Kyle considers increased use of traffic impact studies as congestion worsens

The time it takes waiting to make a turn as students walk across the street, or congestion on two-lane roads during rush hour were scenarios on the minds of Kyle Planning and Zoning Commissioners Nov. 28.

Such discussions took place during a workshop which centered on traffic in Kyle and the impact it has on the city.

P&Z Commissioner Pete Oppel introduced the idea of conducting traffic impact studies when a new school or an extension on an existing school is constructed.

William A. Atkinson, City Planner said the use of a traffic impact study would be viable for the area very soon.

“With the growth, existing schools are going to be at capacity relatively quickly … and construction of new schools can be expected every couple of years,” Atkinson said.

Beyond the use of a traffic impact study when a school is being built, new circumstances may also trigger a study, Oppel said.

Hays CISD is expected to eliminate a handful of bus routes beginning in January 2018, which will result in an increase in traffic around certain schools due to more parents dropping students off at school, he said.

In regards to safety, the city is working with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to lower speed limits on FM 2770 in preparation for the expected increase in traffic due to the reduction of bus routes.

The conversation on traffic near schools quickly steered to a larger discussion about the impact new housing and business developments have on traffic.

Atkinson said there is not a city code that requires or mandates a traffic impact study for new construction projects However, he said the need for one is growing.

How the city enforces developers to conduct traffic impact studies and under what guidelines will have to be looked into, Atkinson said.  

To gain insight on what is the best approach for the city to take, Atkinson said he plans to meet with city officials across the region to learn about how they manage traffic.

“As we keep approving subdivisions . . . and more projects in the pipeline, we know it’s (traffic) going to happen,” Atkinson said.

In a Dec. 4 phone interview, Leon Barba, Kyle city engineer, said the city plans for traffic as part of the transportation master plan, which is evaluated every five years.

He said the city is exploring the idea of traffic impact studies for projects.

Howard Koontz, Kyle community development director, said an issue with requiring developers to conduct traffic impact studies is they may hire engineers that prepare reports in favor of the developer.

Oppel said working on a traffic impact analysis concept or policy for the city is the ideal role for the committee because, its job is “to project and prepare for future circumstances.”

“I want (us) to set policies that are going to be applicable in the next 20 to 30 years,” Oppel said.

Commissioners agreed to further discuss the topic on Dec.12.

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