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Regional Collaboration Yields Local, Regional Benefits
Residents' Travel, Population Growth Extend Beyond Traditional Boundaries as Does Planning

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Solutions to Move People, Goods Develop from the Ground Up

The Dallas-Fort Worth area grew by more than 1 million people from 2000-2010, continuing a trend that began decades ago and has made North Texas one of the most sought-after destinations to live and do business. The region regularly adds 1 million or more people each census cycle.

At the center of the growing region is the DFW Connector, an eight-mile expansion and reconstruction project on State Highways 114 and 121 and Interstate Highway 635 north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Construction of the $1.02 billion project, which began in February 2010, will more than double the capacity of the busy corridor, through which approximately 180,000 vehicles travel daily. The DFW Connector represents a geographic, transportation and economic crossroads for this region, not unlike the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s position in the Southwest.

Photo: DFW Connector construction (courtesy NorthGate Constructors)
Photo: NorthGate Constructors

  Traffic traveling through the DFW Connector is largely coming and going from Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties as drivers traverse the region for work and play. With its proximity to DFW Airport, the important roadway project is also a national and international gateway.

Seventeen commercial airlines, six of which are international carriers, serve a total of 184 destinations out of DFW Airport. Within four hours, every major city in the continental US can be accessed by air from DFW Airport, making it convenient for the nearly 154,000 passengers traveling daily through the airport

The DFW Connector is also an important link between the region’s top two foreign trade zones, Alliance Airport and DFW Airport. Each year in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are $38.4 billion in international imports and $21.3 billion in international exports.

Progress North Texas 2011

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When the expansion is complete, benefits of the DFW Connector will stretch beyond the eight-mile project area and the local reduction in congestion. An understanding of the regional importance of the DFW Connector helped to progress the project from idea to implementation thanks to collaboration and partnerships.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments relies on a regional approach to planning to ensure the entire metropolitan area, not just one part of it, continues to realize the benefits of growth and is able to deal with related challenges. When issues arise, they are also confronted with a regional mindset. The DFW Connector is just one example of how cooperation makes the entire region stronger.

Transportation, Air Quality Bottom-line Issues for Every Enterprise

Bernice J. Washington, RTC member and boardmember, DFW International Airport

Photo: Bernice J. Washington

How do you think regionalism, related to transportation and air quality plans, benefits residents?
As a practical matter, it is impossible in a region as large and diverse as ours to address transportation and air quality issues in a piecemeal way.

 

Map: Regional activity distribution of trips using the DFW Connector
The $1.02 billion DFW Connector is a significant piece of North Texas’ long-range congestion-management strategy. This map shows the origins and destinations of the 180,000 or so daily users of the facility north of DFW Airport. When complete, the project will more than double the capacity of the existing corridor.


As a legal matter, federal law requires that we approach these issues regionally. Residents of our communities not only benefit, but they should demand and expect that local officials work together to address transportation and air quality. This is the only way to ensure the quality of life they deserve for themselves and their families.

How do you think regionalism, related to transportation and air quality plans, benefits businesses?
I would argue that transportation and air quality are bottom-line issues for every enterprise in this region. Whether it's securing permits for facility expansions, efficiently moving goods to market or attracting the best employees from across the globe — mobility and environmental concerns are factors in the decisions of companies and their employees. Many businesses recognize this and have adopted innovative approaches to be part of the solution. We need to deepen the breadth of business understanding and support on regional approaches to transportation and air quality.

Why is it important for transportation decision makers to focus on North Texas rather than individual jurisdictions?
Geography, scale and human nature. People choose to live, work and play here because of the abundance of opportunity and choice. Freedom to exercise that choice transcends local political boundaries. In addition, as individual communities chart their destinies and planning decisions, it's essential that they contemplate and participate in the development of regional infrastructure — which benefits their communities and their residents.

DFW International Airport was one of the first regional partnerships. What are some of the other transportation-related regional partnerships, and why do you think they are significant?
The regional partnerships we enjoy in public transportation and surface transportation come to mind. DART is a coalition of 13 member cities and has inter-governmental agreements with FWTA to operate the Trinity Railway Express and the Denton County Transportation Authority to extend rail service across our region. We have a diverse coalition of leaders working on the Cotton Belt. The efforts with NTTA to leverage the State Highway 121 toll road concession payment to support multiple projects was a hallmark of cooperation and innovation. NCTCOG played a valuable role in all these accomplishments.

How can leaders enhance regional collaboration related to transportation in the future?
We need to think not only about the process of collaboration but more importantly the results. Our state and our nation are engaged in a fundamental re-examination of how infrastructure is built and maintained in this country. The outcome of that debate will affect every business and citizen in this region. Increasingly, our destiny will be in our own hands, and I believe our challenge going forward is to create the new business models that will allow this region to meet our transportation needs for the next 100 years.


What's Next:
North Texas Laying Foundation for High Speed Rail

Transportation has been a major factor in the continued expansion of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in recent years.

The region's intricate roadway system and expanding rail network have greatly increased people's choices of where to live, work and play. In the same way, regional lines have been blurred, bringing North Texas closer to neighboring metropolitan areas in Texas and surrounding states.

These regions share many of the same challenges brought about by population growth and economic expansion. And their economies are dependent on one another.

  Table: County population growth

The federal plan to develop high speed rail networks could bring metropolitan areas even closer together, resulting in the creation of large multi-state mega-regions.

North Central Texas Council of Governments planners want to ensure the Dallas-Fort Worth area is prepared for this. NCTCOG is working to establish partnerships with Houston, Austin-San Antonio, east Texas and metropolitan areas in Oklahoma in anticipation of the development of high speed rail and other transportation partnerships that will benefit Texas and its neighbors. Together, these separate regions will be better equipped to meet common challenges and help one another with unique ones.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the opinions, findings, and conclusions presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration or the Texas Department of Transportation. This document was prepared in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Trasnportation, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.

10/31/2016 03/17/2009 JS

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