Caltrans launches Complete Street project policy

Aspects of approach evident along Interstate 5 in Encinitas


Mosaics are pictured at the Santa Fe Drive undercossing at Interstate 5 in Encinitas in late August 2020, installed as part of improved pedestrian and cyclist access with the Build NCC freeway project. (Photo by Jim Gilliam, courtesy of the city of Encinitas)

North Coast Current

Caltrans is broadening its approach to transportation projects with a new policy announced Dec. 20.

The state transportation agency’s Complete Street approach is designed to assure that safe, accessible options — whether they be transit, biking or walking — are included in its projects, according to a Caltrans news release. The goal is to expand such availability to help meet California’s climate, health and equity goals.

“California must reduce dependence on driving without sacrificing mobility and accessibility,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in the announcement. “As Caltrans and local transportation agencies prepare for the influx of new federal infrastructure funding, it is important that we provide safe, convenient, sustainable and accessible alternatives to driving to achieve our climate goals while equitably serving all Californians.”

The Complete Street approach includes options that make transportation accessible to users of all ages and abilities, Caltrans stated. This would include access for those people using assistive mobility devices.

The policy includes a partnership model with local communities.

“As part of the new policy, Caltrans commits to remove administrative barriers and partner with communities and local agencies to ensure more projects on state and local transportation systems improve the connectivity to pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities, and accessibility to destinations,” Caltrans stated in its news release. “If not appropriate to the context or community of the project, projects must receive approval from Caltrans before complete streets features are excluded.”

Coastal north San Diego County is seeing similar aspects of this approach in the Build NCC project, which has focused on expanding Interstate 5 alongside additional transportation options and environmental restoration.

Encinitas, for example, has seen bicycle, pedestrian and community enhancements as the project has moved north along Interstate 5.

Improved pedestrian and cyclist access has completed at the Encinitas Boulevard and Santa Fe Drive freeway undercrossings, along with new pedestrian and bike connection points. Improvements were made to the Chesterfield Drive railroad crossing in Cardiff, and a pedestrian bridge is under construction at Interstate 5 and San Elijo Lagoon.

Build NCC work is also underway through Carlsbad.

Caltrans’ full Complete Street policy is available on the agency’s announcement page.

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