Posts tagged “Northgate

What’s the deal with the signal timing on University?

By Troy Rother, City Traffic Engineer

Few things are more frustrating than being stuck in seemingly endless traffic.

If you’ve driven down University Drive in Northgate in the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably faced extraordinarily long wait times. A soon as you go through a green light, the next light turns red. At times, it takes 15 or 20 minutes to travel a single mile.

Let me assure you, we share your frustration and apologize deeply for the inconvenience.

Allow me to explain what’s behind all the chaos. It won’t ease your frustration, but at least you’ll know what’s going on.

Our contractor activated the reconstructed Northgate traffic signals on Aug. 22. Regrettably, the signal contractor didn’t have his subcontractors present for the activation as the city had directed. As a result, the detection systems didn’t function properly, which caused the traffic signal to give the maximum green time for all approaches — even if a vehicle wasn’t present on that approach.

Rest assured we’re working diligently with the subcontractors to correct the problem. We’ve developed coordinated timing plans for the corridor and are installing them this week. We’re also working on camera activation, emergency vehicle recognition, and getting the signals to talk to one another.

That said, it’s essential to keep in mind that the focus of the entire project is pedestrian safety in an area bustling with thousands of students. Recent pedestrian accidents in the area – including several tragic fatalities – led the city to work with the university and the Texas Department of Transportation to make necessary changes.

The good news is that we expect to have the final timings installed the week of Sept. 9. The complex project was supposed to be finished months ago, but weather and utility conflicts created numerous delays.

When fully implemented, the signal timings will have an exclusive pedestrian-only phase for walking and cycling traffic to cross University Drive or the minor roadway at the intersection. During this time, all vehicular traffic will be stopped, including right-turning vehicles.

The pedestrian-only phase will undoubtedly create delays for motorists, but benefits include a safer situation for pedestrians and no pedestrian conflicts for vehicles attempting to turn onto University Drive. For example, we observed traffic at the Nagle intersection this week and saw 12 vehicles turning left onto University instead of the usual four because the vehicles didn’t have to wait for pedestrians to cross during motorists’ green light.

Our overriding goal will always be to operate and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system. Unfortunately, the complexities involved sometimes create frustrations and inconveniences for us all. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

 


About the Blogger

Troy Rother has been College Station’s city traffic engineer since 2003. He previously served as an engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation and in the private sector with Wilbur Smith Associates. Troy earned bachelor’s (1997) and master’s (1998) degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M.


 

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City engages new tactic to control Northgate birds

By Gus Roman, Assistant Community Services Director

At certain times and places in College Station, it’s understandable if you may think you’ve been hired as an extra in a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

 

Most of us like birds. Most birds, anyway.

The great-tailed grackles and starlings that gather around certain intersections and parking lots around town are a glaring exception.  Austin-based author James Brush even wrote a book about the Central Text pests titled “Birds Nobody Loves: A Book of Vultures and Grackles.”

Annoying motorists and supermarket shoppers is one thing, but the feathered pests have even infested Northgate. When you start messing with Aggie traditions, you’ve probably gone too far.

A biologist estimated as many as 10,000 birds roost in the trees at dusk. The massive volume of bird droppings they produce cause significant damage to city-owned property in the area and create unsanitary and unsightly conditions. It smells pretty awful, too.

Our janitorial service power washes the area every day, scrubbing benches and sidewalks to keep the place presentable and inhabitable. The daily service costs about $76,000 a year.

Unfortunately, the issue has become even more severe this year, and complaints from merchants and their patrons have intensified.

City staff has used various methods over the years to encourage the birds to leave, including trimming trees, adding lights, and using sonic repellers, decoys, and noisemakers. Each of those schemes seems to work until the clever birds catch on to the ruse.

Earlier this week, we began a different tactic that just might work.

OverWatch Bird Control is employing a variety of non-lethal methods such as lasers and drones to discourage the birds from roosting in the trees in and around the Northgate promenade. The contractor then plans to use birds of prey, or raptors, to threaten and intimidate the wild birds into roosting elsewhere.

The service costs about $6,000 and is expected to take about a week.

We hope our fine feathered friends get the message and move along peacefully, which no doubt would greatly disappoint the late Mr. Hitchcock.

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Community Services Director Gus Roman is in his fifth year with the City of College Station. He has also worked at the City of San Marcos and the City of Bryan and previously served with the City of College Station from 1995-03. A native of Nicaragua, Gus earned bachelor’s (building science 1989) and master’s (agriculture, land economics and real estate 2006) degrees from Texas A&M.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 25)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 25. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:13 p.m.

The workshop has started. The council took no action out of the executive session.

5:35 p.m.

Planning & Zoning Commission Plan of Work

The council conducted a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the commission’s 2019 plan of work, which includes items related to the Comprehensive Plan, neighborhood integrity, and the Unified Development Ordinance.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

5:39 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled these consent items for workshop discussion:

  • Drought Contingency and Water Conservation Plan: The 2014 Drought Contingency Plan update contained several revisions from the previous version adopted in 2009. The proposed plan does not make significant changes from 2014. The 2019 plan maintains year-round encouragement of voluntary water conservation, following guidance from the state.

6:04 p.m.

Thomas Park Improvements

The council discussed improvements for Thomas Park. City staff recommends completing the plan over multiple years, staying in the first year within the $1 million budgeted for FY19. Mayor Mooney suspended the discussion, which will resume after the regular meeting.

The Parks and Recreation Board recommends spending the $1 million on a covered tennis court, a dog park and two covered picnic tables on the park’s north end.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:05 p.m.

Mayor Mooney suspended the workshop, which will resume after the regular meeting. The council will take a short break.

6:13 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:20 p.m.

Groundwater Conservationist of the Year

The Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District presented Pebble Creek Country Club with its Groundwater Conservationist of the Year Award for commercial irrigation.

6:23 p.m.

National Community Development Week

The mayor proclaimed this week as National Community Development Week.

6:26 p.m.

Municipal Clerk’s Week

The mayor proclaimed May 5-11 as Municipal Clerks Week.

6:52 p.m.

Hear Visitors

?? people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Air Force Airman 1st Class Corey C. Owens as part of the Fallen Heroes Project. The 26-year-old San Antonio native died on Feb. 17, 2011, in a non-combat incident at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.
  • Eight people spoke in support of building a new pool in Thomas Park.

6:53 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • An annual blanket purchase order estimated at $180,000 with Lonestar Freightliner Group for repair parts and labor for fire trucks.
  • A $352,000 change order to the Graham Road Substation Project and a revision to the date of substantial completion from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31.
  • Renewal of an annual contract not to exceed $150,000 with All Around Tree Service for landscaping, tree trimming, and removal services.
  • A $281,998 contract with Bayer Construction Electrical Contractors for the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Barron Road and Alexandria Avenue.
  • An ordinance amending the city’s Code of Ordinances regarding secondhand dealers.
  • An ordinance amending the city’s Code of Ordinances regarding drought contingency and the Water Emergency Plan.
  • A resolution adopting the updated Water Conservation Plan as required by the state.
  • An ordinance amending the city’s Code of Ordinances to stagger appointments to boards and committees to allow the city council to make annual appointments.

7:24 p.m.

Comp Plan Committee Appointments

The council made appointments to the Comprehensive Plan Evaluation Committee, which will serve as the steering committee for the city’s 10-Year Comprehensive Plan review:

  • City Council: John Nichols, Linda Harvell, Elianor Vessali
  • Planning & Zoning Commission: Dennis Christiansen, Elizabeth Cunha, Jeremy Osborne (Alternate: Joe Guerra)
  • Citizens: Michael Buckley, Clint Cooper, Brian Bochner, Bradford Brimley, Lisa Halperin, Julie Schultz
  • Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: Shana Elliott

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:31 p.m.

Bird Pond Road Land Use

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the land use from Estate to Restricted Suburban for about 13 acres northeast of the Rock Prairie-Bird Pond intersection. The change will allow the development of a residential subdivision. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:59 p.m.

Bird Pond Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Estate to Planned Development District for the same 13 acres as in the previous item. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:08 p.m.

Northgate District Study

The council voted unanimously to approve a $188,000 contract with Waltman Group to complete a Northgate District study and mobility/operations plan. The increase in high-density residential development has created safety and mobility concerns for people walking, biking, and driving during weekdays and weekend evenings.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:16 p.m.

Lick Creek Sewer Trunk Line

The council voted unanimously to approve a $10.9 million contract with Thalle Construction for the Lick Creek Trunk Line Project. The sewer line will extend from the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant through the southern boundary of Pebble Creek Country Club and tie into an existing line north of Fitch Parkway.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:21 p.m.

Ringer Library Shelving

The council voted unanimously to approve the $460,000 million purchase of shelving for the newly renovated Ringer Library from Lone Star Furnishings. The renovation project budgeted $875,000 to furnish the building. Requests for remaining furnishings will be presented to the council at a later date.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:23 p.m.

The council discussed future agenda items. Mayor Mooney adjourned the regular meeting. The workshop will resume after a short break.

8:30 p.m.

The workshop has resumed.

9:37 p.m.

Thomas Park Discussion (continued)

The council concluded its earlier workshop discussion of improvements for Thomas Park. The consensus of the council was to not include a dog park or splash pad but to continue exploring a new swimming pool and other possible improvements as part of a broader plan. The discussion will continue as part of the FY20 budget process.

9:41 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports.

The council meets again on Monday, May 13.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science from Texas Tech.


 

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Closing Boyett on busiest nights makes Northgate safer

By Gus Roman, Assistant Director of Community Services

If you’ve ever driven through the Northgate Entertainment District on a Friday or Saturday night, you know it’s an immensely popular place for college students to get revved up for Aggie football or just unwind after a long week of classes.

You also know it can be an extraordinarily dangerous place for unwary pedestrians. With more than 60,000 students walking, driving and bicycling around campus, safety has to be the top priority for local authorities.

The city has worked closely with Texas A&M and The Texas Department of Transportation to devise and implement various safety improvements along University Drive. In 2012, Old College Main was closed at University Drive, and we added a bicycle and pedestrian crossing.

Still, with one of the nation’s most populous universities across the street, pedestrian safety remains a dominant issue – especially at the intersection of University and Boyett Street.

Despite the presence of a signalized crosswalk, many pedestrians blatantly ignore the signal and haphazardly move through the bustling traffic. Meanwhile, ride-booking services and taxis often stop in traffic lanes to serve their customers.

We may not be able to stop that reckless behavior, but we can try to reduce the risk.

That’s why starting this week, Boyett Street will be closed between University Drive and Patricia Street from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The intersection will also be closed Wednesday, Aug. 29, the night before the Aggie football opener against Northwestern State. No parking will be allowed on the sealed portion of Boyett.

The closure includes the area in front of Shiner Park, O’Bannon’s Tap House and a few other bars, along with two entrances to the corner convenience store.

Whenever Boyett is closed, the southern row of the Northgate parking lot will serve as a designated loading area for ride-booking customers. To help traffic flow, we renumbered and restriped the lot to accommodate angled spaces. Plenty of additional parking is available in the city’s Northgate Parking Garage, which has more than 700 affordable spaces.

These adjustments may be inconvenient for some, but in the end, we’ll have a safer, more pedestrian-friendly environment in Northgate.

 


About the Blogger

Gus Roman has been with the City of College Station since 2015 and has served as assistant director of community services since 2016. He’s also worked for the City of San Marcos and the City of Bryan. Gus previously served the City of College Station from 1995-2003. He has two degrees from Texas A&M – a bachelor’s in building construction (1989) and a master’s in agriculture, land economics and real estate (2006).


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Possible City Charter Amendments: The council will have a workshop discussion about proposed city charter amendments that may be placed on the ballot in the November election.
  2. Historical Marker Presentations: The Historic Preservation Committee will present historical markers to the owners of six homes.
  3. Boyett Parking Removal:  As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider the removal of parking on the west side of Boyett Street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The no parking zone would start 60 feet north of University Drive and extend another 160 feet.
  4. Northgate Passenger Loading Zone: Another consent agenda item is the creation of a passenger loading zone in the Northgate Promenade Parking Lot to help address pedestrian safety and traffic congestion issues. The loading zone would be in place from 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
  5. Fun for All Playground: The council will consider a $942,123 contract with CRT GC, Inc. for construction of a Fun for All Playground at Beachy Central Park. The all abilities facility would provide accessible and inclusive play for everyone and will be funded primarily by private donations and civic groups.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 or online. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Northgate Pedestrian Safety: The council will hear a workshop presentation on proposals for temporary measures to enhance pedestrian safety in the Northgate area, including the closing of Boyett Street at University Drive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. An ongoing comprehensive study will help determine permanent changes.
  2. Fire Station No. 7 Property: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $600,000 real estate contract to purchase about four acres on Wellborn Road for the city’s seventh fire station. The item is part of the budget amendment on the regular meeting agenda.
  3. Northgate Video Surveillance: Also on the consent agenda is a $337,000 general services agreement with ASAP Security Solutions for the first phase of a video surveillance system in the Northgate District and Northgate Parking Garage.
  4. FY18 Budget Amendment: After a public hearing, the council will consider a $4.13 million amendment to the city’s FY18 budget. Most of the amendment covers Phase II of the Veterans Park & Athletic Complex Build-Out ($1.55 million), the Fun for All Playground ($1 million), a design contract for Southeast Park ($400,000), and land for a new fire station.
  5. Rezonings on Wellborn Road: After public hearings, the council will consider requests to rezoning two properties along Wellborn Road south of Greens Prairie Road to allow for commercial development. One is for about four acres, and the other is for 4.4 acres.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 or online. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


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