Planners designing road improvements in La Crosse County will be required to consider bike paths and accommodations for pedestrians, under a Complete Streets policy approved unanimously by the County Board this week.
The policy tracks along with laws that require similar consideration in projects funded with state and federal dollars, and applies the requirements to local road work.
According to the La Crosse Tribune, the policy is the first at the county level in Wisconsin.
“This policy shows the county is progressive and is moving forward,” County Highway Commissioner Ron Chamberlain said. “When reconstructing roads, looking at all modes of transportation is a necessary thing.
“We can now show as a county that we not only talk the talk, but walk the walk,” he said.
Following the guidelines of the Federal Highway Administration, the Wisconsin Legislature adopted a Complete Streets law in 2009.
Under the law, the Department of Transportation must include bikeways and pedestrian ways in all new highway construction and reconstruction projects funded with state or federal dollars. There are exceptions, however, if the cost would exceed the usefulness or there is a lack of necessity.
To some extent, the department and the secretary has wide discretion whether to include bikeways or sidewalks in projects.