The College Station City Council has approved a contract for a study of the Northgate District, where high-density growth has compounded safety and mobility concerns.
The entertainment district adjacent to the Texas A&M University campus has the highest population density of students in the city, as well as some of the city’s highest traffic demands. And while parking and promenades throughout Northgate were designed in 1996, more than 6,000 beds have been added to the area in the past five years alone. The goal of the study and a related mobility/operations plan, according to the city, is to determine how to best manage existing and future traffic in the district and improve safety for residents and patrons.
The council unanimously authorized the $188,000 contract with Wantman Group. Debbie Eller, director of community services, told council members Thursday that the project team will begin with data collection, interviews with stakeholders and walking audits of the area. Focus group meetings will also be held, and the team will make recommendations related to mobility and operations, public safety and methods of implementation. The work is anticipated to be conducted through the fall.
Among the challenges facing Northgate are increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic, limited loading zones for commercial deliveries at bars and restaurants, and the cleaning requirements that come with the entertainment district. Public safety also has remained a consistent concern over the years. The city has attempted to address some of these issues through recent temporary solutions.
In August, the city began closing Boyett Street between University Drive and Patricia Street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. That intersection has a signalized crosswalk, but police reported pedestrians had consistently ignored the signal and walked between cars turning onto Boyett from University Drive. Additionally, 25 spaces in the Northgate service lot were transitioned to a passenger pick-up zone, and parking spaces were angled to allow for safer traffic flow. The city has also invested in new video surveillance throughout Northgate, upgrades to street meters and LED lighting in the parking garage, among other recent improvements.
Eller told council members Thursday that if they choose to move forward with any recommendations that come out of the study, they would be implemented over the course of several years. Funding for the study was included in the budget for this fiscal year.