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Home Commentary Open forum Open forum: AARP Leads Efforts on Bill to Adapt Complete Streets Policy

Open forum: AARP Leads Efforts on Bill to Adapt Complete Streets Policy

AARP in The Virgin Islands has led the efforts for the passage of Complete Streets Legislation. On Friday, Oct. 2, during the 33rd Legislatures’ Committee on Housing Transportation, Infrastructure & Telecommunications hearing, Bill No. 33-0041 and Amendment 33-681, which establish the Complete Streets Policy in the construction and repairs designs of roadways within the territory, received a favorable response with all committee members voting in favor of the bill. The bill now heads to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary.

AARP thanks the bill’s sponsors: senators Steven Payne and Oakland Benta. It also thanks Senator Marvin A. Blyden, chair of the committee, and committee members: senators Alicia Barnes, Allison DeGazon, Donna Frett-Gregory, Stedman Hodge Jr., Myron B. Jackson and Javan James.

Complete Streets improves the livability of a community, easing transportation concerns for residents while improving public safety, health and the environment. Bill No. 33-0041 encourages community engagement in the planning, designing, and implementation of street projects with the assistance of a multi-functional task force. This coalition of community partners and key government agencies will provide the first phase assessment and plans for implementation.

Furthermore, the coalition will provide a platform for ensuring that the lead planning agency, the V.I. Department of Public Works, follows the guidelines set forth in the policy in planning for all modes of transportation.

The population in the Virgin Islands is aging at a rapid pace. Research indicates that the population of Virgin Islanders over the age of 50 will increase from 41.4 percent of the population to 44.1 percent by 2030. The percentage of Virgin Islanders over 60 will increase from 27.6 percent to 32.9 percent of the territory’s population.

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The designs of the streets in the territory continue to make mobility difficult for its residents. It is difficult for non-drivers of all ages and abilities to navigate many areas within the community. Also, many lack accessible thoroughfares that connect residents to common areas like government services, shops and offices, making it difficult to navigate due to broken streets and sidewalks, sidewalks blocked by signs, and posts.

The focus of the Complete Streets Policy will allow the Department of Public Works to change policies and procedures to ensure that accommodations for multi-mode of travel are incorporated into project development.

Complete Streets Policies offers an opportunity to improve the travel options for all users.  It encourages safer streets through policy adoption at the state/territorial and regional levels —mirroring an approach already at work in more than 600 jurisdictions, including regional and local bodies, 28 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

With the passage of this bill, Virgin Islanders from 8 to 80 can be safe and their lives will be improved. Traveling throughout the territory, whether by vehicle, walking, bicycling or in a wheelchair, will be possible for all residents and visitors. Everyone will enjoy a more livable community.

AARP in The Virgin Islands is continuing to advocate for AARP members and Virgin Islanders for passage of this bill.  To learn more and obtain updates, visit www.aarp.org/vi or AARP Virgin Islands on Facebook or Facebook.com/aarpvi.

AARP in the Virgin Islands

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