Independence is on its way to becoming more complete.

Independence is on its way to becoming more complete.

Following other Kansas City area cities like Lee’s Summit, the City Council on June 6 adopted a resolution that established a complete streets policy for Independence. The Mid-America Regional Council last fall included a complete streets principle in the update of its long-range plan, Transportation Outlook 2040.

“Complete streets” is the idea that all roadway planning, design, construction and maintenance should include the consideration of the needs of those who bicycle, walk and use transit, as well as considering the ages of all residents and their physical capabilities.

“It’s a very important policy change for us,” At-Large Council Member Jim Schultz said. “… I think this is a very, very important resolution. I think it’s an important change, and I think it’s a very timely change for the city of Independence.”

Historically, transportation project design and construction has only addressed the needs of passenger vehicles and trucks, according to a city staff report. In Independence, all proposed new public or private street improvement projects will include a review and a plan on how to address all modes of transportation.

Little Blue Parkway is one example of the “complete streets” measure already taking effect in Independence. When the roadway is completed by 2012, trails will stretch from U.S. 40 to U.S. 24, linking those two highways and Interstate 70 and Missouri 78.

The complete streets policy also is a supporting measure under the Building a Healthier Independence project, which began this spring, said Larry Jones, director of the Independence Health Department. To build a healthier city, Independence staff are aiming to improve pedestrian safety by adding at least two sidewalks each year. The plan also calls for safety improvements in a minimum of six parks and trails.

“I think it puts us at the lead on getting our people around and letting them have an exercise system that is citywide,” Mayor Don Reimal said of the new policy. “I think it’s an exceptionally good program.”