State Complete Streets Policy

Of the 35 states and more than 1,600 communities to pass complete streets policies, Wisconsin remains the only state to repeal its policy.

In 2009, Wisconsin became the 19th state in the country to adopt a statewide Complete Streets Policy when Chapter Trans 75 was added to the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Trans 75 required communities to include facilities for bicycling and walking on roadway construction projects if the project was funded in whole or in part with state or federal money. In July of 2015, Chapter Trans 75 was removed from the state registry, making Wisconsin the first state to repeal its complete streets law.

Graphic of US showing states with Complete Streets Policies
States with Complete Streets policies.

Why Did Wisconsin Repeal Its Complete Streets Policy?

There were three primary objections to the state complete streets policy that led to the repeal:

  1. Claims it added bureaucracy: But adding sidewalks or bike lanes early in the engineering stage of roadway design is simple and something that was done on a regular basis even before Trans 75. 
  2. Need to align state and federal policies: Although there is no specific Federal policy called Complete Streets, several Federal laws and FHWA regulations support the concept of complete streets. United States Code, Title 23, Chapter 2, Section 217 (23 USC 217), mandates that “bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities, except where bicycle and pedestrian use are not permitted.” 
  3. Claims it added costs: Chapter Trans 75 included the exception that bikeways and sidewalks are not required on any highway on which the cost of establishing bikeways or sidewalks would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use of the bikeways or sidewalks.

Although Complete Streets was repealed at the state level, communities across Wisconsin have continued to adopt local policies. There are now 17 Wisconsin communities or regions that have adopted their own Complete Streets policy, seven of which were adopted after the 2015 state repeal. The City of Milwaukee policy, adopted in October of 2018, was recognized by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition as one of the best in the nation.  

Ask: Restore Chapter Trans 75 “Complete Streets Policy” to the Wisconsin Administrative Code.