A key committee of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday approved guidelines that will encourage local communities to incorporate pedestrian-friendly components into local road projects.
The Transportation Policy Committee at a morning meeting at Michigan City Hall approved four amendments to NIRPC's Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines as first approved by the agency in 2010.
The action also calls for the use of best practices from a complete streets manual put out by the advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance "to the greatest degree possible."
"We are just trying to put out a family of best practices that you can use," said NIRPC Non-motorized Transportation Planner Mitch Barloga.
Complete streets refers to the practice of giving due consideration to pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities and others when planning transportation projects. Specific elements include obstruction-free sidewalks, bicycle lanes on streets, sidewalk ramps at crosswalks, and pedestrian-friendly crossing signals.
The vote of approval by the committee must now be approved by the NIRPC executive board at its March 21 meeting in order to become official policy.
The committee also voted for an amendment to its Transportation Improvement Plan, which approves using $193,400 in federal funds for establishment of a bus shuttle service to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The committee also heard about another project that will improve access to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The Indiana Department of Transportation will let for bid construction contracts for portions of the Dunes Kankakee Trail along Ind. 49 in April.
Two sections of the Dunes Kankakee Trail between Oak Hill Road and the National Park will be completed this year, with completion of other sections along that stretch to follow, according to INDOT local projects manager Chris Reynolds.