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Mobility Plan FAQ

Collin County Mobility Plan Update 2013 Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mobility Plan?

The Collin County Mobility Plan is a comprehensive plan for transportation systems that will serve the mobility needs of the county residents and guide major transportation investments. It is multimodal – that is, it addresses mobility needs for people and goods traveling by passenger vehicle, truck, public transportation, bicycle or on foot. The Mobility Plan includes a county-wide system of roadways, transit facilities, and hike-and-bike-trails that are needed to meet the travel needs of the County. The purpose of the Mobility Plan is to identify the transportation needs of area residents and businesses. It identifies the future transportation network that will be needed to serve projected population and employment growth and increased travel demand. The plan serves as a guide for major investment in improving transportation facilities and services. The plan responds to goals established for connectivity and mobility, environmental quality, community development, and safety. It identifies policies, programs and projects for implementation and continuing development, and it serves as a guide for local, state, and federal funding decisions.

Why is it important to Collin County? How will citizens benefit?

Transportation is vital to the quality of life and economic viability of any community. Therefore, a Mobility Plan is one of the most important planning tools available to a city or county. Planning is even more important in Collin County because of the county’s continued growth. Having a mobility plan in place provides the citizens of Collin County with the ability to manage growth and to take advantage of opportunities to obtain outside funds for transportation, reducing congestion and lessening the financial impact on the Collin County citizens. The Mobility Plan provides coordination among municipal plans, preserves corridors for future road improvements, and guides the dedication of road right-of-way under the Collin County Subdivision Regulations.

Who uses the Mobility Plan?

The Mobility Plan is used by the Collin County government as well as the cities in Collin County to determine where public and private transportation funds will be spent for the best benefit to the citizens. Developers have to conform to the Mobility Plan so that private development occurs in an orderly manner.

What is the history of the Collin County Mobility Plan?

The Collin County Mobility Plan dates back to the 1980’s, when Collin County was one of the first counties in Texas to adopt a County Thoroughfare Plan. Since the original Mobility Plan was adopted, it has been updated approximately every five years. The last update was approved in 2007.

What were the results from the 2007 Mobility Plan Update?

As intended, the Mobility Plan has continued to guide development of transportation improvements in Collin County since the approval of the 2007 Update. Residential subdivisions and commercial areas that have developed since 2007 have had to conform to the Thoroughfare Plan, thereby providing for the orderly development of transportation facilities to match the increased traffic demands of the developments. Coinciding with completion of the 2007 update to the Collin County Mobility Plan (and guided by its recommendations), the County undertook a Capital Improvements Bond Program that was approved by voters in a countywide bond election. The 2007 Bond Program totaled approximately $236 million in bond funding for 113 projects. The projects included approximately 146 centerline miles of roadway and drainage improvements. Approximately $40 million was allocated for county projects in unincorporated Collin County. The balance was allocated for projects within the incorporated municipalities and included 50 percent city participation in funding for the city projects. A County Bond Program Advisory Committee was appointed to recommend the project priorities. The resulting capital improvement program included many of the most critical mobility improvements facing the county and cities at that time. An additional $249 million from other sources supplemented the County’s funding for these projects, which cost a total of $485 million.

Additionally, the 2007 Bond Program was coordinated with the Collin County/ Texas Department of Transportation Pass Through Toll Program (41.4 miles of improvements) and the North Central Texas Council of Governments list of transportation improvement projects funded from the SH 121 Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA). Segment One of the Outer Loop was constructed as a two-lane frontage road between US 75 and SH 121. An extension of the Dallas North Tollway from Legacy Drive to US 380 was constructed by NTTA and there are future plans for extending the tollway north of US 380.

The Lavon Lake Bridge Route Study was also a result of the 2007 Mobility Plan Update. The County undertook a preliminary route study to find the optimum alignment should a bridge be built across Lavon Lake. After public meetings on the topic, the Collin County Commissioners Court voted on Oct. 11, 2010, to reject the Lavon Lake Bridge Route Study and update the County Thoroughfare Plan by removing any proposed new bridges.

It should be noted that there are not any specific plans for when another County Bond Program might follow the completion of the 2013 Mobility Plan Update.

What goes into updating the Mobility Plan? How long does this process take?

Updating the Mobility Plan involves people from all parts of Collin County. First, Collin County itself is the entity responsible for developing and leading the Mobility Plan. The County Planning Board oversees the project and recommends the resulting update to the Commissioners Court. The Commissioners Court (i.e., the elected county judge and four elected commissioners) ultimately adopts the Mobility Plan as County policy. Second, the cities within the county provide input through various methods, such as providing future land use plans, transportation plans, and other similar data. The citizens of Collin County provide input to update the Mobility Plan at public meetings and through serving on the County’s Planning Board. The development of the Mobility Plan takes approximately 18 months to complete.

Who are the partners in this process?

The Mobility Plan is a team effort of a number of agencies and organizations. Among these are Collin County Commissioners Court, Collin County Planning Board, Collin County Engineering Department, 40 local municipal jurisdictions within the county (including cities and utility districts), the North Texas Tollway Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Texas Department of Transportation.

The County contracts with an engineering and planning consultant firm selected by a competitive qualification-based procurement process to perform the planning and engineering services for updating the Mobility Plan. Collin County selected Jacobs Engineering Group to perform the 2013 Mobility Plan Update. The Jacobs consultant team also includes Freese and Nichols, Alliance Transportation Group, and Strategic Community Solutions.

What types of data are used to develop the Mobility Plan?

There are four main categories of data that are used to develop a mobility plan:

  • Thoroughfare System Inventory – The Mobility Plan documents the existing roadways within Collin County to establish a baseline upon which to develop recommendations. Roadways are generally classified by the number of lanes and the roadway’s function (i.e., collector street, arterial street).
  • Environmental Constraints – Floodplains and Lavon Lake are the primary environmental constraints for the Mobility Plan. For planning purposes, land within the 100-year floodplain is assumed to remain undeveloped. Parkland, historic sites, and threatened or endangered species are also considered.
  • City Land Use and Transportation Plans – Twenty-three cities within Collin County have comprehensive plans, which include future land use plans and transportation plans. Future land use plans serve as a guide to how a community will develop vacant land or redevelop existing land. The locations for future residential and commercial areas are identified on these plans and serve as a foundation for zoning decisions. The transportation plans complement the future land use plans by establishing the types of roadways that will be needed to serve the communities and help achieve the visions established in the future land use plans.
  • Demographic Forecasts (Population and Employment Projections) – For planning the future roadway network, it is important to know how many people will live within the county, as well as how many other travelers who will use the roadways. It is also important to know how many jobs will be in Collin County, as they generate vehicle trips on the roadway network. The number of people living in the county and the number of jobs within the county serve as the foundation for developing the computer model used to estimate future vehicle trips.

How was the demographic and land use forecast developed?

The North Central Texas Council of Governments provides the base population and employment numbers. The numbers are divided in 453 traffic survey zones (TSZs) that cover the entire county. Each traffic survey zone is reviewed and revised to ensure the accuracy of the population and employment numbers. Once the data have been revised to reflect an accurate 2012 estimate, then projections are created for 2020, 2035, and the county’s ultimate build-out scenario (i.e., once all vacant land has been developed).

In order to know how the county will develop, city future land use plans are used to identify where residential and commercial areas will be located. These plans also indicate the density of residential uses and the type of commercial use. Ultimately, the plans will indicate how many people will live within any community and identify areas for commercial uses. Areas not covered by a municipal plan, are anticipated to remain rural low density areas and develop primarily as one-acre or greater residential lots.

How will public input be used to develop the Mobility Plan?

There will be several opportunities for public involvement as the Mobility Plan is updated. Community Workshops are planned for February 2013 where public input will help define the goals and objectives for transportation planning in Collin County. A second countywide workshop will be held later in the process to ask for comments on the Draft Mobility Plan. After the public comments from these workshops have been considered a Public Hearing will be held on the Final Mobility Plan. Comments received from the public will be considered by the planners developing the Mobility Plan Update. The Collin County Planning Board will recommend the 2013 Mobility Plan Update for adoption by the County Commissioners Court.

How are existing plans and projects incorporated into the Mobility Plan?

Existing plans for cities are mapped using a geographic information system (GIS) and incorporated into the county’s GIS system. From these plans, a county map is created showing all the future land uses. For non-mapping data, such as population projections, the information is compiled in a database and used to guide the related areas of the project.

What does it mean if a thoroughfare included in this plan is shown at or near my property?

The location of a thoroughfare on the Mobility Plan means that a thoroughfare is needed in the general vicinity shown on the map. The County or a City or a developer will eventually contact the property owner in order to acquire the land needed for the thoroughfare. A thoroughfare, when built, will allow a significant amount of traffic to move more easily through an area, which property owners may consider to be advantageous or disadvantageous to them. The thoroughfare may not be located exactly where it is shown, so property owners have an opportunity to express their interest or concern about the exact location of a thoroughfare as the project moves forward, including the evaluation of potential opportunities and constraints that will determine the preferred location.

How is transportation funding programmed in Collin County?

Collin County leverages funds from several sources for transportation in the county. The most basic funding comes from those that develop residential subdivisions and commercial developments in the County. Those developments are responsible to fund and construct the roadways that are required as a result of their development, as well as to participate in funding thoroughfares to which their developments contribute traffic. The County sells municipal bonds that are approved by the voters to provide the County’s portion of the cost of major transportation projects. In a few cases, the County pays the entire cost of a project. But in most cases, the County partners with the Texas Department of Transportation, the North Central Council of Governments or the cities to utilize federal, state and city funds. In these cases the County’s portion of the funding is anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent of the cost of the projects. The resulting funding follows the priorities set collectively by the various entities involved in the projects.

Under a financially constrained plan, who decides where to invest?

The 2013 Mobility Plan Update will include a “financially constrained” thoroughfare plan for the year 2020 and a long-range vision plan for 2035. Planned improvements out to the year 2020 will be constrained by the amount of funds anticipated to be available over the next few years. Only known and very likely sources of funding will be assumed for the fiscally constrained plan. The County Judge and County Commissioners Court are the decision makers. The Collin County Planning Board will recommend the financially constrained Mobility Plan.

Where does the money come from?

Funding for transportation facilities comes from a variety of sources including Federal, State and Local governments, and the private sector.

A number of funding sources relate to use of the transportation system – people pay for the facilities because they are using them. Drivers of cars and trucks pay part of the cost of roads and other facilities through the gas tax they pay at the pump. Part of the revenue from vehicle registration fees is used to pay for transportation facilities. Users of tolled roads pay a toll each time they use a facility. Users of public transportation pay fares when they use transit.

These payments by the users of the transportation system do not cover the full cost of building, operating and maintaining transportation facilities.
Other transportation funding sources result from local government decisions. The State, County and individual cities may decide to build transportation facilities to meet the needs of their residents and businesses. A bond program contains a listing of such needed facilities. If the voters approve the bond program, then the government can issue bonds to raise money to build facilities. General tax revenues (such as property tax) are used to pay for the bonds.

Some transportation facilities rely on other types of funding. In some cases, a public-private partnership or a special district may provide funds to build or operate transportation facilities in a particular area. In this case, funding comes from the property owners in the area that benefit from the facilities.

Funding of transportation facilities is a major challenge. There is not enough money available to build new facilities, and maintain existing ones, at a level that will keep pace with growth in North Texas. This region expects to spend $101.1 billion on transportation facilities from 2011 through the year 2035. It would need almost $300 billion more to fully fund the facilities needed by that year. The Mobility Plan gives Collin County a tool to make sure its limited funds provide the greatest return on investment to the county’s residents and businesses.

​What happens if we do not invest in transportation?

By not investing into comprehensive solutions to existing and growing traffic problems, drivers will continue to face increased congestion and delays. According to the latest “100 Congested Roadways” report published by the Texas Department of Transportation, three important thoroughfares within Collin County made the “most congested” list:

  • US 75 between US 380 and SS 399 (#53),
  • US 75 between SH 121 and SH 190 (#56), and
  • Coit Road between W Spring Creek Parkway and Forest Lane (#91)

In 2012, these three thoroughfares alone were responsible for 3.3 million hours of traffic delay, at a cost of $70.26 million in lost time and productivity, which equates to almost $90 for every man, woman, and child living in the county.
More information about the “100 Congested Roadways” can be found on the Texas Department of Transportation website.

What do we get by investing public funds in the renovation/upgrade/management of existing facilities as compared to construction of new facilities?

To meet the needs of residents and businesses, a transportation system should have enough capacity to accommodate the number of trips people are expected to make in the area. The system’s capacity must be located in the places where people want to go – facility locations must connect trip origins (homes or businesses) with desired trip destinations (schools, jobs, shopping, etc.). Once facilities have been built, they must be operated and maintained so they are safe and functional; over time, the facilities might need to be renovated or upgraded to continue serving the people who use them. Our existing infrastructure of roads, transit and trails must be maintained to serve current and future needs.

A Mobility Plan examines the needs for transportation throughout an area and then recommends how limited funds can be spent to provide the maximum benefit to people in the area. The Plan must balance investment in existing and new facilities.

Existing facilities are already in locations where people want to travel. Investments to maintain, renovate or upgrade these facilities are important because they ensure that these facilities will have capacity to continue meeting travel needs. Without these investments, homeowners and business or property owners in the area might see a drop in their property’s value, as the area becomes more difficult to reach due to congestion or poor road conditions.

New facilities provide capacity in places where the community believes there will be a need for transportation in the future. As properties develop, the developments pay for and construct the basic roads needed by the developments. But it is also important that the transportation system keep up with the growth of traffic on the thoroughfares caused by new development. Investment in new facilities means that the people and businesses who decide to move to a new subdivision or commercial center will be able to travel to and from these areas. Of course, once these new facilities are built they will need to be operated and maintained so they can function effectively.

In Collin County, as in many communities, there is not enough funding available to pay for all the existing and new transportation facilities that might be desirable. So the Mobility Plan is a tool to help invest these limited dollars where they will provide the greatest benefit to the people who live and work here.

How has Collin County benefited from its investment in DART?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) provides public transportation within the boundaries of its member cities – those cities where the voters have chosen to be part of the DART system. In Collin County, those cities are Carrollton, Dallas, Garland, Plano, and Richardson. Collin County residents can use the DART system for travel in those areas and to other parts of the Metroplex.

DART provides transportation choices so that Collin County residents have transportation options. DART is particularly important for residents who are not able to drive themselves, such as elderly, disabled or children. By providing an alternative to the auto, DART also helps to reduce the number of trips taken on roads in the county.

Transportation and housing are a large share of the budget for most households. According to the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology (www.cnt.org), moderate income households in the Dallas – Fort Worth region spent 63 percent of their income on housing and transportation during the 2006-2010 time period. National research shows that people who live near transit reduce their transportation costs because they spend less on car payments, gas, insurance, maintenance and other auto-related costs. So these households can afford to spend more on a home or apartment, or on other things they want or need. Having this transportation choice available makes Collin County affordable to more families and households. 

DART also contributes to the economic vitality of North Texas. An economic impact analysis completed in 2009 found that the system expansion underway from 2009 through 2014 is expected to generate $4 billion in new regional economic activity and will create over 32,000 person-years of jobs. On-going DART operations are expected to generate $663 million annually in additional economic benefit to the North Texas region. More information about DART’s economic impacts can be found in the University of North Texas study on DART’s website.

There are three DART light rail stations in Collin County – the Downtown Plano, Parker Road and Bush Turnpike stations on the Red Line. An average of approximately 4,500 riders used these stations each weekday in 2011. Additional Collin County residents use DART’s HOV lanes, bus and paratransit services. More information about DART ridership can be found in the DART “Reference Book.”

Development near DART stations has created new places for people to live, work and play. These developments are particularly important because they serve a growing market of younger people who want to live in compact, walkable communities. In 2010, over 7,700 people lived within walking distance (1/2 mile) of the three Collin County DART stations. Almost 10,600 jobs were located within walking distance of these stations. For these residents and employees, DART offers a valuable transportation option. More information about development near DART light rail stations can be found on the DART website.