CNU and ITE Unveil New Street Design Manual

Proposed Recommended Practice Paves Way for True Urban Thoroughfares

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Earlier this year, the Institute for Transportation Engineers unveiled a real street design manual tailored for new urbanists. “Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities” addresses the challenges that new urbanists face in creating streets that match the urban built environment. The 255-page manual can be purchased at the CNU Store or can be downloaded from ITE.

This guide is being released as a proposed recommended practice for planners, engineers and others who design major urban thoroughfares. It gives planners and designers with guidance for interpreting existing American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) "Green Book" policy.

The manual is a joint effort between the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Congress for the New Urbanism, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

What’s inside?

According to New Urban News, the manual "offers substantially new thinking on street networks," including a focus on smaller blocks, tighter curb radiuses, and new attention to the roadside environment (including adjacent buildings and the urban fabric). CNU members will find some familiar concepts, since the guide introduces a design framework based on the Transect. This “context zone” framework categorizes urban areas into discrete ranges of density and intensity of development, and sets forth an array of thoroughfare types consistent with each range's characteristics.

Why do we need this manual?

This manual's guidance addresses the range of thoroughfares from collectors through major arterials (except limited access highways) in both established urban areas and newly urbanizing places. These guidelines will build upon the flexibility of AASHTO and other design criteria, to generate design application guidelines for all major thoroughfare types. The manual gives designers tools to flexibly and creatively respond to existing challenges faced in and around major urban areas. Too often, existing design criteria are inflexibly applied to urban contexts, resulting in thoroughfares inappropriate to their urban settings.

What's next?

Please note that this is a draft manual. We urge CNU members to read the manual and respond with comments by December 31, 2006; email comments to ltierney {at} ite {.} org. To see other CNU members' comments and to post your own, please visit our special wiki site for comments.

After it goes through the balloting and comment process, this report will likely become a recommended Practice for Context Sensitive Design for Major Urban Thoroughfares, published by ITE. This will be a design guide suitable for adoption into state DOT and local public works/engineering design manuals, and added to the FHWA resource library.

For further information, please see the fact sheets available at ITE's Context Sensitive Solutions website or for some historical background, see our Streets Initiative Page.