Swanzey adopts ‘Complete Streets’ policy

Fourth New Hampshire community to implement new approach to street renovations


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The town of Swanzey is the latest New Hampshire community to adopt a “Complete Streets” policy — a guide for developers, town planners and the public works department to follow when planning street renovations, changes and improvements.

Swanzey joins Concord, Dover and Portsmouth in adopting the policy. Keene passed a resolution to adopt a Complete Streets policy in 2011 and is currently in the process of adopting a policy that was introduced earlier this fall.

Swanzey’s Complete Streets policy is nonbinding, but must be considered with any road construction, said Sara Carbonneau, the town’s director of planning and community development.

“The goal of our Complete Streets policy is to provide a safe place for people to enjoy our community,” says Carbonneau. “Roads are more than pieces of pavement for cars to travel on.”

The hope, Carbonneau said, is that the policy gives priority to all users of the roadway, not just motorized vehicles.

She said each “complete street” will look different depending on where it is and what the street is used for, but they often include pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly amenities, including sidewalks, shared lane bicycle markings, paved shoulders, crosswalks, bike racks, landscaping and street furniture, such as benches.

“Swanzey has a short Main Street … and it doesn’t have a downtown like Keene or Marlborough or Troy, so it is a different process to come up with a policy for a more rural area. But we do have a wonderful sidewalk system,” said Carbonneau.

Complete Streets is a nationwide movement launched by the National Complete Streets Coalition and is recommended by the NH Planners Association, which has been advocating that the NH Department of Transportation adopt a Complete Streets policy.

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