As New Braunfels roads get busier with an average of 15 new people moving into the area every day, city staff are looking at local roadways and their funding sources — with special attention being paid to intersections.
Garry Ford, city engineer, presented to the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce’s transportation committee Thursday morning on how the city examining and updating its roadway impact fee program and thoroughfare plan.
“As far as a roadway impact fee, what is it? … The impact fee really is to handle growth by new developments … and really it’s a proportionate share — it’s set up to be fair both to the developer and to the city,” Ford said. “These are the funds needed for growth, it’s not necessarily funds to address current issues, but it’s an easement to address growth.”
It’s a one-time fee assessed with development, Ford said.
“Why update it? State law requires us to update this every five years, so we’re in the process of updating that now,” Ford said.
There are a number of items city staff looks at, Ford said including land use assumptions, thoroughfare plans, (capital improvement projects) and more.
“What we’re really doing this year is focusing on intersections in our CIP program, because a lot of the delays and congestions are at intersections and it’s not necessarily on the roadway,” Ford said. “In doing that, it allows us to spend some funds — more bang for the buck.”
New Braunfels current capital improvement program is at $242 million, Ford said.
“So what that is saying is for the next 10 years, based on projected development we need $242 million to fund the needed infrastructure to address new development,” Ford said. “Through the impact fee, we can recover $90 million of that.”
The city then has to make up the rest of that from other funding sources, he explained.
“Our impact fee program started in 2007, we updated in 2013, now we’re in 2019,” Ford said. “All impact fees are related to capacity. So it has to be capacity driven.”
As far as the fee setting, that is a policy-council decision, Ford explained.
“It’s based on balancing the needs of economic development, based on what they feel is an appropriate fee, and also what they can identify as far as projects,” Ford said. “But I can tell you right now that the direction we received from council is that we need to get projects done, and there’s a lot of new development that’s happening on … roadways that we need to really start utilizing this.”
The fee also has a maximum set by the state, Ford said.
The city is also in the process of updating its thoroughfare plan, Ford said.
“We’re looking at different cross sections, so we’re looking at revising our cross sections, so a minor connector for example is pretty much no changes as far of right of way width or paving width on the minor connector … there’s different options that we have based on the context.”
Then there are major connectors, Ford said. City staff is looking to really promote more pedestrian safety while keeping most of the travel lanes, he said.
“So we’re looking for a bigger buffer width between the roadway and sidewalk but then reducing some sidewalk, or the pavement travel way, things like that, so those are the areas we’ll be updating,” Ford said.
There are specific areas the city is looking at, such as near the airport area, Klein Road, and around the new sports complex, Ford said.
“And we continue to work with our connects to Seguin and Guadalupe County, both on SH 46 and 130 — we have a great partnership with them, so we’re continuing on that,” Ford said. “We’re working on a street design guide that we’ll be focusing on next year, our public transit study is ongoing, and then we have a hike and bike trail plan update — that will incorporate some of the trails along the right of way.”
Over the next two years, city staff will work to also have an intelligent transportation system master plan, Ford said.
“New technologies are coming faster than you think,” Ford said.