The importance of coordination in land development
A ride down many state highways in Texas—IH-35 for example—yields an obvious conclusion to the driver: land is being developed along these corridors faster than ever. This rapid development brings with it many issues such as access management, right-of-way preservation and drainage. For this reason, early coordination between the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and local cities and counties is critical to ensuring that developments occur in accordance with future plans and applicable regulations.
A series of workshops recently conducted for TxDOT employees by researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) sought to bridge this potential gap. The “TxDOT Involvement in Local Development Review” workshops were produced to expose TxDOT staff to the benefits and importance of local-state coordination in the review of land development that impacts state roadways. The workshops served as a follow-up implementation project from the research project entitled “TxDOT Involvement in the Local Development Process.”
“Early involvement in the process is especially helpful, particularly for fast-growing, urban districts like ours,” says Brian Barth, director of Transportation Planning and Development for TxDOT’s Dallas District. “Involving TxDOT in the process during the preliminary plat stage, when there is still some flexibility, is beneficial for everyone involved.”
The workshops covered all phases of the local development process, discussed when and how TxDOT should be involved, and included interactive class exercises using local development project examples. They also provided useful information on TxDOT development in local platting and site review for the following key reasons:
- to protect and preserve state rights-of-way,
- to manage on-system access via site development plans and subdivision plats, and
- to improve local-state coordination related to the inclusion of state roadways in local regional thoroughfare plans.
“One of the things we did was to provide TxDOT with insight into how local decisions impact their interests through the subdivision and development process and to show them opportunities for input and coordination,” says TTI Research Scientist Ed Hard. “We also used case studies to review developments that occurred along a growing TxDOT roadway over a 10-year period to show how many sites could have developed differently had there been better coordination. In some cases, coordination could have saved TxDOT and taxpayers a lot of money.”
Judging by the positive evaluation scores and active class participation, the workshops are being well received. To date, workshops have been held in 18 TxDOT districts.
TTI researchers are currently working on the next progression in the project, which examines the development of partnerships to manage and preserve corridors. A report was completed last year, and workshops are currently under development.
“We are trying to get everyone on the same team,” says Hard. With increasing project costs and development pressures, it’s more important than ever for TxDOT and local communities to work together. “We are all in this together with the goal of better coordination between transportation and land use planning and creating aesthetically pleasing corridors with less congestion.”