GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Transportation leaders in the City of Georgetown are preparing for growth. City leaders are working on a Bicycle Master Plan that will serve as a blueprint for future transportation projects to support a safe and connected bicycle network.
“I think the plan lays out a good network,” Raymond Miller, the city’s public works director said.
The city’s population has spiked in nine years from a little more than 47,000 people in 2010 to nearly 75,000 last year.
The growth has not just flooded the city’s roads with more vehicles but there’s a rise in recreational and commuter bicycle use.
“It’s my passion,” Leanne Smith, the president of Sun City Cyclists said about cycling. She’s been doing it for 50 years. “I started riding seriously in high school.”
Smith and many other cyclists could soon see changes to improve two-wheel riding.
“We started looking at bicycle master plan back in 2016 with the help from the University of Texas,” Miller said. “The plan really took hold in 2018, and the plan details out what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to biking.”
Miller said during the initial feedback process the city received over 1,500 survey responses to help the team put together the plan.
The plan identifies critical areas for connections within the city with north-south and east-west travel presenting a problem.
“Some of the barriers we have are San Gabriel River, we are working on an Austin Avenue bridges project that will rehab the current road bridges, but also potentially have a separate, additional bridge that will be for pedestrians and cyclists,” Miller said. “We also have the barrier of Interstate 35, which impedes our east-west connection.”
Miller said the Texas Department of Transportation has proposed improvement projects for Williams Drive, Leander Road, Westinghouse Road and SH 29 that will include shared-use paths.
The draft Bicycle Master Plan will consider off-street paths, protected bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and striped or marked areas.
At present, the city offers roughly 30 miles of trail riding for cyclists, but if the plan is approved it would add an additional 50 miles of bicycle accommodations.
“The overall network would be about 85 miles of bicycle facilities that would help provide a safe bicycle culture for the city,” Miller said.
The plan is set to go before city council in November for a vote. Before that happens, city leaders are asking the community for feedback. Smith said she’s ready to work with the city.
“We travel thousands of miles, so we know these roads,” she said. “We know where the problems are, we know where the traffic jams are and where they should concentrate and we’re happy to work with them.”
Wednesday the city will host a public open house starting at 6 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library.
“Any master plan or comprehensive plan that the city adopts is a living, breathing, working document that can always be changed, it can always be amended based on the demographics, what is the growth in the area, what is something new in the area that may change our need or focus our need in a different area of the city,” Miller said.
City officials estimate the plan will cost $15.7 million.