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Complete Streets

In fall 2019, the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) workgroup was accepted to participate in the Missouri Complete Streets Consortium Series. The series is led by The National Complete Streets Coalition, a non-profit, non-partisan alliance of public interest organizations and transportation professionals committed to the development and implementation of Complete Streets policies and practices.

Complete Streets is the integration of people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. Complete Streets plays an important role in creating healthy and equitable communities. The formula may look different from one community to the next, but it is essential that the voices and perspectives of the people impacted are heard throughout the process. This winter and spring, a group of ten HEAL representatives will learn how to weave together design, community collaboration, policy and implementation in hopes of enacting stronger and more consistent Complete Streets policies throughout the county.

The series is taught through a number of in-person and online workshops. Teams consist of Eastern Jackson County (EJC) HEAL members, as well as a team from Kirkwood and a team from Joplin. All three teams will visit each community over the course of the series.

The first in-person workshop was held in January here in EJC. We were able to share some of the Complete Streets wins throughout our community, including downtown Lee’s Summit, as well as brainstorm possible ways to create more activity-friendly transportation throughout the rest of the county. The in-person workshop consisted of hands-on activities that allowed HEAL members to reimagine what EJC could look like with more activity-friendly infrastructure. In one activity, teams were given aerial maps of a Blue Springs neighborhood and Legos. Using our Legos, we were instructed to reconstruct the neighborhood to include sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as mixed land use with combined residential housing and commercial businesses. It was great to take a bird’s eye view of an EJC community and see the possibilities for changing it. If a walk to the grocery store could be more direct and pleasant, how would we all benefit?

Additionally, we did a case study of a particular road segment in Grandview. Teams did a “Walking Audit” of the road to assess the existing dangers, as well as find opportunities and solutions to make changes on the road that would make Grandview safer and healthier. With the help of the instructors, the teams created redesigns of the road which the City of Grandview can now use as they move forward with their upcoming project.

Ultimately, this consortium will strengthen the HEAL team as we work with EJC municipalities to adopt and update Complete Streets policies that support regional connectivity and transportation for residents of all ages, incomes, and abilities.