Oak Ridge North’s master thoroughfare plan study, implemented in April 2016, has become a renewed topic of discussion for City Council members and residents as a new plan map presents mobility challenges in the area.
Oak Ridge North City Council held a special city workshop Feb. 26 to review an updated version of the city’s master thoroughfare plan studied by Brown & Gay Engineers. As a result of the workshop, council members decided to review findings and concerns presented by William Kotlen, a representative of Brown & Gay, and hold another public meeting at the end of March to consider adopting the master thoroughfare resolution.
While previous studies for the city largely focused on the future of Robinson Road, this thoroughfare study focuses on all the roadways and thoroughfares of Oak Ridge North and what future traffic volumes could look like for the city.
Joe Sherwin, director of public works and engineering for the city, said the study of the master thoroughfare plan classifies major and minor city streets, analyzes traffic and gives residents and businesses a chance to be prepared for the future.
“This is very good for a lot of different areas of our cities, not just for public works but also for city planning,” Sherwin said. “It gives business owners an idea of what our plans are, and what right of ways they can count on being improved, and what they should not intend on building.”
The study identified a variety of existing challenges and traffic counts on the different types of roadways in Oak Ridge North as part of the study. Kotlen said the study could be used as a communication tool with Montgomery County and the Texas Department of Transportation.
Kotlen said Brown & Gay reviewed all the studies the city has done for other roads so far and also reviewed the South Montgomery County Mobility Study, which was released in 2015 by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. As a result, the new map was created in the past couple of months to show traffic counts on major roadways and thoroughfares in the city.
One example is Robinson Road, which sees 16,170 vehicles per day, according to traffic counts by Brown & Gay. Kotlen said this is over the typical capacity of a two-lane road, which is 16,000 vehicles per day. Another road included in the study is Woodson Road, which sees around 5,000 vehicles per day.
“Traffic counts like [Robinson Road] and [Woodson Road are] what help us decide which roads are major and minor collectors and which ones are thoroughfares,” he said. “After that, we also look at the next 20 years. We found 30,000 cars [are projected to be] on Robinson Road in the future, doubling the vehicles now.”
Kotlen said a number of challenges were found in the master thoroughfare plan study, such as lack of access to I-45 from Oak Ridge North.
“People can’t find another way out to I-45, so then they cut through the city,” he said. “So as that grid fills in and people have more than one option to get to The Woodlands from the back of here, then that will help.”
City Council members are expected to meet this month to go over the study once more before finalizing the updated plan.
“This study is going to help us evaluate every road in Oak Ridge North,” said Mayor Jim Kuykendall. “We can then determine in the future what the needs will be.”