Fact check: Bryan ISD and City of Bryan statements on transportation facility

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The City of Bryan Planning and Zoning Commission has denied requests from Bryan ISD regarding their plans for a new transportation and maintenance facility.

Both entities put out statements Wednesday, defending their side of the issue.

BISD hopes to build on a plot of land previously owned by Blinn College located at the southwest corner of N. Harvey Mitchell Parkway and Leonard Road. It will be named the Ruby Haliburton Auxiliary Complex. The district says the complex will house more than transportation staff and buses, with food services, custodial, records management, and a warehouse included.

The City of Bryan says the piece of property that BISD purchased is located in a growing area. BISD proposals show the building plans on the front half of the purchased property, leaving almost 50 acres in the back unused. The city says having half of the property unused would be a loss.

While BISD brought proposals to the Planning and Zoning Commission starting in August, saying they were blindsided by denials, the City of Bryan says they began suggesting the use of the back of the property before BISD even made the purchase. City staff says the first mention came in late November 2021. This information was unable to be verified, and a records request has been submitted to the City of Bryan.

BISD says they purchased this property that was intended for higher education use, meaning it wasn’t on the tax rolls before the purchase. They claimed Blinn College owned the land for almost 10 years. Property records show Blinn owned the property for only seven years, but also show it was still tax-exempt before that for agricultural use. The city said they looked into Blinn’s plans for the almost 100-acre property Thursday that utilized the whole area. The city said they would like to see the spot used for retail or commercial use. They have said an option would be putting the BISD building on the back half of the property, leaving room for retail and commercial space along major roadways. But, BISD has brought up issues to P&Z of that area being located on a flood plain and a major transmission line. One of the main reasons BISD was looking for a new transportation facility location is because the current one experiences floods.

The next issue between entities is the impact a facility would have on local traffic. According to BISD, this facility including employees, maintenance, and bus vehicles would only cause a 2% increase in local traffic. A traffic study conducted and approved by TxDOT shows the facility would have a “minimal” impact on local traffic as long as there is a turn lane added near FM-1688 to enter the complex. After reviewing the study, it is unclear where the district found a 2% figure.

One big concern from the city is that the increased traffic would be large school buses, rather than typical traffic. But according to TxDOT, buses were a large part of that traffic study. The city called the impact “detrimental” while the TxDOT refuted that.

Bryan ISD will be taking its proposal to Bryan City Council on October 11. Their hope is that this project will pass once in front of the council. If it doesn’t, BISD says they’re determined to find a way forward.