For the second time in two years, the City of Bellingham is taking home a Governor's Smart Communities Award. Bellingham won the 2016 Smart Projects Award for communities over 10,000 population for the Alabama Street Multimodal Safety Improvements project, completed in 2015. Last year, the City received the Smart Vision Award for the Downtown Bellingham Plan.
The Smart Communities Awards, developed in 2006 and administered by the state Department of Commerce, recognize outstanding efforts of counties, cities and towns and their partners, to create quality communities through achieving the goals of the Growth Management Act and other community development objectives.
Criteria for the award included:
- Innovative solution or model for other communities;
- Demonstrates tangible benefits to the community
- Innovative, thorough and meaningful public participation;
- Achieve community's vision per the comprehensive plan; and
- Carries out goals of the state Growth Management Act.
According to Chris Comeau, Bellingham's Transportation Planner, the Alabama Street project demonstrated excellence in all criteria – but especially as a model for other communities. In fact the project's transportation planning has been featured at state and national conferences, including the American Planning Association.
“This complex project successfully implemented and wove together Bellingham's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans, the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan, several Neighborhood Plans and the Whatcom Transportation Authority's (WTA) transit plan,” said Comeau.
Comeau said the primary main goal of the Alabama Street project was to reduce the high number of vehicle collisions with a road diet, center turn lane and a center curb median. Other key goals achieved: maintaining on-time performance for WTA busses; consolidating and relocating bus stops to be near pedestrian-activated crossing signals; reconnecting the neighborhoods previously split by Alabama Street; upgrades of sidewalks, driveways and curb ramps; and street resurfacing.
# # #
*Commerce is the state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.