Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Everything’s bigger in Texas

The cities,  the freeway lanes, the sprawl. Texan planning seemingly has no control, and the absence of zoning undoubtedly contributes to the chaos. Lanes upon lanes of freeways span expansive cities, and traffic congestion is rife. Public transport is virtually non-existent. However, certain parts of cities are introducing, or planning to introduce, transit to help connect ever-expanding cities. Not that connectivity hasn't already been thought of - President Obama was rejected of his plans to connect Chicago to Austin via a high speed rail, although a private investor has been approved of the first stage of a high speed rail to connect Dallas to Austin. Things are only beginning to change now.

The future of planning in Texas has been impeded by years of no planning. For example, Houston has only recently adopted its first general plan after many false starts over the last few decades. For years, many community groups advocated for a general plan, as there was no citywide plan articulating goals for the future. In spite of their efforts, many plans came together but were never formally adopted. This has been further exacerbated by other communities who fear that comprehensive plans have ulterior motives, and are therefore fearful of planning. Additionally, after years of being allowed to build whatever and wherever, Texans are hesitant about a future with rules and regulations.

However, all is not lost, and glimpses of planning for the future are beginning to shine through. Master-planned estates in Austin that are thriving with community interactions, transit being built in downtown Houston with plans for expansion, and urban regeneration projects all across the state are just some instances of what people are trying to achieve

Talei Lewis

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