Moses Lake adopts new streets policy

Plans for all road users

Moses Lake recently adopted a Complete Streets ordiance, which requires future streets projects to consider all users in their design, including pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles.

MOSES LAKE - New Moses Lake street projects will soon be required to take all users, not just drivers, into account.

City councilmembers recently passed the first reading of an ordinance creating a Complete Streets Program to ensure all users are planned for in the construction of city transportation improvement projects.

"The City of Moses Lake encourages healthy, active living, reduction of traffic congestion and fossil fuels and improvement in the safety and quality of life," the ordinance states.

It goes on to say the city will hereafter plan, design and construct all new transportation projects to provide "reasonable and appropriate" accommodations for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. The ordinance exempts cases where there is no identified need for such projects, they would be contrary to public safety, would contradict the city's comprehensive plan or the cost would be disproportionate to probable future use.

The new ordinance was fashioned from Complete Streets policies adopted by other cities, according to Municipal Services Director Gary Harer.

"Ours is very brief and very general," he said. "Some cities have made theirs much more detailed, such as Spokane."

Adoption of a Complete Streets ordinance is required to apply for grants from a Washington State Department of Transportation grant program created in 2011 to encourage local jurisdictions to adopt Complete Street ordinances. Harer said at this time the state legislature has set no money aside for the grant program, although he's hopeful there will be funding in the future.

Moses Lake is the 18th Washington city to adopt a Complete Streets policy, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition website.

The coalition argues incomplete streets, or those designed with only cars in mind, limit transportation choices by making walking, bicycling and taking public transportation inconvenient and sometimes even dangerous. Creating more holistic transportation policies allows safer, easier options for people of all ages and abilities.

"This helps connect the entire community to vital services," said Theresa Fuller with the Grant County Health District, adding the Moses Lake Trails Planning Team is a strong supporter of the concept.

After a second reading of the ordinance, Moses Lake streets projects will include consideration of bike lanes, wider sidewalks and planter strips, much of which Harer said the city already takes into account.

"We've done a lot of this already. We already look at this when we design streets," he said, clarifying the ordinance only applies to new transportation projects and re-designs, with current streets grand-fathered in.

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