McKinney is a true Texas gem. Those of us living in the community treasure McKinney's tree-lined streets, diverse neighborhoods, and thriving business atmosphere. It seems only natural that more people want to live here. In fact, according to Dallas News, McKinney's population of 168,000 will increase by 70% by the year 2040. We love that people want to do business here and move here. But are we prepared to grow the city's infrastructure to handle this rapid influx?
To plan for the population increase, McKinney created it's Master Thoroughfare Plan, a strategy to manage long-term car traffic. The idea is to create a network of roads, including new roads, designed to handle increased traffic as the city grows. But the plan poses challenges that aren't obvious at first glance. The plan's layout seems to encourage an influx of traffic and more people, which is seemingly a benign goal. The problem is that the city doesn't plan to widen many key roads as people and traffic surges. Bottleneck City, here we come?
Unfortunately, as traffic and congestion increases, car accidents, injuries, and fatalities increase as well. The combination of congestion and unsafe driving practices makes our roads less safe. Drivers frustrated by the traffic may drive more aggressively, weaving in and out of traffic, braking erratically, and driving too fast. On the other hand, drives stuck in gridlock may be more likely to pick up a cell phone and try to check their email or send text messages, leading to distracted driving and, inevitably, accidents.
Clutter on the road also means delays for emergency vehicles and more cars on the streets for longer due to gridlock and slow traffic. This congestion not only lengthens commutes, but it also increases the wear and tear on vehicles and increases fuel consumption. Even a car idling in traffic burns fuel.
The Master Thoroughfare Plan does show potential areas where the city will build new roads, and we expect the plan to reduce high traffic in residential neighborhoods, but critics say it still misses the mark. They say it could result in more Texas car accidents. They would prefer that the government widen certain existing roads that are not even part of the plan.
Meanwhile, others worry about the impact expansion will have on local businesses and the overall way of life. McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller, admits that "People will be impacted one way or another," and says the real engineering challenge has to do with minimizing the downside.
Finally, the proposed improvements to Highway 380 that involve residential properties have sparked some public backlash. Per Dallas News, "after many angry phone calls, emails and ardent speeches... the fate of residents' homes remains unclear as the bureaucracy works toward a solution. City leaders say whatever is done with the roadway is about a decade away, and all options - including one that would gobble up several homes - are still under consideration."
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