‘Complete Streets’? Quiet but steady push by Cobb government will be fiasco for drivers
by Larry Savage
August 24, 2013 08:59 PM | 2696 views | 5 5 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fiasco: (noun) 1. a thing that is a complete failure, esp. in a ludicrous or humiliating way.

— (Online Dictionary)

THE TERM “COMPLETE STREETS” is now in favor in the world of urban planners. It would be more appropriate to apply the term “Complete Fiasco” for the impact it will have on Cobb County taxpayers and drivers.

For fans of Complete Streets, a street is not considered complete until it includes features to accommodate all users, not just drivers in cars. This includes bicyclists, pedestrians, public transportation, the elderly and the disabled.

Local folks should be especially interested to know that the Complete Streets concept has fallen into the warm embrace of the Cobb County government, almost to the point of obsession. This is where the term “fiasco” comes into play.

Taxpayers and drivers should be alert to the rise and implementation of Complete Streets as you will be impacted in a negative way. Traffic flow will be compromised and your tax money will make it happen.

The following is a very brief summary of the evolution and status of Complete Streets in Cobb County:


• JANUARY 2009, Board of Commissioners Meeting (Copied from the Minutes): Motion by Olens, second by Ott, to adopt a policy regarding the Complete Streets concept, for improved safety and accessibility to Cobb County’s transportation system for all citizens. Copy of Complete Streets Policy attached and made a part of these minutes.

VOTE: ADOPTED unanimously (Olens, Ott, Lee, Goreham, W. Thompson)

Almost three years pass with no further mention of Complete Streets. Then …

• April 15, 2011, Johnson Ferry Corridor Urban Design: Complete Streets is included by reference in the Implementation Plan for the Johnson Ferry Road Urban Design project.

• Nov. 22, 2011, Work Session: Cobb DOT Director Faye DiMassimo and Community Development Director Rob Hosack make a joint presentation to commissioners regarding their intent to create a joint work team to develop an implementation plan for Cobb’s Complete Streets policy. DiMassimo says that implementation of Complete Streets will 1) bring Cobb into compliance with national standards, 2) not increase costs, 3) improve road safety. She is wrong on all three counts.

• Sept. 21, 2012, Revision Date, GDOT Design Manual. GDOT adds Complete Streets Design Policy to its Design Policy Manual. However, GDOT uses the Complete Streets title but drafts an original policy.

• January 2013, Comprehensive Plan Revisions: Complete Streets becomes part of the Cobb County Comprehensive Plan.

• August 2013, Cobb Contracts with Arcadis for Comprehensive Transportation Plan: Complete Streets is already baked into the new Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

• Peach Roads Program: Program awards points for use of Complete Streets principles.


CLEARLY, COMPLETE STREETS is highly regarded by Cobb government. So, what is Complete Streets and why is it so popular?

Complete Streets is a policy for governments to use in altering transportation infrastructure. It mandates a collection of design features that are to be included in road projects as standard. These features are directed primarily at adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities to all roads and streets at the discretion of DOT managers, not elected officials.

The Complete Streets policy is a product of the Complete Streets Coalition. This is a classic special interest group. Their purpose is to establish mandates in governments to build facilities for their use with taxpayer funding. The “coalition” is an assortment of bicycle groups with assistance from friendly lawmakers.



Examples of Complete Streets features include bike lanes, sidewalks, “road diets” (i.e., reducing four lanes to three, or lane width from 12 feet to 11 feet), restricting right turns on red lights, frequent crossing points in streets, crossing islands, curb ramps, curb extensions, and on and on.

Complete Streets comes to Cobb from the ARC as part of its Atlanta Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Walkways Plan, addressing the infrastructure and policy needs for the 13-county region. The ARC assumes that Cobb County cannot be trusted to make these decisions without guidance.


FOLLOWING THE COMPLETE STREETS PLAN will consume large amounts of public money that would otherwise go toward legitimate transportation investments. Traffic congestion will increase as bike riders interrupt normal traffic movement and as traffic rules are revised to favor bicycle operators. And, people will die. Collisions between cars that are minor fender benders will be fatal for bike riders. Drivers of cars will find their lives ruined by these accidents.

But, there is a hitch in the program. Read the actual text of the document Commissioners approved in 2009: “Cobb County will implement the Complete Streets concept by considering safe access for all users ...” The word “considering” does not make a policy. Someone played word games.

Nevertheless, Cobb DOT marches ahead, missing no opportunity to embed this flawed and unnecessary concept into policy documents.

But, the “adopted policy” isn’t really a policy at all. If Cobb leaders want Complete Streets to be official policy in Cobb County, the Commissioners should step up to their responsibilities and vote for a clear and unambiguous policy statement.

Taxpayers and drivers should hope they scrap the entire concept and send Complete Streets back to its sponsors at ARC.

Larry Savage of east Cobb is a retired business executive and ran unsuccessfully for commission chairman in 2012 and 2010.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 28, 2013
Agenda 21 is all over this in East Cobb, we the people need to stop this!
SW Gal
August 27, 2013
The complete streets program takes decisions from the voters. It is a program that emphasizes expensive projects that we cannot afford during these difficult economic times. We cannot afford to keep our roads in good repair, but we can afford to replace perfectly good sidewalks with wider sidewalks and destroy beautiful tree-lined roads to install road diets and roundabouts where none were needed and design roads which are narrower to purposely SLOW traffic on main arteries? The insanity! Our elected officials report to the Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Regional Commission and are doing all they can to pay their buddies who are developers and cement contractors who contributed to their campaigns. Thank you, Mr. Savage for daring to put the truth out there for all to see.
JR in Mableton
August 26, 2013
This was one of the most illogical editorials that I have ever read. So, if I read Mr. Savage correctly, it is a bad idea to enable people to walk or ride their bikes. Furthermore, it is a "fiasco" to think about providing transportation solutions for an aging population. I especially like the flippant use of the right-wing buzz words like "special interest." What?!? No mention of Agenda 21.

I would love to ride my bicycle to work. I would love to be able to walk more places. I would love for my aging parents to be able to live in Cobb and to move around freely without getting in a car. I would love to live in a community where people like Mr. Savage mind their own business and stop trying to create issues to make himself feel like a patriot or some sort of national hero. You are going to find that there a lot more people who agree with me......you just wait.

The bottom line of this editorial is that Mr. Savage supports Incomplete Streets and the economic decline of Cobb County. He thinks everyone should be forced to drive a car and spend 20% of their income on transportation, even when the consumer does not want this. He must have a vested interested in the wasteful consumption of gasoline.....can you answer why users of automobiles don't pay for the cost of the road infrastructure?

Shame on the MDJ for continuing to print this nonsense.
Guido Sarducci
August 27, 2013
Very good, JR. Now go see Timmy Lee or Bobby Ott and collect your pay for writing this tripe.
August 25, 2013
The roads designed to handle bikes appropriately, the horror

There are many reasons why you lost. Late to the game and antiquated thinking are among them.
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