The Future of Transportation on the Ranch
Discussing the Future of Transportation on the Ranch!
FAIR OAKS RANCH (JANUARY 24, 2023) – The City of Fair Oaks Ranch invited the public to a Transportation Town Hall on Tuesday evening at Spring Creek United Methodist Church. About 110 area residents joined the City Council along with City staff and representatives from TxDOT and the Fair Oaks Ranch Homeowners Association (FORHA) to discuss issues and policies related to upcoming projects and the City’s approaches to transportation planning. The forum allowed residents to engage directly with elected and appointed officials from the different agencies. Residents reviewed planning and project documents, asked questions, and raised concerns, and provided feedback on the overall direction of transportation policy in the City and the region.
The first portion of the town hall was conducted like a regular council meeting. Mayor Greg Maxton began the meeting at 6:30 pm with a Council roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance, and several individuals took advantage of the “Citizens to be Heard” portion of the agenda to discuss wide-ranging topics including environmental impacts of new development, speed limits in parts of the City, multi-use paths and trails along roadways, and especially the impacts to the City by developments that occur outside city limits.
Clayton Ripps, Director of Transportation Planning and Development for TxDOT San Antonio District and Fernando Camarillo, co-owner and CEO of Poznecki-Camarillo, LLC engineering firm, then presented an update on scheduled projects on FM 3351. The first major project discussed was the Cibolo Creek Bridge on FM 3351 in the northern part of the City. The bridge, scheduled for reconstruction in 2024, is expected to cost approximately $12 million and will be designed so that a 100-year storm event will not flood over the bridge. This feature is especially important to allow emergency response vehicles to use the bridge during high-water events. The bridge project also will provide for a sidewalk and a shared use path along with access to city trails managed by FORHA.
TxDOT also presented a progress update on the planned expansion of FM 3351 from Interstate 10 to Old Paseo Way just south of Fair Oaks Ranch city limits. The next steps in this project are to begin schematic drawings and environmental reviews of the project. Eventually, TxDOT will acquire right-of-way to construct the project. Finally, TxDOT reported that a planned I-10 expansion project from FM 3351 to Highway 46 in Boerne is environmentally cleared but not currently funded. The only scheduled project along I-10 in the near term is a resurfacing of portions of the highway north of Boerne and leading to Kerrville.
Following TxDOT’s presentation, residents visited “breakout stations” hosted by the City Council, TxDOT, and FORHA. At these breakout stations, residents viewed plans and features of upcoming City roadway projects. Residents also were able to study the City’s Land Use Plan and Transportation Master Plan that outlined the City’s plans to accommodate residential growth within the city and especially commercial and residential growth outside of the city. City Council members explained the City’s Transportation Plan includes a series arterial and collector roads such as Ralph Fair Road, Dietz Elkhorn Road, Amman Road, and Fair Oaks Parkway, that are designated to “collect” traffic from within and outside the City and thereby avoid traffic on smaller, residential streets. Council members and staff further explained how the use of the transportation plan is especially important for adjusting to future growth outside of the city that will have traffic impacts within city limits.
Residents also were able to the discuss the City’s capital improvements plan for upcoming projects. Several residents noted support for pedestrian and bike paths along Dietz Elkhorn Road while also expressing concern for the amount of land acquisition that may be required to build pedestrian paths. Many participants also were interested in the City’s plans for Ammann Road along the City’s northern city limits. Amman Road, which ultimately connects with Highway 46 in Boerne, is one the City’s roadways in most need of repair. Council members and staff discussed the needs of the City to balance structural and safety improvements with the desire to keep speeds low and to maintain the hill country character of the street and the area. Several neighborhood traffic issues also were discussed including traffic along Noble Lark Drive near Van Raub Elementary School and also along Post Oak Trail and Rolling Acres Trail. Board members from FORHA presented the trail system, which is owned and maintained directly by FORHA.
Council members and city staff noted in particular the collaboration throughout the evening between residents, elected officials, and staff members in identifying and discussing short-term and long-term issues facing the City. Mayor Maxton said, “From my view, the transportation town hall meeting was very successful. We had a great turnout, provided expert information to residents, and collected a considerable amount of feedback through our on-site feedback forms. The comments and recommendations received will be used in the development and management of future transportation needs for the City of Fair Oaks Ranch. I appreciate the support of our residents, TxDOT, the City Staff, Fair Oaks Ranch Homeowners Association, and our City Council in making this a great and valuable event.”
Initial results from an onsite survey collected by the City indicate the town hall was well received by residents with many enjoying the opportunity to learn more about transportation projects that impact the City and the willingness of City leadership to hear their feedback. Other survey results indicate a desire for more community discussion and town hall events, and several residents provided suggestions on topics that they would enjoy discussing.
The City plans to host additional town halls on a quarterly basis on topics that will be determined based on the council and public interest.