New Braunfels grapples with congestion as people flock to the area

Efforts include improved traffic signals, more mobility options

New Braunfels’ explosive growth over the past 20 years has brought a lot of new opportunities and also some challenges.Those include traffic and congestion, side effects of growth that city officials are trying to manage.
New Braunfels’ explosive growth over the past 20 years has brought a lot of new opportunities and also some challenges.Those include traffic and congestion, side effects of growth that city officials are trying to manage.

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – New Braunfels’ explosive growth over the past 20 years has brought a lot of new opportunities and also some challenges.

The challenges include traffic and congestion, side effects of growth that city officials are trying to manage.

“Traffic has definitely been picking up a lot,” said Tricia Coe, who commutes to New Braunfels every day. “The last six months, I’ve seen an increase in my travel time and everything. "

Coe is one of the new arrivals in the region, as she moved to Texas a few years ago from California.

She’s glad to see that officials with the Texas Department of Transportation as well as local officials have been focused on improvements to roadways like Interstate 35, State Highway 46 and Loop 337. Coe is one of the 70% of people who work in New Braunfels but live in other parts of the region.

“I think that’ll really help with the congestion, so if people don’t all have to go on 35, it’s just making it easier to get around and not get stuck,” Coe said.

New Braunfels officials are also working to ease congestion on local streets and roadways.

“It’s a work in progress, you know, I think there’s no secret that we’re one of the fastest growing cities in the country, so we’re definitely trying to keep up,” said Garry Ford, city engineer and assistant public works director. “With our bond programs with ample funding … that provides us the opportunity to try to address congestion and try to address mobility.”

Those efforts include adding turn lanes and adjusting signal timings at several intersections, with four corridors either under construction or under design. There’s also been a focus on closing “sidewalk gaps” in the city.

“Sidewalks weren’t necessarily a priority or requirement for some of the new developments, or they receive waivers for sidewalks,” Ford said. “But as the community is starting to grow, the demand for pedestrian improvements, pedestrian mobility and also bicycle mobility has come up.”

Two prior bond issues are helping to fund the projects, and city officials are considering whether to ask voters for another one in 2023.

“They understand if we want to be the type of community that all of us old timers want it to be and all of those new folks coming to town want it to be, we’ve got to keep up with the growth,” Mayor Rusty Brockman said.

New Braunfels is also studying the expansion of transit options both in town and with possible connections to areas like Seguin, San Marcos and San Antonio. The study has found that New Braunfels is the largest city between San Antonio and Dallas without its own fixed-route transit system.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.