How much does Complete Streets Cost?
The fear of additional costs for Complete Streets is common. Many people believe that every street will need to be retrofitted with improved sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes when the policy is adopted. This is not true – the most common method of implementation is to make incremental improvements during regular maintenance. New roadway projects will include these elements from the beginning, during the design phase before construction has started.
Some standard Complete Streets infrastructure projects, such as changing pedestrian signal timing at intersections, add nothing to the cost of a signal.
- In Charlotte, NC, the Department of Transportation found that the cost of adding sidewalks and bike lanes was less than the normal annual variation in road construction costs.
- A study of the costs in Iowa estimated that including Complete Streets infrastructure would increase project costs by 5.4%. In other words, 95% of the planned and scheduled projects could still be completed with current funding levels, with the added benefit of biking and walking infrastructure. (See fact sheet for further examples and citations.)
Additional costs associated with the routine accommodation of walking, bicycling and public transit represent a small percentage of a transportation department’s total budget. On a project-by-project basis, any additional money spent is actually a long-term investment in public health, improved property values, economic revitalization, and increased capacity and improved mobility for all. Americans expect a variety of choices, and a multi-modal system of Complete Streets provides alternatives to driving. Implementing Complete Streets shifts our priorities to design for all users of the road.
Trailnet advocates for comprehensive Complete Streets legislation. Complete Streets policies ensure early multi-modal scoping, saving money by avoiding costly project delays. Without a policy, walking, biking, and public transportation accommodations are often debated too late in the design process and considered a disruption rather than necessary and beneficial project features. This creates expensive design revisions, time delays, and erodes public support. Furthermore, the failure to accommodate these user groups can trigger an expensive retroﬁt project at a later date.
Complete Streets makes fiscal sense and it meets the demands of our highest growing demographics. Without this legislation, people will simply choose to live in better connected places. Voters have twice chosen to tax themselves to create a more walkable, bikeable, connected region with Prop C in 2000 and Prop P in 2013. St. Louis County is poised to be a national leader with the adoption of this policy.