Camden: Putting Complete Streets to Work

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending a complete streets workshop hosted by the City of Camden and Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County. This was no ordinary complete streets workshop, however; this session was about complete streets policy implementation. Last July, the City adopted a complete streets resolution, stating that the community is dedicated to bicycling and walking; and last Wednesday’s workshop was an outcome of this policy, to gather the necessary stakeholders, and to put the policy to work.

The challenge with complete streets is that many communities stop at policy adoption. Although these communities are well-intentioned, and they go as far as making their vision formal in a policy, and if that policy is a resolution, there is nothing holding them accountable to that vision. However, the dedicated team in Camden is determined to making their vision a reality.

The workshop was facilitated by transportation experts John LaPlante and Carol Kachadoorian. Those in attendance varied in backgrounds ranging from engineering, to public health, to banking. Mayor Jeffrey Graham participated in the session, along with City Manager Kevin Bronson and several members of city and county council. Because of the varying backgrounds and level of expertise represented, the session began with basic groundwork of complete streets (benefits, what they are not, what they look like), and work groups were quickly formed to dive into the work of implementation and developing an action plan (changing zoning code, comprehensive plans, etc. in order to make complete streets a reality).

Workshop facilitators in historic Camden

Camden’s commitment to complete streets is not new. In 2010, the City applied for and received the very competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Federal grant to put their main street on a road diet (a reduction of the number of travel lanes on a street, essentially putting the road on a “diet”). With this impressive effort, the City intends to make Broad Street a complete street; and with their policy implementation efforts, they will be developing many more corridors within the community to accommodate the needs of all road users.

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