Press-Republican: Transportation crucial to community
PLATTSBURGH — The importance of transportation was stressed during the third of four Vision2Action public forums.
Jeff Olson of the Saratoga Springs office of Alta Planning and Design gave a presentation on the Complete Streets initiative, calling it “the single biggest change that is happening in transportation infrastructure in this country.”
SHARING THE ROAD
Complete Streets calls for roads to be designed with all potential users in mind. That includes pedestrians, bicyclists, the elderly, children, people with disabilities, mass-transit riders and motorists.
Olson told those gathered at the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum that New York law requires all state, county and local transportation agencies to consider Complete Streets design principles for all future projects that receive state and federal funds.
The design ideas can even help with economic development, he said. After the City of Raleigh, N.C., found that the new streets resulted in increased pedestrian traffic, he said, that information was used to attract businesses to those areas.
Olson said municipalities should look at using Complete Streets principles for any projects to be built. The goal is not to get rid of motor-vehicle traffic, he said, but to achieve a better balance with other forms of transportation.
Laurie Williams, coordinator of health and education for the Clinton County Health Department talked about how the varied forms of transportation can lead to healthier communities.
The transportation network should serve the population’s need to get around in a way that enhances health, she said. It should offer balanced and affordable modes of transportation and decrease the reliance on automobiles, where possible. That could be done by building or modifying communities to connect opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists and provide access to public transit without the need to drive to it.
“Transportation is access; thus, transportation is opportunity,” Williams said.
A recent trend is to require sidewalks in new developments, she said, noting sidewalks and streetlights promote safe exercise and more social interaction.
PETITION FOR CHANGE
She has even been approached by people who would like to change the configuration of Margaret Street between Georgia-Pacific and Scomotion Creek in the City of Plattsburgh.
Judy Bechard would like to see a single lane of traffic in each direction, with a left-turn lane in the center and a bike lane to connect the lane on Cumberland Avenue and the Karen Fleury Bike Path. She collected 190 signatures of people riding or walking in that area, as well as local businesses, in support of that idea.
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By DAN HEATH, Press-Republican