By Stephanie Livingston, PLA, EI
Our last blog post, “Global Streets: Part 1”, focused on how streets around the world are transitioning to become quality spaces for all. As we continue to examine the National Association of City Transportation Official’s (NACTO) Global Street Design Guide, it is important to consider how these concepts can be applied to our local communities in Tennessee and surrounding areas. While streets around the world are transitioning to become quality spaces for all, Tennesseans can not only follow strong examples for creating a stunning and functional backdrop for public life but also lead in activating positive change in our own environments.
Through a recent initiative by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), communities across the state are now actively focusing on providing access to all, even the most vulnerable, users. This consists of cities and towns across the state creating plans for transitioning existing infrastructure and constructing new public projects to meet accessibility requirements. In addition, there are also opportunities to build upon this momentum to create spaces that, through design, transform the public realm into an area of universal access in terms of not only mobility but also enjoyment for all users.
To create such spaces, holistic designs often look at entire corridors to address mobility and public spaces. In Johnson City, LDA Engineering has had the opportunity to work on a team with Kimley-Horn and others to study one such corridor – the West Walnut Street Corridor. With downtown on one end, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) on the other, and residential and recreational facilities on either side, this corridor has high potential for a focused investment on public infrastructure to support a multi-modal corridor. By reallocating the existing right-of-way, West Walnut Street is intended to become a street that supports active transportation by prioritizing pedestrians through wider sidewalks, narrower vehicular lanes, and appropriate street furnishings and providing a safe route for cyclists through dedicated, and possibly protected, bike lanes.
Other areas across the state are incorporating standards that align with the global street design concepts. During a recent visit to Nashville, I had the opportunity to participate in a bike tour through North Nashville and Historic Germantown. This area is swiftly growing and quickly redeveloping as many areas in Nashville are, requiring thoughtful design for balancing the needs of many users. For examples, wide sidewalks, high-quality transit, cycle tracks, and other cycling infrastructure are present throughout improved areas. These elements work together with the private sector and other aspects of the public sector to engender positive change in one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Don’t miss the chance to hear Stephanie Livingston speak on this topic at the 2018 TCAPWA/SWANA Conference in Nashville (October 21-23).