September webinar: A guide for complete transportation—Arizona DOT’s new design guide

By Mary Ebeling

In February, Arizona DOT published its much-anticipated Complete Transportation Guidebook, which ADOT views as a conversation about integrating sustainable transportation practices into the planning, scoping, and design of the project development process. The guide seeks to incorporate multiple transportation modes and is meant to be accessible to government agencies at all levels that work on transportation projects. By providing guidance on available infrastructure choices with a complete transportation approach that covers the planning, scoping, and design of transportation improvement projects, ADOT is hoping to instill sustainability practices both inside and outside the agency.

Use of the guide by local governments is not required, but to encourage adoption of the new guidelines ADOT includes tools for local partners to work and plan with ADOT on flexibility in design speed, land use integration, complete streets design, context-sensitive design, and better integration of driving with other modes of transportation. This guidebook recognizes that lane widths and other design standards should be different in dense urban settings, suburban communities, and rural areas with sparse development. The same road may have to be built differently in different contexts to meet community needs.

Designed to complement existing ADOT initiatives, plans, and guidelines, this new guide draws on transportation practices such as complete streets, context-sensitive design, and land use integration.  Strategies and tools to improve the Arizona transportation system’s level of sustainability are envisioned as relevant to local governments in addition to the state DOT. As an entry point the guide offers users seven core strategies:

  • Understand the context
  • Establish and cultivate partnerships
  • Define wide-ranging measures of success
  • Establish a full spectrum of project needs and objectives
  • Consider a full set of alternatives
  • Plan for all users and modes of travel
  • Exercise available flexibility in design

While it is not mandatory for local governments to use the guide, ADOT is working to shepherd its adoption by municipalities and regions as a key part of institutionalizing a statewide culture that routinely follows a sustainable transportation decision-making path.

Steve Olmsted, ADOT Environmental Project Manager/Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, and Jennifer Toth, Director of Maricopa County Department of Transportation, joined us to discuss the new guidebook and how local communities are using it to build more livable and multimodal communities. A recording of the webinar is available on our website.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.