Grand Prairie Seeks Input From Residents About Transportation

By Alan Fleck | DFW Newsflash | September 2018

A review of the latest progress made and feedback received on the Grand Prairie Master Transportation Plan was presented at Grand Prairie City Hall by Project Managers from the consulting firm Freese and Nichols (F&N) on Thursday, Aug. 30.

The review was planned as an opportunity for attendees to provide more feedback regarding the proposed plans for Grand Prairie’s Transportation and Thoroughfare layout. The City of Grand Prairie is seeking the public’s input to help guide transportation and development decisions that will influence the community’s long-term prosperity and quality of life. The public had the opportunity to provide online feedback through Aug. 31. Any proposals will go through Grand Prairie Planning and Zoning commissions.

Edward Haas, principal, and transportation planning manager for F&N, commenced the meeting by presenting slides that described the process undertaken to reach this point in the project. Freese and Nichols (F&N) are consultants who were hired to help update the plans.

The biggest issue pushing the discussion Grand Prairie’s continued growth.

“We’ve taken the current thoroughfare plan, and we’ve coordinated with planning initiatives from all the neighboring communities, the state agencies, and updated the plan for general location of facilities,” Edward Haas, principal, and transportation planning manager for F&N, said. “We are identifying linkages, travel corridors, lane sizing, sidewalks, street scapes, and bike lanes, on or off streets.”

Wendy Shabay, transportation planning manager for F&N, and her team are working on the future land use plan. They are not just looking at transportation but also looking at population and employment.

Grand Prairie has grown a lot recently. From 2010 to 2017, Grand Prairie’s population has grown 8.5 percent. As a percentage of the population, the Caucasian population is down slightly, while both African-American and Latino populations have grown.

Grand Prairie boasts a lower percentage population than normal [for rest of state of Texas] of 55 and older residents; but higher percentages of population in the 25-54 range. This information reflects the fact that a lot of families live in Grand Prairie, according to F&N.

Planning and Zoning information for the city reveals that 67 percent of city is single family residential; 21 percent of city is residential; 20 percent is non-residential; and 28 percent of the city’s land is still available.

Public feedback to the city’s surveys showed residents want more public transportation, more parks, and more neighborhood revitalization and development (south more so than north). Residents are happy with the public services they are receiving. People would like more high quality development and less traffic.

The 2017 Land Use Plan focuses on land usage around I-30, 360, and 287 to the south.

Kevin St. Jacques, associate, transportation planning and traffic engineering, F&N, discussed sector plans. The focus on I-30 running west to east towards Dallas was split into several sectors. Western piece is more trucking warehouse and operational; middle and eastern sector have more options for new opportunity. In the 161 corridor, a lot of folks are concerned about possible overgrowth of large businesses, after IKEA and Walmart arrived.

Some people are trying to determine what will happen based on existing roads and growth.

“We need the transportation plan to be more strategic than haphazard.” St. Jacques said. “The impact of the extension of 360 all the way down to 287 needs to be understood.”

“Grand Prairie is a unique city. It does create some challenges because of north and south and Joe Pool Lake in the middle,” Steve Norwood, director of development, City of Grand Prairie, said. “Very few cities have a 360, a 20, a 161, and a 30. From a vehicular standpoint, it works well. This is looking at the next ten years. We’ve got a charter that prohibits us from spending money on public transit. We have a great day population, but in the evening, everyone goes back home.”

“Right now we are looking for public input and want to understand what they want to see,” Daon Stephens, transportation planner, City of Grand Prairie, said.

St. Jacques commented about being prepared to change whatever is built now into something else in the future. For example, if autonomous cars become the norm, parking garages may no longer be needed, and those garages should be built knowing they must be convertible in the future into office buildings or for other uses.