Oak Ridge North moves forward with master thoroughfare plan, addresses future mobility challenges

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 engineering. 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.

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 addressed a variety of existing challenges and traffic counts on major and minor collectors—a term used for roads—in Oak Ridge North as part of the study. Kotlen said the study could be used for city officials to know what future roads and pathways will be and 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 County Mobility Study. As a result, the new map was created to show traffic counts on major collectors and thoroughfares in the city.

One example is Robinson Road, which sees 16,170 vehicles per day, according to traffic counts. Kotlen said this is over the typical capacity of a two-lane road, which is 16,000 vehicles. Another road included in the study is Woodson’s Road, which sees around 5,000 vehicles per day.

“Traffic counts like [Robinson Road] and [Woodson’s 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 a current lack of an effective thoroughfare grid and a 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.”

All city council members agreed the master thoroughfare plan was important for future mobility and future right of way projects. The council is expected to meet in March to go over the study once more before making a decision.

“This study is going to help us evaluate every road in Oak Ridge North and divide it into what it actually is,” said Mayor Jim Kuykendall. “We can then determine in the future what the needs will be and how we need to work in the future for planning.”


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