Tuesday, February 27, 2024

County plan for safer roads underway


Coryell County is currently developing an action plan to help improve roads for drivers and pedestrians as well as prevent fatalities and serious injuries. 

County Commissioners received an update at Commissioners Court on Tuesday about the progress of the Safety Action Plan from Natural Resources Solutions, a consulting firm in Austin helping the county form the plan.  

The firm is utilizing two main sources to help the county track data for the plan. One is a model that highlights areas within the county where fatalities and wrecks frequently occur, and the other is  a survey where residents can provide their own transportation safety concerns involving intersections and roads.

“The survey will help us understand what the public is most concerned about, so we can incorporate the findings into the Safety Action Plan,” Hannah Jordan with Natural Resources Solutions said in an email.

Steve Manning, President of Natural Resources Solutions said during Commissioners Court that they are also meeting with local school districts to determine what is needed to improve road and pedestrian safety in school zones, such as constructing sidewalks.

“I would figure all of those schools might have some instance where they are worried about crossings or places for school bus stops,” Manning said. “Anything like that we would want to know about.”

Manning discussed the possibility of working with the Coryell County Road and Bridge Department to determine an estimated cost of some of those improvement projects, and which ones will need to be prioritized based on the model and survey data.

Justin Latham with the Road and Bridge Department inquired about adding current county road project estimates to the plan. Manning and County Judge Roger Miller said the model should already highlight those areas, and those projects can be included as long as it improves county road safety.   

“That’s highlighted in fatalities on the county roads and that’s really what we are trying to address –fatalities, serious incidents and accidents, and then vehicle pedestrian,” Miller said. “Like Mr. Manning said, in school zones it’s to help mitigate the vehicle pedestrian sidewalks – they are all about sidewalks in school zones and school areas or routes that can get students or children from housing areas to the school.”

The county received funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant to develop the plan, which they applied for and were awarded last year. The development of a Safety Action Plan will allow the county to apply for the second part of the grant, which provides funds for projects to improve high-risk roads.

the U.S. Department of Transportation will release a notice of funding opportunities for 2024 in February. Miller said the county was eligible for up to $30 million in 2023.

Last year, SS4A provided $1.7 billion in federal funding to over 1,000 communities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Residents can access the survey and learn more about the Safety Action Plan at coryell-county-sap.com/community. The survey will remain open until February 29.