State of the City (Part 5): Improving Mobility

This is the fifth of a six-part series by City Manager David Neeley based on his 2011 State of the City Report.

A Safe, Efficient and Well-Connected Transportation System

The continued growth in population we have experienced in the last 10 years has placed immense pressure on our roadways. As a result, we have begun to take an aggressive approach to creating a multi-modal transportation infrastructure that can handle increased vehicular traffic while promoting alternative methods of transportation through land use plans that promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities.  One of the most notable examples of this has been the University Drive Pedestrian Safety Improvement project undertaken by the city, TxDOT and the Northgate District Association. The project, which is already underway, will construct sidewalks and bike lanes, and create loading zones and a new pedestrian mall to improve the overall experience in one of the city’s most historic locations.  Additional projects completed or underway include:

  • The FM 2818 and Campus Village multi-use path, which will complete the existing path that runs from Texas Avenue to Welsh by extending it through the Campus Village development to Southwest Parkway.
  • The completion of Hike & Bike Trail Phase I and the extension of the Bike Loop Project through the arboretum.
  • The completion of the Victoria Avenue Extension, which includes bike lanes and sidewalks in advance of the soon-to-be-opened College Station High School.
  • The completion of the Royder Road and Greens Prairie Trail Reconstruction to accommodate the new Greens Prairie Trail Elementary School, which opened in August.
  • The completion of the Holleman Drive Extension, which provides a signalized connection from Jones Butler Road to FM 2818.

Leveraging State, Federal Funding

Growth in the southern portion of the city has placed an enormous strain on capacity at the intersection of State Highway 6 and Rock Prairie Road. For several years, the city has been planning to improve efficiency and congestion by expanding capacity.  In 2011, the city was successful in working with the Bryan-College Station MPO and TxDOT in securing nearly $5 million in funds to upgrade the Rock Prairie Road Bridge and intersection. Additionally, CDBG grant allocations will provide funding for the construction of the Cooner Street Rehabilitation Project and the design for new sidewalks on University Drive and FM 2154, all of which will start in 2012. 

Maintaining, Rehabilitating Transportation Facilities

The best way to ensure our infrastructure remains up to the task is by investing in its ongoing maintenance and repair when necessary. In 2011, Public Works instituted a pilot project to evaluate an alternative to the traditional chip seal method when overlaying certain roadways. They began a microsurfacing method that provides all the benefits of chip sealing while reducing the amount of loose aggregate, which creates issues for drivers and residents. About 85,000 square yards of asphalt streets were microsurfaced to extend the life of the pavement. Additionally, the city contracted with a consultant to update our pavement assessment program, provide visual inspection of the city’s pavement network and create a methodology to allow staff to strategically plan for future maintenance, rehabilitation and reconstruction. 

Planning for the Future

Given the challenges associated with infrastructure funding, the city is working with a transportation consultant to optimize future transportation planning. The exercise uses a travel demand model to maximize the impact of transportation funding.  More specifically, the consultant has been tasked with modeling our network to 2035, assuming no capacity improvements, to determine the locations of highest congestion. This information will be used to develop further scenarios that target congested areas and help the city prioritize future transportation investments. 

Tomorrow’s final blog will examine what’s been accomplished under the Sustainable City initiative and will also outline some of the major challenges we expect to face in 2012. Previous posts in the series:

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