A New Metropolitan Blueprint for Texas

Traditionally associated with its wide-open spaces, Texas is now, undeniably, defined by the cities and suburbs that comprise its built environment.

March 25, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Houston, Texas

The Montrose neighborhood in Houston, with downtown in the background. | Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

Three institutions—the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, the SMU-Bush Institute Economic Growth Initiative in Dallas, and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston—issued a "metropolitan blueprint" for the state of Texas. The blueprint is the first of its kind, as is the collaboration.

The key assumption underlying the blueprint is that the state is now defined by its developed places. "[C]ities and suburbs are Texas these days," reads an article by William Fulton announcing the report.

The report, therefore, offers a "road map that will move Texas toward a prosperous and successful metropolitan future" by challenging the status quo of business friendly policies and sprawling development patterns.

Before the pandemic emptied out urban business districts, Texas’ cities and suburbs had become notorious for their traffic congestion. Travel between the nodes of the Texas Triangle is time-consuming and inefficient. Governor Greg Abbott has acknowledged that road-building alone can no longer suffice to meet the state’s transportation needs.

The metropolitan prescription offered by the blueprint focuses into three key recommendations: 1) Texas should invest in Texans, 2) Texas should empower local communities, and 3) Texas needs solutions that are Texan. The report also focuses on three key areas: 1) Economic Development, 2) Housing and Land Use, and 3) Transportation and Infrastructure.  

For additional reading on the blueprint—its conclusions, assumptions, and recommendations—see also an opinion piece written by Fulton, Kyle Shelton, Steven Pedigo, and J.H.Cullum Clark that's behind the paywall at the Houston Chronicle.  

Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research

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