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Joplin ranked for Complete Streets policy in new Smart Growth America Report

The City of Joplin ranked as the fourth-best Complete Streets policy in a new report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. 

Evaluations were conducted using the Complete Streets Policy Framework, a national model of best practices to create a Complete Streets policy that can be implemented at any level of governance, in any type of community.

The City of Joplin’s policy was enacted in 2022.

Complete Streets are designed and operated to provide safety and accessibility for all users of our roadways and trail systems, including pedestrians, bicyclists, trolley users, motorists, emergency vehicles, freight and commercial vehicles, and people of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets principles contribute to safety, health, equity, and economic viability by providing accessible and efficient connections between home, school, work, recreation, and retail destinations and improving the transportation environment throughout the City of Joplin.

Joplin’s ordinance formalizes the planning, design, operations, and maintenance of our streets so they are safe for all ages and abilities and provide a multimodal transportation network. This initiative is also part of the Action Plans passed by the Joplin City Council in 2021. Citizens also showed their support for this plan at the polls when they passed the Use Tax in November 2021. Revenues from the Use Tax are dedicated to completing the City’s 47 Action Plans.

“Joplin recognizes the importance of Complete Streets for all of our citizens,” said Troy Bolander, Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Improvement. “This has been a concentrated effort with our transportation planning team along with the support of the City Council and administration. We are focused on providing transportation options in areas that may be disconnected so residents can better access common destinations they seek such as the grocery store, medical visits, and City parks.

“This was truly a team approach to develop this and get it adopted,” said Bolander. There were several key members leading the efforts including Taylor Cunningham, our former Transportation Planner who worked closely with Michael Kelley of BikeWalkKC and Ron Bentch with Missourians for Responsible Transportation in helping us develop our policy. We greatly appreciate their work and now have a strong Complete Streets plan for Joplin.”

Stated within the report – With a 100 out of 100 available points, there’s not much about the Joplin policy that’s not top-notch. But a few specific points are still worth highlighting. The Joplin Complete Streets policy set a goal in its vision and intent to prioritize underinvested and underserved communities: “While this ordinance applies throughout the community, Joplin shall develop plans and set goals to prioritize and ensure the successful implementation of Complete Streets in neighborhoods which have experienced historic underinvestment.”

The policy requires proactive land-use planning, including revising existing land-use policies, plans, and zoning ordinances. As a result, Joplin’s new zoning and development code will set minimum standards to enhance roadway safety, like 10 feet widths for multi-use paths.

As Joplin’s Complete Streets Committee makes progress on implementation, more policies and standards like these will be updated. The Complete Streets policy will be at the heart of the city’s plans and investments for the future.

“A strong Complete Streets policy is a crucial step to combatting the historic increase in pedestrian fatalities in the United States,” said Beth Osborne, VP of Transportation and Thriving Communities at Smart Growth America. “We applaud Joplin’s commitment to creating a policy that is poised to produce tangible improvements that will make their streets safer. ”

The Best Complete Streets Policies Report 2023 evaluates and ranks the 157 Complete Streets policies passed across the country since 2019, in jurisdictions of many sizes and contexts. Complete Streets is an approach to planning, designing, building, and maintaining streets that enable safe access for everyone, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. This approach emphasizes the needs of those who have experienced systemic underinvestment, or whose needs are not met through traditional transportation approaches, representing a paradigm shift from a status quo that prioritizes moving vehicles quickly at the expense of pedestrian safety.

To view the full rankings and to access the report, visit:

The Best Complete Streets Policies 2023 – Smart Growth America

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