Roadways are the most visible and productive component of our national, state, and regional transportation infrastructure. These facilities demand constant monitoring, maintenance, and management to ensure an acceptable level of service for a growing region.
As part of the Congestion Management Process, the Birmingham MPO developed a Regional Thoroughfare Plan. The Regional Thoroughfare Plan also includes a guide for local communities intended to provide information and direction about how to develop effective local thoroughfare plans either as a component of a larger comprehensive plan or as a stand-alone element.
The regional thoroughfare plan is a planning tool and will not be binding on any community unless they choose to adopt all or parts of it.
Good street design can improves livability by accommodating local travel needs and creating a safe, inviting space for community activity. Street design elements such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bikeways, on-street parking, street trees, landscaping, street lighting, bus shelters, benches and curb extensions provide an attractive environment where pedestrians, cyclists, and transit service safely co-existing.
As part of the RTP process, the Birmingham MPO developed a complete streets and routine accommodation policy. Policy 10 of the RTP states, “Project sponsors shall give due consideration to the accommodation of bicycles, pedestrians, citizens with disabilities, and transit supportive infrastructure in project planning and design.”
Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in new construction and reconstruction of all transportation projects unless exceptional circumstances exist. Waivers of this consideration may be granted if one or more of the following five conditions are met:
- Cyclists and pedestrians are prohibited by law from using the roadway (e.g. grade separated interstates, expressways, and highways). In this instance, a greater effort may be necessary to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians elsewhere within the right of way or within the same transportation corridor.
- The cost of establishing bikeways or walkways would be excessively disproportioned to the need or probable use. Excessively disproportionate is defined as exceeding twenty percent of the cost of the larger transportation project. In this case, the project sponsor shall propose an alternate design or spend 20 percent of the project cost of the larger project for new and/or improved existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities adjacent to the project (e.g. a parallel multi-use trail or sidewalk improvements along adjacent local streets).
- The project is within a sparsely populated rural (non-urban) area where there is no present or future demand expected throughout the larger project’s useful life.
The Complete Streets Policy is a statement of intent aimed specifically at providing guidance for project development. It is strongly tied to the regional thoroughfare plan where roadway design standards have been developed as an implementation step.
The Regional Thoroughfare Plan supports implementation of the RTP aspirations for developing complete streets by providing tools to better integrate street designs with nearby land uses. Complete Streets are roadways designed to safely and comfortably accommodate all users, including, but not limited to motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, transit and school bus riders, delivery and service personnel, freight haulers, and emergency responders. “All users” includes people of all ages and abilities. A well-planned street system can help prevent congestion while encouraging walking, transit and bicycling.
Read more about the Regional Thoroughfare Plan.