Millvale council unanimously passed a complete streets resolution Aug. 14 to provide “safe and convenient” roads for all users.
James Machajewski Jr., council president, and Eddie Figas, interim borough manager, wrote in a joint email that the resolution allows council to expedite projects related to improving mobility safety.
“The borough will use the resolution as a blueprint for establishing more detailed guidelines and ordinances that could address future infrastructure development,” the email states.
Updated infrastructure should consider people of “all ages and abilities,” including “pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, persons with accessibility needs, as well as motorists and freight drivers.”
Complete streets policies will apply during the “planning, design and operation of future municipal streets, sidewalks, trails, pedestrian and bicycle pathways, and other transportation projects.”
The resolution suggests that complete streets upgrades include the following: sidewalks, street and sidewalk lighting, pedestrian signals and crosswalks, improved pedestrian access to bus shelters, improvements providing Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, bicycle parking, shared-use lanes, wide travel lanes or bike lanes, as appropriate, and, finally, drainage and storm water facilities.
Road projects will incorporate complete streets principles, unless the following criteria exist: the cost would be “excessively disproportionate” to the need or probable long-term future use; there is no current or future need; the project “is comprised of ordinary maintenance activities designed to keep assets in serviceable conditions,” such as mowing, cleaning, sweeping, spot repair and surface treatments; and use by non-motorized users is illegal.
According to the resolution, improving mobility through alternative forms of transportation can improve air quality and limit negative environmental impacts from traffic.
Katt Schuler, Millvale Borough Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee chairwoman, said that Jesebel Rivera-Guerra, American Heart Association community health director, contacted her organization two years ago regarding the health benefits of increasing mobility through complete streets planning.
Zaheen Hussain, New Sun Rising sustainability director and Millvale sustainability coordinator, said that the committee had started educating itself on complete streets, as improved mobility is a component of the Millvale EcoDistrict Pivot Plan – a multi-year plan also emphasizing food, water, air quality, energy and equity initiatives.
Hussain said that Eric Boerer, Bike Pittsburgh advocacy director, connected the committee to resources to foster its members’ understanding of complete streets.
Machajewski and Figas mentioned that Councilman Brian Wolovich has proven “instrumental” as he has served as a liason between council and the committee.
“Having educated itself on the benefits of complete streets policies, the bike-ped committee is poised to be in a position of assistance for council as future transportation planning opportunities rise up,” Hussain said.
Schuler said continued education is a priority moving forward.
“Staying in step with a complete streets resolution is a dynamic process,” she said. “With each opportunity for infrastructure repair is an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation. It’s with the most up-to-date information that we’ll be able to advance our throughways for all of its users.”
In 2014, Millvale agreed to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure as part of its Multi-Municipal Joint Comprehensive Plan, in collaboration with Etna and Sharpsburg. The resolution also states that complete streets embodies the philosophy of the Live Well Allegheny program — of which Millvale is a part — because better mobility may result in improved health and well-being of residents and employees.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.