Parker County adopted a Master Thoroughfare Plan last year to assist in long-term transportation project planning, and on Monday, the commissioners approved a thoroughfare administration contract for the plan.
“We are providing this service to other counties where we support the thoroughfare plan that presents really unique challenges to Parker County. New development is happening very rapidly and changes in annexation law that prevents cities from annexing new areas puts the burden on the county,” Eddie Haus with engineering firm Freese and Nichols said. “As development happens, there are right of way dedications needed in order to support long-range use for transportation and the thoroughfare plan addresses that.”
Parker County Judge Pat Deen said the thoroughfare plan is a moving document.
“It’s not something that’s in stone, but it’s a document that will continue to evolve as we evaluate growth patterns, congestion areas and alignments with our school districts,” Deen said. “I think more than anything it’s a collaboration with the community to work together on a county-wide thoroughfare plan that aligns with communities and municipalities to be a unified document that everyone has a stake in, so that’s the goal going forward with regard to a thoroughfare plan.”
Haus said the contract helps with interpretation of the plan, responses to development requests and initiatives if updates to the plan are necessary.
“So this contract is really an on-call kind of contract to support the thoroughfare plan,” Haus said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said the intent is to try and avoid affecting people that already have property in the area.
“I think what the court’s intent is to avoid situations where we have people come back and say, ‘Now you’re going to take my property.’ We have put the thoroughfare plan in place to prevent issues like that so when there is a subdivision that comes along that would be a conflict with the thoroughfare plan, we already have that plan in place to prevent that,” Walden said. “We don’t want to approve a subdivision that will interfere with our thoroughfare plan.”
But Deen said it’s never going to make everyone happy.
“The thing about it is you’re never going to make everybody happy. It’s going to impact somebody’s property,” Deen said. “Once you take one problem away from a property owner, you’re going to be dumping it on another property owner and it will just continue, so these are challenging times and it takes due diligence working with our engineers to understand what the best course of action is, the best route to take.”
Haus said they could look into alternatives if the plan was to affect longtime residents.
“A lot of folks are longtime residents of the county and growth is happening. If it’s impact a lot of residents we can see if there are some other alternatives or do some kind of analysis to leave the road in maybe some kind of rural condition,” Haus said. “So that could be a way to respond to preserving existing development or existing condition.”
Deen was recently approved to be a representative for Parker and Wise counties on the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council.
“This will be my first week for the Regional Transportation Council meeting, so I look forward to sharing and discussing some of these situations and beginning that process of learning,” Deen said. “It’s a complex process and I think the main thing is to continue to do our homework on where these growth areas are and working with COG to do the very best we can in being adaptable.”
For more information on the Parker County Thoroughfare Plan, visit parkercountytransportation.com.