest, but it would not change my vote,” Cayer said. “I’ll support it, but I think there should be an exemption.”

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