Meridian Completes the Streets

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By Florian Cherdron
Meridian Times staff writer

Meridian Township — Meridian Township is working to improve public safety on its roads and pathways.The township was recently given a $4,500 grant to improve public safety and increase awareness of safe travel habits.The grant was awarded by the Ingham County Health Department. The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in 2009, to create jobs by investing in infrastructure, education, health and green energy.

Complete Streets is a movement dedicated to making roads safer and more convenient for various transportation methods. In the ideal “Complete Street,” there are separate lanes for cars, buses and bikes as well as pedestrian pathways.

“Here in Michigan we have about 70 ordinances at the local level, which is the most of any state,” said John Lindenmayer, a member of the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition.

The group helped start the push for statewide and local legislation that sets standards for city and township planning, according to Lindenmayer.

“Complete Streets means that the roads in the township will address everyone’s needs,” said Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie. “Whether you’re in a car, walking, or in a wheelchair, complete streets will accommodate you.”

Use of the grant began with a Jan. 31 workshop, where the public could share ideas with township officials. Along with the workshop, the township held a survey on citizens’ travel habits. Some funding was also used to create a video that further explains complete streets.

The Meridian Complete Streets survey showed that more than 60 percent of people polled would travel by means other than cars if there were more sidewalks and bike lanes.

The township board recently started work on a complete streets ordinance with standards for township roadways.

“With the roads, we don’t really have any authority, but with this ordinance, we will be able to work more closely with MDOT and the Ingham County Road Commission,” said Meridian Township Principal Planner Gail Oranchak.

The state has attached complete streets guidelines to the funding, according to Brixie. If there is no ordinance to determine where the funding goes, a township will not be eligible to receive the funding.

“Lansing did this same process that we are now doing last year,” said Oranchak.

Oranchak said that the township may be able to receive more money once the ordinance goes into effect.

According to Brixie, complete streets will benefit the township in other ways.

“Statistics have shown that communities with complete streets are more attractive to young people, so our hope is that this will draw younger people into the area,” said Brixie.

The full public forum for complete streets in Meridian Township can be viewed here.

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