The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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More students, less safety

Photo by Photo by Madeline Sambrano

The growth of the College Station population has led to longer emergency response times.

The growth of College Station has led to an increase in response times across the board for emergency services, according to the College Station Police Department.
College Station is the fifteenth fastest growing metropolitan area in the nation, according to a 2015 U.S. Census Bureau report. The population has risen from roughly 50,000 in 1990 to 112,141 in 2016. This increase has been at the forefront of municipal city planning and emergency response, bringing the College Station Fire Department (CSFD), College Station Police Department (CSPD) and civil engineers together to solve the issue of dramatic population growth.
Local civil engineer Jerry Cazasres specializes in traffic, determining the best pathways for pedestrians, cars and emergency vehicles throughout the city.
“As the student population has increased, the amount of traffic on University Drive has increased accordingly,” Cazasres said.
Century Square, the new commercial plaza on University Drive is a project that could alleviate traffic by reducing the need to travel.
“One method of helping the flow of traffic is to redirect it to compact subdivisions or commercial plazas,” Cazasres said.
Civil engineers attempt to keep various services together to reduce the amount an individual will need to drive. Cazasres said conscious efforts are made to develop clinics, grocery stores, restaurants and other everyday commercial establishments together to encourage citizens to walk, rather than take to the streets and add to the traffic.
“All of the services are close together where they reside, so it is easier for them to walk to get what they need,” Cazasres said.
When remodeling new streets, civil engineers keep fire departments in mind, making sure that entrances and intersections are wide enough to accommodate large firetrucks. They also lay blue raised pavement markers in the street to signify that a fire hydrant is nearby, according to Cazasres.
“We want everybody to flow well and be safe,” Greg Rogers, Battalion Chief of the College Station Fire Department, said. “We can’t prepare for everything, but we do everything within our expectations and resources.”
Emergency responders have a beam emitter on the front of their vehicles that can change upcoming stop lights green, and all other directions red to help them along busy streets. The Police and Fire Departments also have an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system that allows dispatchers to direct the nearest emergency responders to the scene.
“As I go through traffic I have to take care with all those people,” Rogers said.
The technology allows CSFD to remain in the 90th percentile across the state for emergency response times at an average of six and a half minutes, according to Rogers. However, the increasing population has made it more difficult to meet the standard, prompting the CSFD to begin development on two more fire stations in the College Station area.
“Station Seven is in a three year process, plus or minus a lot of variables,” Rogers said. “It will be in south College Station.”
While the Police Department uses similar technology, the services they provide vary greatly, increasing the average emergency response time.
“It’s understandable that with an increasing population size our response times would increase. We are doing everything we can with the resources available to us,” Lieutenant Brock of CSPD said.
CSPD ranks high in the nation for lower response times, according to Brock, who said they must continually adapt to rising populations.
“On one hand, we understand that the population is increasing and that will always bring its own challenges,” Rogers said. “But on the other, it keeps us on our feet.”

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