Local Officials Rush to Learn About New Alternatives to Arterials

Colorado Cities May Be Among First to Try Out Powerful Designs for Transforming Anonymous Major Streets into Value-Adding Public Spaces

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There's no shortage of plans to build long-term value and character in Colorado cities and towns by emphasizing walkable, neighborhood-based development; but until now, these communities had few options for their major streets besides wide, high-speed arterials that intimidate pedestrians and stifle streetlife.

A powerful new road design manual created by leading urban planners and transportation engineers changes that. And leaders from around Colorado will be some of the first in the country to learn how to put this new resource to work, thanks to a workshop hosted by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) on Thursday, Nov. 16 in Boulder, Colo.

CNU recognizes that good streets serve multiple purposes to enhance and add value to communities. Beyond their most basic function of allowing people to move about freely, they are also public spaces - streets need to get people to where they're going, but they should never damage a destination in the process. Streets should fit within a community's context, rather than forcing a community to build in a way that suits a street. Done correctly, a street may become a destination itself.

At a special workshop this Thursday hosted by the City of Boulder, the kickoff event for a four-day CNU transportation summit, officials and planners from communities ranging from Fort Collins through Grand Junction (and Flagstaff, AZ and Ventura, CA) will learn how to apply this approach to their towns from top experts, a number of whom contributed to the creation of the new manual.

Funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the new street design manual is a joint venture of the CNU and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), one of the most influential transportation design organizations in the country. It represents the first time a civil engineering stalwart like the ITE has developed and promoted alternatives to the broad, high-volume arterials found in the influential "Green Book" published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which provides the models and standards for most of the road construction in the United States.

The manual has been attracting intense interest from local officials and planners. A similar workshop in Chicago in September even attracted a delegation from Texas that included Leander, Texas, Mayor John Cowman who said he looked forward to making his city "a test case in Texas to see how transitioning a rural highway into this type of boulevard might create new potential."

The Congress for the New Urbanism is the leading organization applying the principles of city and town design to today's development challenges. Working with architects, planners, and transportation engineers, CNU advances walkable, compact neighborhood development as an alternative to sprawl.

WHAT: Context-Sensitive Solutions Workshop and CNU Transportation Summit
CNU's annual transportation summit will kick off Thursday, Nov. 16, with a workshop on how to use the new ITE manual to implement street design changes. The summit continues on Friday and Saturday, bringing together leading experts in the fields of planning and transporation engineering to advance reforms in the practice of transportation planning.

WHO: 150 urban planners and transportation engineers are expected to attend the workshop and summit. Summit speakers on Friday and Saturday include Boulder Mayor Mark Ruzzin, John Norquist, President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, and leading experts in transportation planning.

WHEN/WHERE:
Context-Sensitive Solutions Workshop
Thursday, November 16, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO

CNU Transportation Summit
November 16 - 18, 2006
Hotel Boulderado, Boulder, CO, Columbine-Balsam Room

Workshop for Retrofitting 30th Street in East Boulder
Saturday, November 18, 2006, 12:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Hotel Boulderado, Boulder, CO, Columbine-Balsam Room

TO ATTEND OR LEARN MORE, CONTACT: Stephen Filmanowicz, 312.551.7300 x12, or Lee Crandell, 312.551.7300 x16 (or 773.398.8158 mobile on-site Nov. 16-18), both of Congress for the New Urbanism

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Macdonald