Complete Streets Demonstration Project | Morgan Hill, CA

Type: Tactical Urbanism Demonstration Project

Size: 2 blocks

Status: Complete

Monterey Road runs through the heart of downtown Morgan Hill, CA and features four lanes of vehicle traffic, two in each direction, with left turn lanes at each intersection. In response to the community‚Äôs request for a safer and more vibrant downtown, the City of Morgan Hill initiated a Complete Streets planning process with the goal of making Monterey Road a more inviting place to walk, bike, shop, and dine. The planning process occurred throughout 2014 and culminated in two preferred alternatives for the community to consider. 

Street Plans was then brought in by Alta Planning + Design, Harris Associates, the City of Morgan Hill, and the Morgan Hill Downtown Association to produce a weekend-long Tactical Urbanism demonstration project that illustrated the two alternatives – one on each side of the street. The goal of the demonstration project was to increase public understanding of both alternatives, and to gather data and feedback from a broad base of downtown stakeholders. 

Street Plans led the two-day build out, which involved dozens of volunteers who helped transform one vehicular lane into a buffered bicycle lane using traffic tape (Alternative 1). On the other side of the street, temporary materials (such as Astroturf and borrowed wine barrels) were used to simulate a sidewalk widening (Alternative 2). 

The use of temporary, low-cost, and borrowed materials allowed the team to build social capital while also implementing the project very quickly. Once the demonstration project was installed, Street Plans led a series of public engagement activities over the weekend to gather feedback. 

Within one month of concluding the two-day demonstration project, the Morgan Hill City Council authorized a six-month pilot project to further vet the preferred alternative (the buffered bicycle lane option). This secondary pilot phase, which took place from February to August 2015, allowed the City to measure traffic, bicycling, walking, and retail sales impacts, educate its citizenry, work out design flaws, and solicit ongoing input from the general public before deciding whether or not to commit to long-term change.