Survey: New Braunfel transport bills slip | Community alert

With New Braunfels’ explosive growth, it may come as no surprise, but a recent survey of residents indicated that mobility remains a challenge in the city, compared to previous surveys conducted in 2019 and 2017.

This is one of four key findings from the National Community Survey developed and provided by the Wisconsin-based Polco National Research Center in partnership with the International City/County Managers Association.

City officials released the results of the investigation at Monday’s city council meeting.

According to the survey, only 29% of respondents rated the overall quality of the city’s transportation system as excellent or good, with the remaining 71% rating it as fair or poor.

“Ratings in this facet — mobility, transportation, etc. — tended to be lower than national benchmark comparisons,” said Jade Arocha, director of survey research at Polco/National Research Center. Also… (ratings) tended to drop from 2019 and in some cases from 2017 as well.

Among other questions in the survey, 25% of respondents rated the traffic flow on main streets as excellent or good, which is significantly lower than the 44% of respondents giving a similar rating in the 2019 survey. and 49% in the 2017 survey.

Only 31% of respondents rated the ease of public parking as excellent or good, compared to 40% of respondents in 2019 and 47% in 2017.

The survey also indicated that 50% of respondents rated the ease of getting around by car as good or excellent, up from 61% in 2019 and 67% in 2017. Ease of getting around by public transport only rated good or excellent than 8% of respondents. , compared to 13% in 2019 and 18% in 2017.

Of those surveyed, 27% rated the ease of getting around by bike as good or excellent, up from 29% in 2019 and 32% in 2017, while 47% rated the ease of getting around the city on foot as good or excellent, compared to 54% previously. in the 2019 and 2017 surveys.

Cars wait at a traffic light on Seguin Avenue and Mill Street Friday, July 15, 2022 in New Braunfels. The City Council released the results of a national community survey showing how New Braunfels residents rated the overall quality of the city’s transportation system.

There were some positive signs to the questions asked in the survey regarding mobility. On par with the 2019 survey, 41% of respondents rated traffic signal timing as good or excellent, and 52% rated sidewalk maintenance as good or excellent.

With an upward trend since 2019, around 60% of respondents rated the city’s street cleaning and lighting as good or excellent.

The overall less than positive feelings about New Braunfels’ transportation system come despite the city and state spending millions of dollars building and improving streets, whether completed, underway or in the planning phase.

In 2019, New Braunfels voters approved approximately $44.5 in tax liabilities for street construction including an extension of Klein Road, reconstruction of Goodwin Lane/Conrads Lane, improvement of 20 streets across from the city and additional funds to begin the Farm-to-Market Road 306 and Elliot Knox Boulevard extensions.

Recognizing the challenges in our transportation system, New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno told the Herald-Zeitung that the city has continued to make significant investments in this area with the 2013 and 2019 bond programs and annual budget.

“However, we understand that the investment must continue,” Camareno said. “In 2021, we created the Transportation and Capital Improvements Department, which included the addition of a Transportation Planner. We have also conducted preliminary transit assessments in our community and will follow up with further review to better understand feasibility and implementation steps.

In May, New Braunfels City Council members moved several potential transportation projects to the preliminary design stage for possible inclusion on a 2023 bond ballot.

According to Camareno, projects proposed in the preliminary design process now include the Common Street Widening Project, the Barbarosa/Saur Lane Widening and the ongoing citywide street maintenance programme.

In addition, New Braunfels City Council members last year allocated approximately $1.6 million to fund more than 50 different road maintenance projects, ranging from preventative maintenance to comprehensive road rehabilitation projects. .

The city’s public works department is seeking public input on the city’s 893 miles of lane to be addressed in the next fiscal year.

An in-person public forum is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. in the Tejas Room at New Braunfels City Hall, located at 550 Landa Street. During this public forum, residents will be informed by the Public Works Department of the roads eligible for street maintenance projects, the selection process and the type of projects that will be included in the proposed street maintenance plan for 2022. /2023.

Ongoing Texas Department of Transportation projects include a $63.8 million project to add two-way trunk and frontage lanes on I-35 between Business 35 and the Hays County line and the $14.2 million River Road Viaduct, widening the 337 major lane loop between Rock Street and Word Parkway. Both are expected to complete before scheduled completion in March 2023.

An $18 million relocated left-turn intersection for FM 306/Creekside Crossing opened in February.

Other discoveries

Among other key findings, the survey indicated that residents enjoy a high quality of life. About nine in ten residents gave New Braunfels excellent or good ratings as a place to live. The survey also revealed that eight in ten residents would recommend New Braunfels as a place to live and plan to stay in the city for the next five years.

The survey also revealed that community members value the city’s utility infrastructure and emphasize its importance. At least nine in 10 residents identified overall utility infrastructure as a priority. Six out of 10 residents gave high marks to the quality of public services infrastructure, on par with the national average.

The survey indicates that 53% of respondents gave affordable high-speed Internet access a good or excellent rating, 87% garbage collection, 78% drinking water, 85% sewer services, 76 % to stormwater management, 74% to electric utility and 60% to utility billing.

“When you look at utility-related services in New Braunfels, all of those are similar to national benchmarks,” Arocha said. “Most of them were rated positively by at least three-quarters of survey respondents. And we saw, for the most part, stable ratings over time, with the exception of drinking water and stormwater management, which both increased from 2019 to 2022.”

In a fourth key finding, the survey revealed that the city’s economy remains strong despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, affordability is a priority for residents.

The survey showed that 77% of respondents said New Braunfels’ overall economic health was good or excellent. But only 36% of respondents said the city’s cost of living was good or excellent, and 20% gave a similar rating on the availability of affordable housing. Additionally, only 18% of respondents said the impact of the economy on family income over the next six months would be very or somewhat positive.

COVID Relief Fund

In a custom question for the 2022 survey, respondents were asked to rate how important they thought it was for the city to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds at the community level in each of the categories listed. .

The American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, was signed into law in March 2021 and included $130 billion for local governments split equally between municipalities and counties.

New Braunfels will receive $10.9 million in coronavirus recovery funds to distribute to local agencies and nonprofits.

At the top of the list, 82% of respondents indicated that investments in the water and sewer system were essential or very important.

The survey showed that 75% considered services or programs to promote healthy environments for children to be essential or very important, 70% for helping employers to help provide a bonus for essential workers, 70% for % for economic assistance to households with housing, food or other financial difficulties, 67% for services to meet behavioral health needs exacerbated by the pandemic and 65% for economic assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The survey also indicated that 63% of respondents said it was essential or very important to increase services and programs to improve the health of communities and residents hardest hit by the pandemic, 62% for investments in housing, 61% for investments in parks, public squares and other public spaces for outdoor recreation, 57% for assistance to workers who have lost their wages or jobs and 48% for assistance economy aimed at accelerating the recovery of the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors.

“The City Council’s Finance and Audit Committee has expressed a strong interest in committing a portion of our ARPA funds to improving public transportation,” Camareno added.

Poll history

The city has already conducted this survey four times – in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

“This survey provides a scientifically sound assessment of residents’ views of our community and allows us to compare to the four previous surveys we’ve conducted and compare with national averages,” Camareno said. “We will use the results to help finalize the proposed fiscal 2023 budget goals and priorities and the proposed 2023 obligation. Throughout the year, the survey will help inform decision-making and strategic planning, so that we ensure that our programs and services are consistent with the feedback we have received from residents.

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