Indiana House Bill 1354 was read on January 18th 2011. The bill as proposed would require INDOT to include “complete streets” guidelines into INDOT’s approved design manual. A summary of the bill, along with it’s travel through the legislature, can be read here.
When I first read about this, I pumped my fist in the air. Finally, someone has gotten to the lawmakers and a plan is in place to start moving forward in a progressive fashion. However, upon further examination, it appears that there may be a gaping loophole in the middle of the bill. There are stipulations that allow INDOT to wave complete streets policies in the event of:
- (1) pedestrian or other nonmotorized usage is prohibited by law on the highway, street, or other roadway that is the subject of the project or part of a project;
- (2) the cost of incorporating complete streets guidelines for the project or part of the project is excessively disproportionate to the benefits, as determined by the department; or
- (3) there is a demonstrated lack of present or future need for complete streets for the project or part of the project.
It is the 2nd bulletpoint which worries me the most. There is no criteria for justifying whether or not a project is excessively disproportionate to the benefits. If we leave it up to INDOT, history has shown that ALL complete streets guidelines are disproportionate to the benefit, or else they would already be included. Now, there are times when it may be hugely prohibitive to include items that may make pedestrian life simpler. If that is the case, a robust justification should be given by INDOT. However, the bill should carry with it some guideline for justifying this instead of leaving it up to the existing highway department. If that is the case, then it is the opinion of this writer, that we will be no closer to complete streets in Indiana, then we are today.
If you feel the same, I urge you to contact your state representative today and voice your concerns. It probably wouldn’t hurt to contact Nancy Dembowski (D) 17th District.