Research Papers

Small Town Approach to Complete Streets Program

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Policy and Practice, Session 3A
Author/Auteur Mark Young
Stream/Volet Policy and Practice

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

3A Young_Small Town Approach to Complete Streets Program



More publicity and emphasis is generally placed on the programs occurring in large cities that promote infrastructure improvements to create facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians. However, smaller towns and municipalities are undertaking projects of the same nature to improve the quality of living for their residents as well. Unfortunately, they often don’t get the attention and credit they deserve. Furthermore, these smaller towns and municipalities often have to employ unique or innovative methods and funding to see these projects to fruition. I wish to present our approach at the City of Morganton, North Carolina in developing and implementing infrastructure improvements to accomplish the goals set out by the State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Department of Transportation with their Complete Streets Program. The goals of the Complete Streets Program share their ideals with the theme of this conference – Safer Roads; Healthier Communities.


The Complete Streets policy was adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation in July 2009, with the Program and Process subsequently developed. However, even prior to the implementation of the Complete Streets Program, the City of Morganton had begun making infrastructure improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians as early as 2007 responding to the shift from a town largely dependent on the textile and furniture-manufacturing industries to a retirement and outdoor leisure / recreation center drawing on the local natural resources – striving to live up to its new branding as “Nature’s Playground”. Employing road diets and incorporating improvements in annual roadway resurfacing and maintenance projects, bike lanes, greenway extensions, pedestrian refuge islands, and upgraded crosswalks were achieved. Numerous funding sources were tapped with assistance from the local NCDOT district as well as the local council of governments, WPCOG. In addition, through the cooperation and collaboration with the local NCDOT district, the City has gained additional bike lane miles from restriping and remarking state roads within the municipal jurisdiction as part of the annual resurfacing of streets and roads by the NCDOT. The City has benefitted as well from its ability to provide input in the design of the recent interstate interchange projects that have been constructed at two of the exits serving the City.


As a result of our efforts the City has built a substantial network of greenway, bike lanes and pedestrian facilities for its residents, visitors and tourists. Our results have been featured in the Complete Streets Program manual and elements of our improvements have been highlighted in the NCDOT presentation of the program statewide. The City has given its residents, visitors and tourists opportunities for a healthier lifestyle and has lived up to the commitment set forth in the goals of the Complete Streets Program.



While significant gains have been made to the City’s network of sidewalks, greenway and bike lanes, the City would like to continue to explore other methods and funding sources to continue to add infrastructure enhancements to benefit its residents, visitors, and tourists. Taking lessons from other smaller towns and downsizing programs from big cities to our scale may provide the City other avenues to pursue continued development of our existing network and enrich the opportunities for lifestyle improvements for our citizens and visitors to our town.

Mark Young