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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

Green Line Opening Blazes New Trail for Many Commuters
Super Bowl Transportation Plan Helps Fans Navigate Frozen Region
      A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Transportation Council Chair Natinsky Embraces Innovation as Path to Transportation Progress
     Member Profile, Ron Natinsky, Chair, Regional Transportation Council
On-Street Bicycle Facilities in Dallas' Transportation Future
Publications Explain Aviation's Importance to North Texas
How Would You Improve Transportation?

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Green Line Opening Blazes New Trail for Many Commuters

The bright yellow train rolled out of Buckner Station, a structure with a color scheme and architecture hinting at the area’s rich railroad history, zipping its way toward another rail stop at Lake June, itself painting a picture of the area’s past.

Lake June’s focal point is the area’s agrarian roots, and with each stop on the progression toward Carrollton, more history is revealed.

Buckner is the southernmost stop on Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s new 28-mile Green Line, which opened December 6 and provides service from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton.

On this day, the train carried media members from the neighborhoods of southern Dallas, north through downtown, past Dallas Love Field before continuing to Farmers Branch and Carrollton. With the Green Line, the vision of the transit agency, founded in 1983, is beginning to be realized. But its work is far from complete.

 

Map: DART Green Line Stations

In June, the Green Line will meet the Denton County Transportation Authority’s A-Train in Carrollton. This 21-mile commuter line was built with the help of $200 million from the upfront payment the region received for construction of State Highway 121. The 21-mile A-Train line will allow people as far north as Denton to hook into the DART rail system, providing them access to a growing passenger rail network stretching from the heart of the region to the suburbs.

Photo: Walnut Hill Station
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Dallas Area Rapid Transit
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The Green Line was funded by a combination of the one-cent sales tax contributed by the agency’s 13 member cities and federal grants.

To secure the money from the federal government, DART relied on the travel –modeling expertise of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The Regional transportation Council worked closely with DART on computer simulations necessary to obtain a $700 million federal grant. DART needed to prove ridership would be high enough to justify the investment. Ridership, modeling and trip time all played key roles, and NCTCOG was an essential part of that process, DART President and CEO Gary Thomas said.


The Green Line is one more piece of the transportation puzzle that will be necessary as the region’s expansion continues.

In the coming years, DART will open its Blue Line extension to Rowlett and the Orange Line to Irving and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) is developing the Tarrant Express, or TEX, rail line, which will meet DART at DFW Airport. This rail extension is part of the 62-mile Cotton Belt.

When these planned rail enhancements are complete, Dallas-Fort Worth will have one of the most impressive systems in the nation connecting north, south, east and west by light and commuter rail. And while roads will still be counted on to move most people, there will be more choices for how to travel to points within the region.

The train pulled into North Carrollton, the end of the line for now. But soon, passengers will leave the station traveling north. And with those first trains to Denton, DART’s, DCTA's — and the region’s — transit dreams will be closer to reality.

Clarification: The Denton County Transportation Authority’s A-Train connects with Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Green Line at the DART Trinity Mills Station. An article in the spring 2011 issue of Mobility Matters was unclear about where the two rail lines meet.


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Super Bowl Transportation Plan Helps Fans Navigate Frozen Region
A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Winter in North Texas is anything but predictable. It can be sunny and 70 degrees or icy and bone-chillingly cold.

As we welcomed some 250,000 visitors for February’s Super Bowl XLV, the region was hit by a fierce ice storm and the coldest temperatures witnessed here in years. The highly unusual storm made travel to and within the region more difficult than usual. But throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, we were confident in our ability to move our guests in addition to the residents who count on our multimodal transportation system every day. We had a plan and executed it with precision. 

A few highlights:

  • More than 600 Texas Department of Transportation and North Texas Tollway Authority employees worked throughout the week to treat icy roads.

  • Four hundred pieces of equipment were used to de-ice Dallas-Fort Worth roads.

  • Some 3.2 million pounds of granular magnesium chloride and 34,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride were applied to roads to make them passable.

  • Local cities, transportation agencies and other partners rose to the challenge throughout the week to meet demand at several events that broke attendance records.

 

Super Bowl XLV Update

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North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee
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A multitude of transportation and law enforcement partners worked for four years to develop this plan, capable of handling two significant weather events at once. It’s a good thing we prepared so thoroughly because just two days before the Super Bowl, the region was hit with several inches of snow on top of the ice from earlier in the week.

Still, attendance at the game and many of the surrounding events was stellar. Thanks to the TxDOT led weather plan, the transportation system remained reliable throughout a week of more than 240 events. The transportation plan consisted of much more than bad-weather contingencies.

To accommodate the visitors in town for the Super Bowl, we had to develop a strategy that relied on all our assets from roads and rail to the more than 400 aviation facilities in North Texas. The coordination with local governments, the Host Committee and the NFL was remarkable. The transportation plan brought together TxDOT, transit agencies and area cities and counties to establish relationships that will not only help us as we pursue future events, but lead to more effective partnerships every day.

Graphic: Super Bowl XLV transit pass

 

The special four-day transit pass that provided unlimited public transportation access to fans and commuters was a huge hit. Game day traffic on the Trinity Railway Express was more than twice the forecast, as about 4,000 people arrived at Cowboys Stadium via the buses at the CentrePort Station. FWTARE set records for ridership throughout the week, carrying 9,088 riders Saturday, February 5. A new permitting system allowed 2,000 limousines to operate in the region with one permit, without having to seek clearance in separate cities.

Local governments shared technology to improve the reliability of the roads throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Public outreach and publicity were important parts of the effort to make sure people were left with a positive impression of Dallas-Fort Worth. The transportation section of the Host Committee website provided information to help visitors and residents get to Cowboys Stadium and other National Football League events, as well as ride public transportation, navigate traffic and operate for-hire vehicles such as limousines and shuttles.

Aircraft flyovers in the Interstate Highway 30 corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth showcased the region’s aviation partners. Regional helicopter operators, a vintage DC-3 aircraft and military jets all showed off their capabilities in the skies of North Texas. Because Dallas-Fort Worth does not have direct access to a sea port, aviation has played a crucial role in the development of the economy and will undoubtedly prove essential to continued growth.

Every detail of  the Super Bowl transportation plan was meticulously crafted by dedicated partners throughout the region. It was this dedication that helped the region respond so skillfully to potentially crippling winter storms and prove the Dallas-Fort Worth transportation system can handle even the most high-profile of  challenges. After all, mobility matters...

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Transportation Council Chair Natinsky Embraces Innovation as Path to Transportation Progress
Member Profile - Ron Natinsky, Chair, Regional Transportation Council

Photo: Ron Natinsky, Chair, Regional Transportation Council

In an age of scarce funding at the state and federal levels, North Texas faces many challenges in its effort to build a transportation system that will meet the long-range needs of its residents. But that doesn’t mean problems won’t be addressed.

Tell Dallas City Councilmember Ron Natinsky something is out of each, and chances are he’ll start explaining the reasons it can become reality.

When he was named chair of the City Council's economic development committee, he began looking at reasons people would consider relocating to Dallas. The cost of doing business, air quality and political climate were all near the top of people’s lists. So is transportation. People don’t want to sit in traffic for hours every day. If they have a multimodal transportation system, they can make their own choices. For some, rail is the answer. For others, it might be an improvement to a major roadway that could reduce commuting time.

Natinsky, currently serving as chair of the Regional Transportation Council, is a problem-solver who wants to operate in an environment where people accomplish things.

“I don’t want to hear why we’re not going to  get it done,” he said.

On this day, he came from a meeting on the Cotton Belt, a project he believes will redefine the way the region – and nation – build rail lines. He is proud that the Cotton Belt has transformed from a line two transit agencies were trying to build to a regional public-private partnership.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, with the help of a consultant, is examining funding mechanisms in an effort to construct the 62-mile line, which would run from southwest Fort Worth to the Plano/Richardson area.

“It appears we’re on a path to be successful,” Natinsky said of the region's Cotton Belt effort.

 

The biggest challenge the region faces is to continue being innovative. Dallas-Fort Worth has embraced public-private partnerships to build roadways that otherwise would have been put off for years.

“You’ve got to have a balance because you can’t just pave the region over,” he said.

It takes a multimodal approach.

"In Dallas, we went through a period where we didn’t build sidewalks because we didn’t think people would walk,” he said.

In recent years, that has changed, with planners making bicycle pedestrian access a significant part of current and future development proposals.

For example, the Dallas Bike Plan, which the Dallas City Council could adopt this spring, is proposing more than 550 miles of on-street bicycle facilities. This is not the only area where transportation philosophies have evolved. For years, post-World War II America had the idea that people without cars were poor. That’s different from other parts of the world, where buses and other forms of public transportation are the norm, said Natinsky, who travels internationally extensively.

He believes the shift that is occurring – where old is new again – is generational, allowing the US to look at public transportation in a new light. One possible beneficiary of this change is high speed surface transportation.

It will take a new mindset, one that values innovation, to get high-speed rail built, he said. A private-sector model might be the most effective way to introduce faster train service. It won’t be accomplished with the current, highly subsidized model because, he said, high speed rail will require close to full-fare recovery.

“We’re in the middle of changing the way we do business from a transportation perspective,” he said. When combined with the different approach to financing projects, this change in philosophy could help the region maintain its momentum in good times and bad – and result in a transportation system that enhances quality of life.

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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.

10/18/2016 03/17/2009 JS

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