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Paid for by the College Station Association of Neighborhoods PAC

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Traffic

Those who have lived in larger cities know there are few things more damaging to our quality of life than the time we spend each day sitting in traffic. It’s not simply the additional time on the road. Intense traffic, long waits at stop lights and uncertainty in commuting times, all work to diminish our sense of well being. In short, traffic hurts the quality of our lives.

 

There are many reasons why College Station is a great city to live in. While growth is inevitable, it must be managed to avoid sacrificing the quality of life that brought us here in the first place. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates College Station now has the fourth busiest downtown area in Texas, with over 70,000 people commuting to the campus each day. The current population of 119,000 is also certain to continue to grow and some increase in traffic is likely in all parts of the city. While the volume of traffic will increase, the question is whether it will be allowed to become concentrated in ways that damage our community.

 

To ensure that traffic does not diminish our quality of life, we believe that:

 

  • Additional General Commercial zoning should only be approved after considering the overall density of traffic in the area, particularly in the central area of the city.

  • A particular concern is that the city’s rules for evaluating zoning changes rarely trigger a traffic assessment at all. If specific arbitrary thresholds are not met, city staff is not even allowed to request a traffic analysis, even when common sense tells you there will be significant impact on safety and the quality of life in the neighborhood.

  • A traffic analysis should be required prior to approval of any Planned Development District (PDD) or large General Commercial (GC) rezoning. When seeking these zoning changes investors specify a specific business and the trigger for a traffic assessment is based on that use. But once the zoning is changed, the investor immediately has a legal right to build anything they want (such as a fast food restaurant with a drive through window). The property is now zoned for any use that is consistent with the definition of the zoning, and will remain so for all time. By their nature, GC and PDD zones may become high density uses and should be assessed as such, no matter what the current intended use.

  • Residential zoning should not be changed to General Commercial to place businesses and their associated traffic flow inside neighborhoods.

  • Zoning should also not be changed to allow a General Commercial business to locate immediately adjacent to neighborhoods if the location will bring traffic through the community.

  • Students create the least amount of traffic when concentrated in planned multi-story, high-density units supported by bus service. The city should work with the University to minimize the impact that the student population has on traffic.

  • The city has approved detailed Neighborhood Plans to guide changes expected in the area over the next few years. These include extensive traffic analysis based on the expected growth, as well as mitigations to limit the impact of that traffic on neighborhood life. The city should not approve zoning that is inconsistent with these plans, or if it does so, a new traffic analysis should be required.