Buda eyes more traffic studies

Crafting solutions to traffic congestion in Buda was a topic the city’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission took up Nov. 28.

The discussion was brought up via a presentation by city staff relating to the history of traffic congestion and possible ways to mitigate it.

Chance Sparks, Buda assistant city manager, said prior to 2002, the city’s Unified Development Code (UDC) did not contain specific enough requirements for Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA), which are studies to determine the traffic impact of a development.

Prior to rewriting its Unified Development Code (UDC) earlier this year, a TIA could only be triggered if a proposed project had an average of 5,000 daily trips, or vehicles traveling to and from the development. Sparks said that meant development projects could be split up into smaller ones that didn’t qualify for a TIA to move forward.

Sparks said the oversight should not be construed as negligence on the part of city leaders at the time, but an unawareness of the growth the area would experience and the ability to use TIA’s as tools to manage growth.

Sparks said Buda’s rewrite of its UDC could mean tighter requirements for TIAs to be done by incoming developers in the future.

Implementation of Roadway Impact Fees could provide regulatory solutions for the current traffic issues on currently congested Buda roadways, Sparks said. Impact fees are imposed by cities and other entities that require developers to front construction costs for new infrastructure.

“Roadway Impact Fees help fund the improvements that will ultimately fix stuff,” Sparks said. 

Sparks said there are a number of transportation projects currently underway that would help alleviate some of the traffic congestion issues. Sparks cited improvements along RM 967, continued work on FM 1626 and the completion of the Robert S. Light Blvd. extension.

John Nett, Buda city engineer, listed additional transportation improvements that could further mitigate congestion, such as improving the RM 967 and Main Street intersection.

That project, along with a handful of others, could comprise of a potential application Buda may submit to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2019-2022 Project Call for federal funding. 

With upwards of 15,000 people living in Buda, Colin Strother, P&Z chairperson, said the city “lacks the ability to add capacity without destroying a lot of our character.”

However, P&Z commissioners wanted to divert semi-truck traffic away from the downtown sector, claiming that the flow of traffic through Main Street would be greatly improved without the influx of large trucks.

Sparks said the Robert S. Light extension would help reduce truck traffic in downtown by connecting IH35 to FM 1626 and bypassing the need to go downtown on Main Street.

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