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Mobility Matters - Images of a freight truck traveling on a highway, downtown Fort Worth, a TRE locomotive, downtown Dallas skyline and highway traffic; Celebrating 35 Years of Regional Transportation Excellence, 1974 - 2009
Winter/Spring 2010 — Quarterly newsletter of the Metropolitan Planning Organization

Region Seeks Opinions on Transportation Priorities
Roads to the Super Bowl - A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director
Medrono Works to Educate Region of Count's Importance - RTC Member Profile
Dallas-Fort Worth Planning Area Expands to 12 Counties
9-County Nonattainment Area Could Be Reclassified By EPA
2 Local Projects Awarded TIGER Discretionary Funds


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Dallas-Fort Worth Planning Area Expanded to 12 Counties
FWTAexas Transportation Commission in October approved the RTC’s decision to expand the metropolitan planning area, adding three new counties to the existing nine-county area. With the boundary change, Hood, Hunt and Wise counties have been fully integrated into the regional transportation planning process. The perimeter counties that had been partially included – Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman and Parker counties – are also now entirely included.

The 43-member Regional Transportation Council is now able to help 12 counties solve their transportation problems, directing funding to the 9,441 square-mile region. The increases in population and travel are expected to attract $10 million more per year in federal gas taxes to what is now the nation’s second-largest planning area. Only the Southern California Association of Governments, which includes Los Angeles, is responsible for a larger area.

NCTCOG began considering expansion of the nine-county metropolitan planning area in the fall of 2007.

Federal regulations require the metropolitan planning area to encompass the entire urbanized area and the contiguous areas expected to become urbanized within 20 years. With rapid population growth over the past several years, it became necessary to add to the planning area.

The expansion discussions began with the assessment of 28 counties in North Texas.

12-County Metropolitan Planning Area map

After considering jurisdictional and regulatory issues, officials decided it would be prudent to include only counties inside the North Central Texas Council of Governments' 16-county region. Evaluation of population forecasts, current and future population density estimates, travel pattern information and traffic forecasts supported the expansion.

NCTCOG staff presented the plan to residents and public officials throughout the 12-county area for comments. In addition, staff participated in numerous county and city government meetings between December 2007 and July 2009. Throughout the public outreach process, positive comments were received from the public and local elected officials regarding the expansion.

Existing and funded transportation projects in the expanded metropolitan planning area were incorporated into the region’s short- and long-range transportation plans. Since these transportation projects were already included in the rural portion of the State Transportation Improvement Program, there were no financial-constraint implications to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area Transportation Improvement Program or long-range mobility plan. Air quality is not impacted because projects were accounted for in the air quality conformity analysis performed in conjunction with the Transportation Improvement Program and Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

The Regional Transportation Council’s Bylaws and Operating Procedures were modified in September 2008 to accommodate representation across the 12-county planning area in anticipation of the boundary expansion. Membership on the RTC is capped at 43 members.

In conjunction with the planning area expansion, the Regional Transportation Council on October 8 adopted a policy position on the efficient and effective agency delivery of projects in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. This policy recognizes the rights of all entities under state law and emphasizes the RTC’s support for the advancement and implementation of projects and programs contained in the plan in the most efficient and effective delivery method to maximize revenues for construction and operation.

The RTC hopes the transportation needs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area can be met in a timely manner by existing transportation authorities and transportation providers through a comprehensive, coordinated and cooperative approach to maximize existing transportation resources. If they cannot, other institutional arrangements may be necessary, and the individual entities in the metropolitan area have the authority to make that determination. The Regional Transportation Council encourages those entities to collaborate with the RTC and the existing providers to assess their ability to assist.

Dallas-Fort Worth area planners and local governments are busy developing strategies for how to enhance the quality of life for residents with a variety of needs and expectations. The expanded planning area will go a long way toward making sure the residents of the outlying areas have the same assistance as their urban neighbors.


Results of Technical Evaluation and Summary of Public Outreach Process for the Metropolitan Planning Area
      Boundary Expansion
Regional Transportation Council
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9-County Nonattainment Area Could Be Reclassified By EPA
The nine-county ozone nonattainment area could be reclassified from moderate to serious after narrowly missing the federal standard in 2009.

photo of a young boy sitting on an older man's shoulders with blue sky in the background

NCTCOG Air Quality Programs
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When the ozone season ended October 31, the region’s ozone concentration was 86 parts per billion, just one part per billion short of compliance. To put this in perspective, one part per billion is roughly equal to one teaspoon of a substance put in an olympic-size swimming pool.

The Environmental Protection Agency in 2004 classified the counties – Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant – as moderate nonattainment for ozone, finding them in violation of the current 8-hour ozone standard. The region was given until June 2010 to reach the standard.

But attainment is determined by looking at a three-year snapshot of ozone season data, meaning North Texas had to comply with the standard by the end of last year.

Ozone data from 2007-09 indicate that the region will not be in compliance before the deadline. As EPA considers a reclassification of the entire nonattainment area, it must propose action by June, with final action due by December 2010. By 2011, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must submit to EPA a revised State Implementation Plan, which establishes regulations to help an area meet federal standards.

Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties were once classified as serious under the 1-hour ozone standard and still maintain strategies required by the Clean Air Act for such areas. And the perimeter counties (Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker and Rockwall) have already implemented some of these same strategies. But additional measures may be required.

At a minimum, the Clean Air Act -mandated federal ozone measures for serious classification would extend to the remainder of the nonattainment area. The North Central Texas Council of Governments staff is working with state and federal partners to determine the full impact to the region.

In a separate development, the recently revised ozone standards could be toughened again in an effort to better protect Americans’ health.

Every five years EPA is required to re-evaluate the nation’s air quality standards to ensure adequate protection of human health based on best available science. In March 2008, EPA revised the 8-hour ozone standard from 85 ppb to 75 ppb.

TCEQ recommended 10 counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be designated as nonattainment. This included the current ozone nonattainment counties and Hood County.

EPA announced in September that it would reconsider the revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard (75 ppb) for ground-level ozone due to concerns about the ability of the new standard to adequately protect Americans’ health. The reconsideration will be based on the scientific and technical analysis used in the initial revision of the standard, which recommended a threshold between 60 and 70 ppb.

EPA is expected to issue a final decision by August 2010. When the standard is finalized, TCEQ and EPA will begin an accelerated review and issue final designations for counties falling short of the standard by August 2011.

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2 Local Projects Awarded TIGER Discretionary Funds
When the federal government announced the recipients of TIGER grant money in February, two North Texas projects had made the cut. State Highway 161 received $20 million, and the planned downtown Dallas streetcar project got $23 million.

Recovery Act Logos

NCTCOG Economic Recovery Efforts
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The money, part of the $1.5 billion Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant program, will make it easier to complete these projects, deemed significant to the future of the region. These were the only TIGER projects selected in Texas.

The grants were part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a key focus of which was transportation. North Texas received more than $850 million to help deliver shovel-ready projects.

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Mobility Matters is prepared in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration. 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.

4/24/2018  03/17/2009 JS %Arc

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