Fort Worth’s booming growth requires firm guidance

Strong indicators say Fort Worth’s rapid growth will continue for more than two decades.

There are also reasons to fear that the city will not be ready with infrastructure — streets and other transportation improvements, mainly — to fully accommodate that growth.

If that turns out to be the case, city leaders will have no excuse. After all, we have recent experience from the years of population boom on the far north side that shows how bad things can be when transportation infrastructure does not keep up.

In fact, those same leaders showed — somewhat belatedly — that they learned lessons on the north side, where the population grew from about 98,000 to 210,000 between 2000 and 2010.

Star-Telegram writer Caty Hirst noted in a report in Monday’s newspaper that in 2008 the City Council created a transportation impact fee, levied on each house in a new development, to help pay for roads.

The council increased that fee in 2013, Hirst reported, but critics say it still won’t yield enough money to build the roads needed to serve expected development.

That puts council members in a tough spot. They’re usually reluctant to increase fees, knowing that developers don’t like them and fearing that they will impede growth.

Still, the far north’s traffic problems, caused largely because major arterial roads were not built wide enough to handle added traffic from waves of new subdivisions, must not be repeated.

To the west and southwest, huge developments are already on the drawing boards.

Walsh Ranch will be a 7,275-acre behemoth. It is expected to have about 48,540 people in its residential areas, according to a concept plan filed in March.

Nearby, Beggs Ranch, the Crestview Boswell development and Dean Ranch are in design stages.

Farther west, preliminary plats already have been filed for the 734-acre Morningstar Ranch.

Areas west of Loop 820 are expected draw an additional 117,000 residents by 2040, according to projections from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Farther south is vacant land around the new Chisholm Trail Parkway between Fort Worth and Cleburne.

Developments there are expected to add more than 76,000 new residents by 2040, the COG projections say.

Fort Worth can also expect growing pains from redevelopment in inner-city areas. The infrastructure is there already, but it is aging and must be maintained.

Growth will also strain emergency services and quality-of-life improvements.

Proper planning is essential, as is willingness among city officials to be firm in guiding this growth.