Local Government Complete Streets Implementation Strategies

photo of two Delaware municipal comprehensive plan coversPlans

Local plans should be prepared to reflect complete streets principles and improve multi-modal transportation options (e.g., a jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan, official map, capital-improvement program, and specific plans for downtown revitalization, trails, circulation plans, and ADA compliance–transition plans).

Comprehensive Plans

As the visioning and guiding document for communities, a local government’s comprehensive plan serves a vital role in shaping communities.  To develop inclusive transportation networks, a community needs to evaluate how well its comprehensive plan facilitates complete streets. IPA’s online Healthy Communities: Comprehensive Plan Assessment Tool is designed to help municipalities create comprehensive plans that include the five overarching principles of planning for a healthy community, one of which is complete streets.  

Circulation Plans

In the past, many circulation plans focused strictly on traffic and the movement of vehicles.   Circulation plans are now being developed by local jurisdictions and MPOs to provide an in-depth study and plan for long-range improvements to the street network; trail system(s); vehicular, bus, pedestrian, and bicycle circulation; and on- and off-street parking. These 20- to 30-year plans provide guidance on future capital improvements as it relates to implementing a long-term vision for providing multi-modal transportation.  In addition to circulation plans, pedestrian and bicycle master plans may be developed to focus on specific mode share goals, improvement priorities, and implementation strategies for a community.

ADA Transition Plans

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities.  This requirement extends not only to physical access at government facilities, programs, and events but also to policy changes to comply with federal law.  Under ADA, public agencies with more than 50 employees (including local governments) are required to develop and implement an ADA Transition Plan.  An ADA Transition Plan identifies the disability access needs of a local government as well as a plan of action/timeframe for bringing local streets, public facilities, policies, and practices in compliance with ADA.  Once an ADA Transition Plan is adopted, it needs to be regularly updated. ADA Transition Plans must include the following:

  • The outcomes of the self-evaluation or inventory that identifies/lists physical obstacles that limit accessibility
  • A detailed plan of action to address and remedy accessibility issues
  • A timetable for implementing the plan of action
  • The name of the local government official responsible for plan implementation
  • A public outreach component, including a record of public input opportunities for plan development
For more information on ADA and Transition Plan requirements, please see the United States Department of Justice’s ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual, Covering State and Local Government Programs and Services.