Action: The Complete Streets Act of 2009 (H.R. 1443) One-Page Summary


The Complete Streets Act of 2009 (H.R. 1443) ensures that future transportation investments made by State departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) create appropriate and safe transportation facilities for all those using the nation’s roads—motorists, transit vehicles and riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Policy Requirement: H.R. 1443 requires States and MPOs to adopt complete streets policies for federally-funded projects within two years. These complete streets policies must ensure that the needs of all users of the transportation system are taken into account during the design, planning, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, maintenance, and operating phases of transportation project implementation.

Exemption Procedures: H.R. 1443 also gives State, regional, and local jurisdictions flexibility to exempt projects from compliance with complete streets policies. Projects may be exempted from complying with complete streets principles if users are prohibited by law from using a given right-of-way (such as in the case of freeways), if the cost of implementing complete streets principles would be prohibitive, or if the existing and planned population and employment densities around a given roadway are low enough that there is a clear lack of need for complete streets.

Enforcement: H.R. 1443 enforces this complete streets policy requirement by restricting a progressively higher amount of non-compliant states’ highway dollars to safety uses. In the first year of non-compliance, 1 percent of Surface Transportation Program funds are restricted, 2 percent in the second year, and 3 percent in the third and subsequent years. States do not lose transportation dollars under this arrangement—their existing allotment of funds is simply shifted.


Complete street policies help make streets safe for everyone, including children, disabled and older people, and public transportation patrons. They are critical for ensuring that roads are designed and updated to allow all users of a given right-of-way to travel safely and conveniently. Complete streets help ensure that all users are safe, that scarce transportation dollars are spent wisely, and that Americans have transportation choices.

More than 50 jurisdictions across the country have adopted complete streets policies that direct transportation planners to consider the needs of all users when considering and making transportation investment decisions.


H.R. 1443 is supported by the following organizations (this is a partial list of supportive groups):

AARP; Healthcare Leadership Council; American Planning Association; Prevention Institute; Partnership for Prevention; Transportation for America; Trust for America’s Health; America Bikes; Paralyzed Veterans of America; American Council of the Blind; American Institute of Architects; American Public Health Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Safe Routes to School National Partnership; U.S. Conference of Mayors; National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity.

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by B' Spokes

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