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'Complete Streets' Gaining Traction in Kentucky

Greg Stotelmyer

Health advocates are pointing to what's happening in Grant County as an example of how an inclusive transportation network can lead to a healthier community.

The idea is known as complete street, where all users of the roadway, including walkers and bikers, are considered during planning and renovations.

Marsha Bach, health promotion manager with the Northern Kentucky Health Department, says Williamstown has made that part of its master plan, while Corinth and Dry Ridge have passed complete streets resolutions.

"Once you have a complete street in place there's more pedestrian facilities, there's more bike facilities,” she points out. “When those facilities are in place, more people are out on the streets, they're being more physically active."

Bach adds that's important because Kentucky has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.

With the complete street approach, the entire right-of-way is planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained to provide safe access for all users. Bach says flexibility is important.

"It may not be feasible to have all elements of a complete street, but maybe what you do have is a sidewalk on both sides, or maybe you're able to have a sidewalk on one side and you have bike lanes," she says.

Complete streets legislation was introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly in 2008 and 2012, but did not pass.

Bach acknowledges concerns about the cost of complete streets, but says there are inexpensive things that can be done.

"Changing cross walk signals to allow for more time for pedestrians to cross, that's not a huge cost for you,” she stresses. “So, there are small changes you can make that are part of the complete streets elements."

Bach says road striping, to add bike lanes, is another example.

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