Seguin unveils newly updated thoroughfare plan
Posted on 4/20/2017 8:33:00 AM.
(Seguin) -- A new and updated plan that defined how future roads would be developed in the city of Seguin was officially unveiled Tuesday night. The final draft of the city proposed Master Thoroughfare Plan was presented to the Seguin City Council.
John Foreman, the city's assistant director of planning and codes, led the presentation with input from Tom Grant, of firm Kimley Horn, which helped the city with the development of the new plan. Foreman explained to the council the importance of having a thoroughfare master plan, and how it benefits the city as it grows in the future.
"The thing with the thoroughfare plan, it's a really unique document. It's a really high level document for the city, but it has very real functions on a day to day basis. So it sets transportation policy for years and years in the future, but we also pull it out when we get plats in all the time and look at it and use it. So it's kind of a unique document in that way. The reason that we started doing this in the first place, it's got a lot of purposes, a lot of tools. Really the main thing is, it supports the comprehensive plan and vision for community growth. It really is an implementation to a comprehensive plan that the city said this is how we want to grow, this is what we want to do. The thoroughfare plan helps get us there. More detail and more realistically, it provides a guidance for how streets are going to be laid out, where the streets go, how wide they're going to be, what their configuration's going to be. As I mentioned when development occurs, it helps to layout that network. So we're not trying to scramble when people are coming in wanting to build. We've already got a plan on how we want the city to be laid out, because we've got a thoroughfare plan already established," said Foreman.
The city previously adopted a thoroughfare master plan as part of the overall comprehensive plan adopted by the city several years ago. The comprehensive plan is designed to help map out the city's future for the next 30 to 40 years. But Foreman says the thoroughfare plan that was adopted then, needed to be updated which is why the city has gone through such an exhaustive process to redevelop the plan. He says they've taken all the input they've received over the last 12 months, and developed something that will serve the city's needs better than what was originally adopted in the old plan.
"It was very conceptual. There were a lot of roads outlined, but the alignments were really problematic. They really didn't pay a lot of attention to what was on the ground. So you had things like roads going over the railroad tracks or through the high school -- just basic challenges like that were simply addressed. Right-of-ways were not always appropriate. So sometimes the roads were too wide. Sometimes there wasn't right-of-way identified where there needed to be and really the comprehensive plan was very high level. There was some policies about transportation, but there was really an opportunity to have more detail and to set some priorities. So looking at all of these things, we kind of outlined a project that addressed the immediate challenges, but at the same time, allowed the city to set course for real good vision for the future of transportation," said Foreman.
The new plan doesn't throw-out all the ideas included in the original plan, but Foreman says it does try to enhance it while making it a better overall document. He says it takes a greater look at future transportation needs in the city.
"Some of the goals as we started framing the project came right out of the comprehensive plan. Having a Hub-and-Spoke System with internal connectivity within it, accommodating increased vehicular traffic and also paying attention to how other modes of travel like walking and bicycling were going to be accommodated and then also taking a look at thoroughfares, where they are, what their surroundings are and how they're designed and making sure all those things make sense. We call that contact sensitive in the plan, but that was something that wasn't really identified in the comprehensive plan and really carried forward through the plan is that a road is not the same road wherever it goes. It needs to pay attention to what's around it," said Foreman.
Grant, meanwhile, walked the council through some of the actual details included in the plan. He explained some roadways may have been realigned and how things would flow across parts of the city. However, many of the details he discussed dealt directly with downtown Seguin, which was also the key focus of the city's comprehensive plan. Grant says they looked at several downtown blocks and how they would be be utilized by the city.
"Looking at some of the issues related to on street parking, one-way streets, one of the exercises that we looked at was should the one way streets change? That was something that there's a lot of discussion back and forth at the moment. The plan says leave them as is, but that there could be further study -- really to make that decision, there's a lot of pros and cons to both. There's cost associated with it and parking impacts if you make it two way. A lot of times you can lose parking, but you provide better access and if you're trying to move the curb widths, it is going to have just other effects as you get through it. We have recommended that if you want to look at specific streets really do more of that traffic analysis -- block by block traffic counts -- see what the really impacts are going to be. That was a deeper dive than what this study was getting into," said Grant.
One notable change downtown could be a conversion of some streets into a more pedestrian friendly shared use roadway. Grant says many communities have successfully created spaces like these, particularly in downtown areas.
"The shared street concept is something that was introduced in your comp plan. You've probably seen it. A lot of times, we call it like a festival street. A number of cities are starting to go this way for a couple of the streets where you're going to have parades or different things where you're going to have just the festivals where you want to have no regular curb through there so you can cone it off, put barrels out at certain times and make it just a full walking street. This is one that’s been proposed for portions of Donegan, Nolte and River. So depending on the situations, you can do that. We're just working with the downtown groups very carefully as we're looking through those. There's a lot of support for this idea. That would be a rebuild of that street to make that operate like that," said Grant.
There are some really big ideas that are included in the plan. Many of those ideas are expensive concepts that the city has no plans to fund any time soon. Foreman says that's why they created a tier system to help identify those projects that can be more easily funded, versus those projects where there is no prospect of funding them at all in the foreseeable future.
"Tier one for instance, our projects that we have funding identified or have anticipated near term funding. So what that really means is that those are either your high priority of your short term projects. Tier two are projects with no funding identified that are definitely needs. Tier three are our mission and development projects and tier four are other projects that no funding is identified. Generally as you see on the map, that kind of pattern is the closer end of the city or the lower tiers which means there is funding identified. We're planning to grow incrementally out. The further the roads are out in our ETJ -- those are long term roads that we are really planning for in the future, but we're not funding, we're not anticipating to fund with this plan," said Foreman.
The council was not asked to take any action on the thoroughfare plan. The presentation was meant to give the council members and the public a chance to see the document, and to ask questions. The final draft of the thoroughfare plan will be considered for adoption during the council's next meeting on Tuesday, May 2.

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