College Station’s comprehensive plan update goes in front of three recommending bodies this week

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - After completing a 5-week public engagement period at the beginning of the month, the City of College Station’s 10-year comprehensive plan update, known as The Next 10, goes before three recommending bodies this week.

The Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Board and the Parks and Recreation Board will review specific chapters of the plan, while the Planning and Zoning Commission will review the update in its entirety before it’s set to go in front of city council for potential adoption on October 14.

“Each one of these boards could recommend changes to either their specific section or the comprehensive plan in its entirety,” Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm said. “Ultimately, it would be whether or not city council wants to accept those recommended changes.”

Halle-Schramm says there were a number of changes that were made to the update stemming from the public engagement period. She says the city heard from roughly 100 people who came to the three in-person meetings that were held, and about another 100 who participated in the online feedback opportunities.

“For the most part, there weren’t changes on the citywide scale,” Halle-Schramm said. “It was really looking at kind of a property here or there and making a connection or making a land-use change based on public input.”

The Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Board met Monday to make their recommendations. One of their objectives is to decrease traffic congestion in the city by expanding other modes of transportation.

College Station City Councilmember in Place 4 Elizabeth Cunha is the board’s chair.

“They have made some changes, so places where we thought we were going to do bike route, we’ve upgraded to bike share based on some of that citizen input,” Cunha said.

Cunha says bike shares provides a more designated space for bicyclists to use on roads, as opposed to simply permitting bicycle travel on certain streets. She says bike shares can be developed in the form of a 10-foot multi-use path or a separated lane designated by paint or barriers.

The comprehensive plan projects an annual growth rate of about 2.8% to bring the city’s population to roughly 162,000 by 2030. Cunha says the development of new roads alone can’t get all those people where they need to go.

“It’ going to have to be more than just roads,” Cunha said. “It’s going to have to be integrated mobilities, so bringing in the bikes and the buses and electric scooters.”

In some cases, new development will be necessary to implement these types of infrastructure, she says.

“Especially in the older parts of our city, some of our roads are too narrow to be able to accommodate a separated bike path,” Cunha said. “In those areas, it’s going back and saying, ‘Okay, can we widen the sidewalk a little bit to allow them there? Where are we going to fit?’ There needs to be accommodation for all vehicle types.”

Cunha says even the type of people who have to drive their car, supporting these options still directly benefit them.

“As we provide more ways for people to get around, then maybe five of the cars will be off the road, or 20 of the cars will be off the road, and then it’s better for everyone,” Cunha said. “Traffic congestion will be reduced by people’s behavior changes more than it’ll be reduced by additional road construction.”

The comprehensive plan update goes in front of parks and recreation Tuesday, then planning and zoning on Thursday.

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