Friday, February 7, 2014

First "Complete Street" created in the City of Wells!

Before the street renovation

The Wells Active Living Coalition (WALC) has been a grateful recipient of mini-grants in SHIP 1, 2 and now 3.  The work that was begun with an MDH Walkability Workshop in December of 2009 laid the groundwork that recently became visible in the first “complete street” in the City of Wells.

When WALC learned that the county was reconstructing a main access street in Wells the team went to work to learn what they could do to insure the street was safer, more accessible and easier to use for everyone, a complete street. 

The WALC team took pictures of the existing sidewalks, which zig zagged from side to side and were nonexistent at places and presented their vision for a better way to the Wells City Council.  Working with the county engineer, and the city engineer, the City determined that this was indeed a possibility and a worthwhile investment for the City to make. 

Before the street renovation
The effect on safety showed immediate results when the new street was opened to the community this Fall.  Young parents who were pushing strollers down the street, or even on Hwy 109 just a block over, were now able to cover the entire 3 blocks with the uninterrupted and accessible sidewalk located on the North side of the street.  Away from a processing plant with potentially high truck traffic and off of the highway the new street affords safe access for all modes of transportation.  What was once a hodgepodge of interrupted and unsafe sidewalks on a busy connecting road is now a safe and attractive model for city planning and future reconstruction and sidewalk projects?  

After completion of the renovation project
The next step?  The partnerships that were formed to realize this project included individuals from the community, United South Central Schools, City government, county commissioners, Region 9 Development Commission, Bolton and Menk Engineering and MnDOT. Those partners have continued to work together with the Safe Routes to School committee and Sidewalk/Trails committee formed at the first workshop. These committees have a vision of connecting important destinations in the community with safe streets and trails including the new school site opening in the Fall of 2014.  A Sidewalk/Trail Plan has been developed and will be presented to the City Council, along with a request for policy to be put in place to insure future development will provide safe access about the community.

In the future it is hoped that Wells will be a healthier community that encourages a healthy lifestyle for all.  The impact of planning now will provide long term benefits.  


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