Surprisingly, not many have. Prior to WWII, most towns catered towards the downtown areas. However, with the rise of the automobile and the suburban boom following the war, most towns designed transportation routes that catered towards vehicles rather than traditional pedestrian traffic.
In 1971, Oregon made a bold move to get away from this. The state began encouraging something similar to the Complete Streets” concept.
So what is Complete Streets and how would it affect Poteau, Wister, and Heavener?
First, it’s pedestrian friendly. Every major and arterial road has a landscaped sidewalk. The landscaping not only serves to provide greenspaces (remember that topic?) but also helps with pedestrian safety, walkability scores, and property values.
As an example, take Broadway in Poteau. To make this more pedestrian friendly, link the sidewalks with CASC to the south and Walmart to the north. CASC could be linked to downtown via the old Frisco railroad, then from there, cross Broadway to connect with the existing sidewalk. Use the medians between Broadway and the sidewalk for landscaping; plant plants about 2″ high – low enough not to impair visibility but high enough to create a barrier between the road and the sidewalk. At each crossing, those would be defined further by using painted cross walks and stop bars.
Next, it’s bike friendly. Poteau has bike routes, but they can be defined better. In some areas, towns designate bike routes with blue lines along the sides of the road. While expensive, if people pulled together, it could easily be doable. Additionally, the existing sidewalk along Broadway could be widened by a foot to handle bike traffic. This would create a straight shot to most businesses along Broadway and downtown.
Third, it calms traffic. Landscaping does wonders to do this. There’s many times that people are found to be going 55 in a 35; this can be reduced by decreasing lane width, landscaping, appropriate traffic lights and crossings, and so on.
Finally, it accommodates public transit. There’s really not a system in place regionally, however, the Kats buses provide good public transportation. If the towns are made walkable/bikable (including areas such as the old Wister highway), public transportation becomes more viable.