Ingersoll Avenue is on its way to becoming a "Complete Street". The 6th Avenue revitalization project has identified "Complete Streets" as a goal of the infrastructure improvements. Beaverdale intends to remake a major neighborhood intersection to align with a "Complete Streets" philosophy. The City of Des Moines has adopted, over vocal objections of some business owners and residents, a general policy promoting "Complete Streets".
What is a Complete Street?
Bike-Friendly Street in Toronto: Copyright notice: This image was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.Beginning with the advent of the interstate highway system and the ensuing suburban construction explosion, streets have been designed with one overarching goal: to move cars as fast as possible from starting point to final destination. In contrast, Complete Streets refers to a roadway that is designed and operated with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
A complete street is not necessarily urban. However, urban areas are inherently compatible with the complete streets philosophy - urbanity depends on density, layered uses, and interacting transportation networks. The idea behind an urban "Complete Streets" makeover is to consciously design and operate a roadway to take advantage of all that an urban environment has to offer.
A Complete Streets Extreme Makeover
Several weeks ago, I proposed removing a section of Interstate 235 that divides downtown from the neighborhoods to the north and slices through the heart of several established neighborhoods.
Ultimately, the city would be better served by a transportation network that links downtown to the rest of the city instead of providing a direct conduit to the suburbs.
UPDATE, 6/25/2010After a long discussion with my wife last night, I came up with the following clarification. I think the highway should lead to Downtown Des Moines as a destination by dumping out onto a "connector" that is tied to the street grid between 42nd street and the Capitol complex. This "complete streets" connector would be designed to do all of the following:
- Move automobile traffic efficiently
- Create a better relationship between downtown and the neighborhoods to the north
- Layer transportation systems (pedestrian bike, auto, and transit) into a street that works for many different "trip types"
- Promote more efficient use of the existing urban street grid
- Take pressure off the streets that currently feed limited access points to the highway
But what would replace the Interstate? A Complete Street, of course! Let's see what that might look like:
Mixed-Use Complete Streets Replacement for Interstate 235: A potential design for reclaiming Interstate 235 through downtown Des Moines as a "Complete Street".