SINTON – When the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) showed up to commissioners court last Monday, attendees weren’t too thrilled to hear another presentation from yet another Corpus Christi organization.
But when MPO Transportation Planning Director Robert McDonald began dropping numbers, everyone was soon paying a lot of attention.
“We’re not just centered where we have our offices,” McDonald explained, “we cover two counties in our planning, but we also deal with some great agencies from the federal government.
“We also deal with the port cities and the city of Portland and the Coastal Bend Council of Governments.
“So, that’s a lot of moving parts, but that’s not all of it. Remember, we also deal with everything transportation in the regions.”
McDonald continued to say that the MPO works with local economic development corporations to see what the county will look like in 25 years. They also performed studies to see what the railroad was going to look like in 2045.
While not the entire county will feel the entirety of the impact from industry growth, McDonald said that each and every city’s chamber of commerce or EDC is integral in helping jobs come to the area.
“I mean it’s hard to wrap your head around what transportation is going to be like in 25 years,” McDonald continued. “That’s a tall order.
“Luckily we update that every five years which is more manageable.”
Back to the 25-year estimation in terms of numbers.
The MPO predicts that by 2045, the population of both Nueces and San Patricio County will go from 455,043 to a whopping 575,601, showing a 26% growth within the two counties. The map shows a massive influx of people moving toward the new industry portions of the county such as Portland, Ingleside and Sinton. Even though Mathis is on the far end of the county, it also shows a massive influx of population.
“So, your county and the other county provide information and the state provides information based on the county level of planning, so I put that in because it’s really important,” McDonald said. “We try to capture everything within here – all the businesses, all the economic development.
“So when we look at how do we devise a transportation system for the next 25 years, obviously, we’ve got to have citizen input, the business input, policy level from your level and certainly the crazy technical people like me and others and trying to figure out what’s the background.”
He continued to explain that while 25 years is a pretty distant, San Patricio needs to look ahead about four or five years and see what’s coming, like the new Harbor Bridge, and begin budgeting for more business, more people traveling to the county and what businesses can do to keep up with the growth.
“So the rough numbers are about 155,000 more people coming into the two counties,” McDonald added. “Where are they all going to live?
“That’s what we want to look at. Similarly with employment, we’re expecting 70,000 new jobs coming to both counties. So we want to know about where they are, which, as you can guess, if you have employment you have the people who have to travel between the two.
“And with that magnitude, you got to figure out where the roads going to be, do you have to widen roads, do you have to put more transit in place, so what is it that you need to accommodate this kind of growth.”
San Patricio County Judge David Krebs, who’s also a chairman on the Transportation Policy Committee for the MPO, put it simply.
“This county needs a master plan.
“If you look at the growth that is projected out through 2045 in this county, we have got to plan for this growth somehow.
“We can’t sit around and wait for it to happen.”
He went on to praise the San Pat EDC but said it’s not capable of handling this amount of growth, so using resources like the MPO could benefit everyone involved.
Krebs said that three weeks ago an agenda item appeared before them, asking for Corpus Christi’s help which many local residents quickly shot down seeing it as a way for Corpus to take control of San Patricio County.
The agenda item was ultimately tabled, but should be back at this coming Tuesday’s commissioners court hearing.
“I think (McDonald) can give us some great forecasts of what we’re going to be looking for,” Krebs continued. “And we look at that plan every five years.
“We have to decide where do we want our retail to be in the county and where do we want our commercial to be here in the county.
“And especially, where do we want to want the industry to be in the county?
“I think it’s all up to the master plan so we have to have it.
“When the industry comes in, we can show them this master plan and they have a projection of where they can look at so this land, especially over in the Odem area.
“I mean there’s land over there, it’s available. So we can look to protect the cities and at the same time planning for what we want to have over there because it’s coming.
“And there’s probably a lot more (MPO) can help us out with and oversee it.”
To view more maps on the projected growth and get more information on the MPO, visit corpuschristi-mpo.org.