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Draft CNU-ITE Manual Guides Street Design

At the National Planning Conference in San Antonio, an announcement was made to planners about a real street design manual tailored for new urbanists."Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities" addresses the challenges that new urbanists face in creating streets that match the urban built environment. The 255-page manual can be purchased from the Congress for the New Urbanism, http://www.cnu.org/ or can be downloaded directly from ITE, http://ite.org/bookstore/RP036.pdf.

This guide is being released as a proposed recommended practice for planners, engineers and others who design major urban thoroughfares. It gives planners and designers with guidance for interpreting existing American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)"Green Book" policy.

The manual is a joint effort between the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Congress for the New Urbanism, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

What's inside?

The manual includes sections on both planning process and design parameters.It provides guidance on design parameters, network and corridor planning, and example thoroughfare designs. The manual focuses on major road facilities (those that function as arterials and collectors) within the context of urban development (as defined by development intensity and mixed land uses), and on design features that combine to make walking, transit, and bicycling efficient and attractive transportation choices. According to New Urban News, the manual "offers substantially new thinking on street networks," including a focus on smaller blocks, tighter curb radiuses, and new attention to the roadside environment (including adjacent buildings and the urban fabric).

New Urbanists will find some familiar concepts, since the guide introduces a design framework based on the transect. This "context zone" framework categorizes urban areas into discrete ranges of density and intensity of development, and sets forth an array of thoroughfare types consistent with each range's characteristics.

Why do we need this manual?

This manual's guidance addresses the range of thoroughfares from collectors through major arterials (except limited access highways) in both established urban areas and newly urbanizing places. These guidelines will build upon the flexibility of AASHTO and other design criteria, to generate design application guidelines for all major thoroughfare types. The manual gives designers tools to flexibly and creatively respond to existing challenges faced in and around major urban areas. Too often, existing design criteria are inflexibly applied to urban contexts, resulting in thoroughfares inappropriate to their urban settings.

Please comment!

Please note that this is a draft manual. We urge NUD members to read the manual and respond with comments by December 31, 2006; e-mail comments to ltierney@ite.org. After it goes through the balloting and comment process, this report will likely become a recommended Practice for Context Sensitive Design for Major Urban Thoroughfares, published by ITE. This will be a design guide suitable for adoption into state DOT and local public works/engineering design manuals, and added to the FHWA resource library.