Both projects mean this older part of Sugar Land is likely to become much more popular, making it ripe for heavy congestion. This is something local resident Gavin Peterson says the area isn’t exactly ready for.
“Developing in this area that we’re in right now by the sugar factory, it’s not really built for a lot of traffic.”
The city knows this, which is why it’s spending 200,000 dollars on a mobility plan to discover how best to get its current and future residents from point A to point B. Patrick Walsh is Sugar Land’s transportation director. He says with all the new entertainment spots popping up, Sugar Land needs to think hard about its long-term transportation goals.
“So the city is looking at: ‘How do we connect these activity centers? How do we move people from one to the other? How do we get people from our residential areas into the activity centers?”
Resident Sandy Hellums is on Sugar Land’s citizens’ Mobility Advisory Committee. She says the biggest problem right now is lack of options.
“It is very difficult to move around as a pedestrian in a lot of our entertainment districts. There is no alternative in terms of pubic transportation. There’s no rail; there’s no buses; it’s pretty much your car and that’s it.”
Transportation director Walsh says more transit alternatives are exactly what the city’s exploring. He says Sugar Land hopes to double the number of its walking and biking trails over the next five to ten years and is coming up with ideas for intra-city transit options, like trolleys, that would link different parts of the town. Hellums has been tuned into the changing desires of residents at town meetings.
“I’m hearing that over and over at all of these things that people, especially with introduction of the baseball stadium, people would love to be able to bike to one park, jump on the trolley, go to the science museum and then walk over to the baseball stadium. I mean that would really be the ideal where you could spend your whole weekend in Sugar Land and not have to use your car.”
That does sound nice, but I’m thinking that for a transit system to be successful it needs to be more than a weekend option. In the bigger picture, there’s the commuter rail line that could come out that way and would go right to the stadium if it did. Getting it all to work together, and figuring out how to pay for it all, will be the challenges. They have a chance to get this right, and I wish them good luck in doing so. See the Sugar Land Mobility page for more.