Smart Growth Stories: Susie Byrd on planning and growth in El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas, is split by a mountain and bordered by Mexico, and Susie Byrd is helping the city build great neighborhoods around these unique features.

Byrd is a City Council Representative in El Paso, and has represented District 2 since 2005. During her time as a Representative, Byrd has led numerous efforts to preserve the best parts of El Paso’s historic corridors while also transforming the city into a model of 21st-century success. Her leadership has helped lead to the adoption of a city-wide Smart Code (PDF), a new Rapid Transit System, and an innovative comprehensive plan for El Paso’s growth in coming decades. Plan El Paso has already been called the best smart growth plan in America, and it’s hardly a coincidence that an experienced, knowledgeable supporter like Byrd is behind it.

Byrd sees better planning – and better transportation choices – as a fundamental responsibility to her constituents and all the residents of El Paso. In the video above, she describes a recent survey of El Paso commuters and their thoughts on the city’s transportation options:

We asked people what they were doing currently. And from that survey, they said 91% of all their trips were by car. But then we asked them what would you prefer to do, and we asked them what would you prefer to do even if gas stayed the same price, and even if congestion stayed exactly the way it is. So just if you were to do it today, what would be your preference? And actually the preference showed that many, many more people would be willing to ride the bus, would be willing to bike, would be willing to walk, if they had those choices in their neighborhood.

And so what I took from that, really, is that we aren’t building a transportation network that really mirrors commuter demand. Or we’re trying to build that but I think more and more we should saying, here’s what commuters want; how are we spending our transportation dollars and does that mirror commuter demand? So, for example, if we built what commuters wanted or what they said was their stated preference, there would only be 61% of trips taken by car instead of what they are currently which is 91%.

Byrd’s work recognizes that where and how El Paso builds development and transportation infrastructure will impact the city’s natural resources and residents alike. She’s is one of many leaders across the country using smart growth strategies to make their towns and cities better places to live, work, and play.

Download a full transcript of Smart Growth Stories: Susie Byrd on planning and growth in El Paso, Texas

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