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Complete Street

Urban Revitalization and Complete Streets

Maggie Kearns Francis

June 6, 2016

Downtown revitalization provides great potential for future growth in urban areas. Revitalization works to develop the local economy, restore historic buildings and structures, and create streetscapes. The renewal also has cultural and social benefits when public spaces and community centers are developed. An integral part of revitalization is the development of complete streets, which creates public rights of way that are safe for all modes of transportation for all travelers, both drivers and pedestrians, into the development of surrounding land for the community.

What are Complete Streets?

In many urban revitalization projects, complete streets are developed. Complete streets integrate community life into efficient transportation systems; creating safe streets that provide a balance for all modes of transportation – walking, bicycling, transit riding and driving – while promoting local community growth. They are often a major component to urban revitalization because of their safety and accessibility features. The key to creating these systems is through collaboration with local agencies to ensure the overall needs of the community are fulfilled.


Complete streets have numerous benefits, the greatest include:

  1. Increased safety
  2. Incorporation of multiple modes of efficient transportation
  3. Healthier communities by encouraging walking and biking
  4. Reduction of fuel emissions

Urban Revitalization

Urban revitalization efforts consider transportation, land uses, and all surrounding networks to create the best environment that is most beneficial to the community. They create safe walking routes for pedestrians, bike lanes, bus stops, and effective traffic flows for driving commuters, creating an accessible system for all people living and working in the neighborhood.


Urban revitalization may be happening in your neighborhood! For example, ODOT worked with Columbus and downtown community stakeholders as part of the I-70/I-71 reconstruction to create a transportation system that met traffic demands while also revitalizing the area to include walking spaces and plenty of bike paths for nearby commuters. With the combined investment from ODOT, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the City of Columbus, city streets adjacent to the interstate were reconstructed with:

  • New sidewalks
  • Bike lanes
  • Brick crosswalks and sidewalk corners at intersections
  • On-street parking
  • Street trees
  • Decorative street lights and traffic signal mast arms
  • Granite curbs
  • Bus stops


These reconstructed streets create a more welcoming environment to walk, bike and use transit, improving accessibility to downtown and adjacent neighborhoods that were once divided by the original freeway construction.

Safe, Healthy, and Efficient

With a variety of transportation options available, communities can see an increase in transportation capacity but also a decrease in the intensity of traffic. This helps create an overall more efficient transportation system by allowing commuters to walk, bike, use public transportation, or drive. Plus, the reduction of fuel emissions from the decrease in drivers creates cleaner air. Cleaner air coupled with an increase in biking and walking makes for a healthier community!

Creating an Attractive Community

And you can’t forget the aesthetic benefits! Because of the increased foot traffic and the ease and accessibility of complete streets, revitalized locations are often very attractive places to live, work, and invest. Coupled with other urban revitalization efforts, these areas are more than just beautiful places to live, they are efficient and economically prosperous as well. People not only want to live in this environment, but work and find entertainment there as well, bringing a host of retailers, restaurants, and offices to the community.


These revitalized and “walkable communities” create social interactions and overall healthier and happier residents. Revitalization is a revolution that integrates communities’ needs, transportation systems, and local land development into one efficient system.


Interested in revitalizing your city? Contact us at to get started!