Every Monday is a new opportunity to test the plans in place to help limit traffic congestion at Plano’s new Legacy West development.
Each week this summer, about 250 new Toyota employees will begin work at the automaker's new North American headquarters near the northwest corner of the Dallas North Tollway and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.
Between Toyota, FedEx Office, Liberty Mutual and JP Morgan Chase – all of which are relocating headquarters to the 250-acre Legacy West development – there will be between 12,000 to 15,000 new employees showing up for work within the next 12 to 18 months.
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In an effort to prevent a crippling backlog of traffic along the highways and the local roads, the City of Plano has partnered with Legacy West’s large corporate tenants as well as Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
“Mostly this happens in real urban centers: Downtown Dallas, Downtown Fort Worth, Downtown Austin, even. But in Plano we are getting to that point where we are kind of competing with the number of jobs that these traditional urban centers have,” said Peter Braster, Director of Special Projects for the City of Plano. “We’re becoming a new urban center, so in that regard it is kind of unique.”
Braster will present an update on the “mobility solutions” plan he has been overseeing to Plano city council members Monday evening. His ongoing study focuses on existing and projected traffic flows.
"What happens is we just start to get more and more traffic, more and more backed up. It's not going to come to a grinding halt, but it will become a lot more congested," Braster said. "Our real goal here is to get 20 percent of the people to use or do some alternative way of getting here."
Among the many solutions to limit the effect of the increased traffic into and out of Legacy West is an effort to stagger the start and end times of workers’ shifts at the four major corporate employers.
"If we can just shift work by a little bit, like 15 minutes say, we can really alleviate any bottlenecks there are at certain intersections," Braster said.
In addition, Plano has worked with DART to add specific bus routes that will run to Legacy West.
A survey of Legacy West employees showed that 40 percent of drivers are open to change in its mode of travel, which has made Braster optimistic that ridesharing programs could reduce the number of vehicles headed into and out of the development.
“Today, I think more than ever, we have a lot of employees — especially the younger ones — who really want options to get to work,” Braster said. “They are not really convinced that driving along in the car is the best thing.”
Braster said employees will be encouraged to try the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ tryparkingit.com website, which helps people find acceptable partners for carpooling.
DART will also roll out a beta version of its GoPass app which will only be available in the City of Plano. The app will allow users to purchase bus or light rail tickets, check on the estimated arrival time of their service and also hail a ride with services like Uber, Lyft and Zipcar.
As a part of the overall mobility improvement plan, Braster said that he is optimistic that a Transportation Management Association formed between the city, DART and the employers will help the employees play a substantive role in the process to mitigate traffic congestion. The TMA is a nonprofit association led by a Board of Directors that acts as an “organized group applying carefully selected measures to facilitate the movement of people and goods within an area.”