Mobility Master Plan set to change how people move through Sugar Land

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Think about your last trip to the grocery store. What roads did you take? If you wanted to, could you ride your bike there? Is it possible to take a walk to grab that gallon of milk you need? All those modes of transportation -- driving, bicycling and walking – are examples of methods of mobility. And in a recent survey, residents said mobility is on the top of their minds.

And Sugar Land officials listened.

The Mobility Master Plan will be the City’s first integrated mobility plan – one with a renewed focus on creating multiple mobility options for residents to take advantage of. City Council approved the development of the plan in January. From start to finish, the plan will take two to three years to complete.

However, this isn’t the first time the City has focused on mobility. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan in 2013 focused on projects specific to pedestrians and bicyclists. The Master Thoroughfare Plan, which connected the City’s roadway network was implemented in 2012. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan in 2011 was the first plan to address the entire mobility system.

But the Mobility Master Plan is different.

This plan will take a holistic look at mobility throughout the City and extraterritorial jurisdiction, and will include plans for all modes of transportation including, but not limited to, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, transit, freight, and trucking. Over the years, the mindset has evolved from moving cars to moving people and goods.

“It’s really an opportunity to envision the future of mobility in Sugar Land,” Ruth Lohmer, the City of Sugar Land’s City Planner – Long Range, said. “It’s really the time to think about what we want out of our mobility system in the next 20 or 30 or 40 years and start putting together a plan to get there.”

The development and implementation of technology in the past 10 years has been a game changer, said Monique Johnson, the City of Sugar Land’s Transportation & Mobility Innovation Manager. With innovation like traffic cameras at intersections to monitor traffic congestion, thanks to the work of the City’s Traffic Division and Public Works teams, the City has been able to capitalize on technology that makes mobility throughout Sugar Land easier.

The City of Sugar Land has tasked a group of people to help continue that forward thinking.

At the heart of the plan is the Mobility Task Force, a group of 23 people who represent the various ways to move throughout the city: commuters, carpoolers, walkers, transit users, employees and more. In addition to the core group of residents, the task force communicates with city staff and professional advisers to help guide the group through plan development.

“The task force is pretty much the sounding board for this project,” Johnson said. “Because public engagement and getting input from the community is important, we wanted to have a task force that is representative of the people in the community as far as race, ethnic background, gender, age, but also people with different mobility interests.”

In addition to the feedback city staff will receive from the task force, all Sugar Land residents are encouraged to fill out a survey that will gauge the community’s mobility habits and interests. The survey is anticipated to launch in late October.

Carla Mondt, a New Territory resident who works at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, is the vice chair for the Mobility Task Force. Mondt said she was interested in being a part of the task force so she would have a hand in changes that could benefit the residents of Sugar Land.

“I think it’s good for residents like us to get involved in things that we may not specialize in, but we may be able to contribute to in a meaningful way,” Mondt said.

Mondt said she’s learned a lot during her time so far on the task force, with the most interesting being able to see what goes into making the City work in terms of infrastructure and connecting the various communities within the City.

 “It’s about keeping people moving in so many different modalities, whether they’re in a vehicle – which is what the city has focused on largely over the past years, but as well as walking, biking and moving people not just to and from work, but to and from the way people live their lives,” Mondt said.

Read more about the Mobility Master Plan at www.sugarlandtx.gov/MobilityMasterPlan.