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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

Do a Little More This Ozone Season to Help Yourself — and Your Neighbors
Unlocking Congestion with Cooperation
      A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Riley Looks to be Resource for Others on Transportation
     Member Profile, Mark Riley, County Judge, Parker County
MAP-21 Funds Programs through 2014
AirCheckTexas Issues Replacements for Limited Time
Annual Transportation Report Available Online, in Print
RTC Meetings Available Online


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Do a Little More This Ozone Season to Help Yourself — and Your Neighbors

Next time you have a short errand to run, consider walking or riding your bike. When it’s too far, try sharing a ride or even opting for mass transit if you can. If you have a fleet of vehicles, you might be better served to use the most fuel-efficient ones to perform specific tasks.

Any of these changes would benefit your bottom line. But they will also help your neighbors. These are among the many adjustments residents and employers are being asked to consider making when ozone reaches unhealthy levels.

Ten North Texas counties are in nonattainment for ozone pollution, meaning the area’s air quality is poorer than the federal government’s allowable limits.

In April, the EPA announced the addition of Wise County to the existing nine-county nonattainment area. The change took effect in July.

 

Photo: Be Air Aware with Air North Texas


Under the previous standard, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant counties were part of the nonattainment area. The region has been designated a “moderate” nonattainment area and has until December 2018 to meet the new standard of 75 parts per billion.

Over the past several years, Dallas-Fort Worth air quality has shown steady improvement, with the region narrowly missing attainment of the former standard of 84 ppb in 2010. But last year’s recordbreaking heat and drought provided ideal conditions for the formation of ozone, and the design value rose from 86 ppb to 90 ppb.

Ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds mix with nitrogen oxides in sunlight. Low winds and other factors also can contribute to poor air quality.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is challenging D-FW area residents, businesses and governments to help the region meet ozone attainment by committing to a variety of strategies that take little effort, but will have a significant cumulative effect.

Air North Texas is asking everyone to Be Air Aware this ozone season. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issues Air Pollution Watches when air pollution is forecast to be unhealthy the next day. Monitor the Air Quality Index and sign up for Air Pollution Watches and Warnings at www.airnorthtexas.org. When a watch is issued for the next day, consider what changes you can make to lessen your impact on air pollution.

Dallas-Fort Worth 8-hour Ozone Nonattainment Area

Photo: Be Air Aware with Air North Texas

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The hope is, with everyone working together, the region will have fewer Air Pollution Warnings, when one or more of the region’s air quality monitors exceed 75 ppb. Individuals, businesses and governments can contribute by choosing from a series of easy to implement strategies.

Some, such as riding mass transit, bicycling and walking, are directly related to transportation. Others, such as postponing mowing, limiting testing of emergency generators and relying on natural light, are not but will still aid the effort. For a full list of ways to help throughout ozone season and beyond, visit www.airnorthtexas.org/2012.asp.

With the help of Air North Texas and its many partners throughout the region, significant improvement is within reach. But it won’t happen overnight – or without the help of the entire area. If employers and residents commit to making changes during high ozone days, the region will move closer to meeting its attainment goal, and its residents will be healthier.


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Unlocking Congestion with Cooperation
A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director


Dallas-Fort Worth is a leader in transportation innovation, a fact that’s being demonstrated with numerous projects implemented by Texas Department of Transportation, North Texas Tollway Authority, the transportation authorities and cities and counties. The region’s comprehensive development agreements are advancing the North Tarrant Express, LBJ Express and State Highway 183, which will improve travel through the area’s most congested corridors.

The DFW Connector is well on its way to improving traffic flow near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport thanks in part to a design-build arrangement. A public-private partnership to finance passenger rail in the Cotton Belt corridor will bring service to a 62-mile stretch from southwest Fort Worth to the DART Red Line area much faster than by relying on traditional funding methods.

The North Texas Tollway Authority is completing SH 161 and Chisholm Trail Parkway. Dallas Area Rapid Transit has opened the nation’s longest light rail project with work on a line to DFW Airport under way. The first segment of the Orange Line opened in July.

The Denton County Transportation Authority recently began service with new Federal Railroad Administration-compliant rail cars.

This is just a small sample of what’s being done to improve mobility in our region.

  Photo (From DCTA): rail vehicle

Billions of dollars in projects are under way as we continue to pursue opportunities that will allow us to meet the needs of a population that will only keep growing. For the past several decades, our population has increased at a rate of a million or more people every 10 years. This rate is projected to continue between now and 2035, as the metropolitan area is forecast to welcome more than 3 million residents. This will bring our current population of 6.5 million up to about 10 million. This significant influx of people presents transportation issues that must be dealt with carefully if we are to maintain a robust economy and enhance quality of life.

As we grow, so will our influence on the national economy. Among our many transportation assets, one stands alone in its significance to the rest of the US: Interstate Highway 35. Serving as a North American Free Trade Agreement corridor, IH 35 is also one of the most congested roadways in the state.

Photo (Thinkstock): traffic congestion

 

 

Both IH 35W and IH 35E will benefit from a recent decision by the Texas Transportation Commission to allocate additional money to projects throughout the state. From the $1.9 billion that will be added to projects, the Dallas-Fort Worth area will get $500 million.

The Transportation Commission in June approved the allocation of this additional money to both IH 35W and IH 35E, State Highway 183 in Irving and Loop 9 in southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties. IH 35E was awarded $314 million, while IH 35W gets an additional $130 million. This money came from federal and state funds, as well as savings realized from projects costing less to build during these slow economic times. This additional shot in the arm is welcome news to a state that needs more revenue to unlock congested roadways.

We will spend $101.1 billion through 2035 to improve mobility. That’s a significant investment, but it’s far short of what is needed for our dynamic region. It is estimated that eliminating the worst congestion would cost a staggering $395.3 billion.

One way we hope to find lower-cost solutions is by efficiently maintaining and operating our current system. The Transportation Commission is providing us between $3 million and $5 million a year over the next two years to try some imaginative solutions. But construction will continue to be the most visible way we deal with our mobility problem.

On the west side, IH 35W from downtown Fort Worth to the Alliance Airport area has been one of the busiest corridors in the region. The portion of the project that received additional funding extends from downtown to Loop 820. The entire project, which continues north to near Alliance Airport, will feature a mix of general-purpose lanes and tolled HOV/managed lanes. It is part of the multi-highway makeover known as the North Tarrant Express.

In addition to the $130 million provided by this latest infusion, the federal government has awarded a $415 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan. IH 35E in Denton County also is in desperate need of expansion. The $1 billion-plus primary phase of the project will include two reversible HOV/managed lanes, a general-purpose lane in each direction, improvements to the Lewisville Lake bridge, frontage road upgrades and a collector-distributor ramp system between the President George Bush Turnpike and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.

These changes are a positive step in the journey toward a more reliable IH 35. Combined with the statewide effort to get traffic flowing along the entire IH 35 corridor, the D-FW changes promise to make both travel and commerce a little easier.

There is certainly more to be accomplished, but we now have the funding needed to make a significant contribution to increased mobility along one of the state’s biggest bottlenecks. We will build on this progress. And we’ll do it with the cooperation of our great partners. After all … mobility matters – and happens through partnerships.

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Photo: Rob Franke, Mayor, City of Cedar Hill

Riley Looks to be Resource for Others on Transportation
Member Profile - Mark Riley, County Judge, Parker County

Mark Riley wears many hats as county judge of Parker County. He presides over Commissioners Court, proposes a budget every year, performs several judicial responsibilities that his counterparts in larger counties don’t have to and is in charge of the county’s emergency management services.

Then, there’s transportation, which in recent years has taken up more of the four-term judge’s time. In 2008, Parker County voters approved an $80 million bond issue to fund projects around the county intended to improve mobility.

Riley estimates that between overseeing the bond program and his responsibilities as a member of the Regional Transportation Council, he spends 16-20 hours a week on transportation. He has been a member of the RTC since 2009. He represents Parker and Wise counties, and the cities of Weatherford, Azle, Decatur and Bridgeport.

On a recent morning, he took time out to show off a section of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway currently under construction.

The highway is named for the late chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, also a longtime state representative from Weatherford. When the entire road is complete, it will serve as a western loop around Weatherford, linking Farm-to-Market 51 with Interstate Highway 20 and diverting many motorists around downtown. The first segment, from FM 51 to FM 920, is now open. The second phase, extending to US Highway 180, is expected to open this summer. All projects could be completed by 2014.

  Riley said it is rewarding to see the 43-member RTC come together to solve problems, regardless of whether they are on the east or west side. “This region is much more successful than other regions across the state because of that partnership,” he said. “Everyone on the RTC has that same vision.”

The projects are progressing well, Riley said, in part because of the county’s decision of how to manage the bond. Riley and the Parker County commissioners have received monthly updates on the progress of the bond projects, which he believes have helped save taxpayers money.

Parker County’s population was 118,860 January 1, according to figures released by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, up slightly from the official Census 2010 number of 116,927. Much of Parker County remains rural, but it will continue to grow, especially as Fort Worth creeps in from the east. And policymakers, no matter what area they represent, understand the RTC’s decisions will improve the entire region and lead to sustained economic viability, he said.

Riley said it is rewarding to see the 43-member RTC come together to solve problems, regardless of whether they are on the east or west side. “This region is much more successful than other regions across the state because of that partnership,” he said. “Everyone on the RTC has that same vision.”

The bond issue was challenging, but Riley and his colleagues had the RTC to lean on and ask questions about elements they were trying to figure out.

Before the bond was organized and put on the ballot, aided by a $200,000 RTC loan, Parker County officials met with Tarrant County leaders to discuss what had worked well in their county and what they would have done differently.

Riley understands now that he has experience with a multimillion-dollar bond program, he must do the same for leaders of other counties who seek his advice.

“I think that’s important, and that’s how it’s done in this region,” Riley said. “It’s not about me. … I just have to be the one who takes the lead for the county because you can’t have six people doing it.”

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Parker County
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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.

10/17/2016  03/17/2009 JS

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