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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

Finding Transportation Priorities Key to New Regional Plan
Do Your Share for Cleaner Air
    A Message from Michael Morris, P.E., Director of Transportation

TxDOT Engineer Sees Cooperation of Region as Key to Transportation Success
    Member Profile, Brian Barth, P.E., District Engineer, TxDOT-Fort Worth District

Legislature Approves Funding for Roads
NCTCOG, Clean Cities Working Toward Clean Fleets


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Finding Transportation Priorities Key to New Regional Plan 

The population of North Texas is projected to surpass 10 million residents before 2040, continuing a growth trend the region has seen for nearly 40 years. As more people move to the area, traffic congestion will increase, straining the region’s roadways and likely causing motorists to consider alternatives to the typical rush-hour commute.

Finding the right balance between different modes and transportation solutions is one of the challenges planners have in developing Mobility 2040, which will become the new long-range transportation plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The most recent demographic forecasts estimate the region has grown to 6.9 million people, boasting a population of about 600,000 more than recorded by the 2010 census.

In recent years, several rail and bicycle-pedestrian projects have helped increase the number of choices North Texans have for traveling between work, home, school, and shopping and entertainment areas. And, innovative neighborhood developments, highway express lanes, and carpooling and vanpooling options show that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is already thinking creatively.

Over the past decade, officials have stated the need for increased transportation funding as state and federal gas tax revenues have diminished due to inflation. This uncertainty about funding has made it difficult for planners trying to balance the benefits of new system capacity with the need for maintenance. However, with the passage of Proposition 1 in 2014 and the possibility of additional voter-approved revenues this fall, roadway funding for Mobility 2040 should be greater than for previous long-range plans. Planners are working to determine the full impact of this legislation.

 

Projects funded through Mobility 2035, the most recent long-range transportation plan, have helped increase system capacity. Since its approval by the Regional Transportation Council in 2011, transportation partners have completed several major project recommendations, including Denton County Transportation Authority’s A-train, the Chisholm Trail Parkway, Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Orange Line to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and nearly all of the DFW Connector project.

Infographic: A growing region

As the region’s transportation blueprint, Mobility 2040 is seeking to build on that progress by providing people with more options than ever for traveling in North Texas. Developing the region’s multimodal options is especially important for Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties, where 85 percent of new growth is projected to occur. By understanding the challenges that rising congestion levels present, North Texans can begin the discussion about ways to address them.

 

Planners see a variety of potential solutions that could help the region’s congestion challenges in the future, but they need to hear from the public about their transportation priorities for the funds that are projected to be available.

Public involvement efforts for Mobility 2040 began in late March at spring outreach events. Since then, hundreds of residents have completed a survey asking about their preferences and priorities for transportation in Dallas-Fort Worth. The survey is available at www.nctcog.org/survey2040. Paper copies will be provided upon request.

NCTCOG held a public meeting in June to formally announce that Mobility 2040 development had begun. Planners are encouraging residents to submit their comments by September to ensure their full consideration in the planning process.

Take the Mobility 2040 Survey

Establishing North Texans’ transportation priorities on the brink of so much change is necessary for mapping the region’s multimodal future. Rapid growth has brought economic vitality to the region, and providing transportation choices to serve different travel needs will help North Texans navigate the increased congestion that comes with such an influx of people. By working with the public, local governments, transportation partners and other regional agencies, NCTCOG will develop long-term recommendations for a transportation system that can serve North Texas in the future.


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Do Your Share for Cleaner Air 
A Message from Michael Morris, P.E., Director of Transportation

Air Quality and transportation are inextricably linked in Dallas-Fort Worth, a region trying for years to meet the federal government’s standard on ozone pollution.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments coordinates daily with its transportation partners to continue the development of a world-class transportation system while maintaining a keen eye on the air we breathe. The sum of all our transportation investments must demonstrate our assistance in the meeting o this standard.

So in addition to planning for long-term needs, NCTCOG, with the assistance of a dedicated staff of experts, has implemented plans, programs and policies to ensure ozone levels can continue improving while the recommendations in the transportation plans are carried out. 

There’s an additional piece to this puzzle – you. Our Air North Texas program shows you and your neighbors the power many people working together to accomplish a goal. Despite all the progress made in recent years toward attaining the federal ozone standard, complying with the standard will require contributions from throughout the region. It’s not something one person can accomplish alone.

Small changes can have an enormous effect when enough people get behind an idea. And change is contagious. When one person makes a choice for clean air, it’s easier for his or her friends and family to follow.

On June 26, the first Friday of summer, the NCTCOG Transportation Department challenged individuals, businesses and governments to take our air quality into their hands and make decisions that would help lead to a cleaner North Texas. This effort is in its sixth year and continues to gain tremendous momentum.

There are some 20 example contributions you can make as an individual. While individuals, businesses and governments can all provide invaluable assistance, I want to focus on what you can do.

It is the people, after all, who make the businesses and governments work.

  Clean Air Action Day

In this region, the vast majority of commuters drive alone. We are building a rail system that will provide you and your neighbors another option. When the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s TEX Rail passenger rail service pulls into DFW Airport for the first time in 2018, DFW will boast 180 miles of passenger rail connecting people to employment, education and recreation al options in four counties. This is a significant accomplishment considering there were no passenger rail options until 1996.

Transit is an efficient, low-stress way for many to move around the region. It is a tremendous option where it is available, allowing passengers to be more productive during their commutes. But rail is not right for every corridor across the region. We understand that. 

Here is a look at just a few other alternatives that can save commuters time and money, while helping the region move closer to ozone attainment.

 

Carpooling: Commuters who live close to their coworkers can share a ride to the office. Tryparkingit.com, the region’s alternative-commute website, will help them locate potential matches who may or may not work in the same building. Several park-and-ride lots throughout the region allow people who need to get to work or special events to share rides, even if they don’t live near each other. The newest is a lot at Interstate highway 30 and Belt Line Road in Grand Prairie.

 

Telecommuting: Rapidly changing technology is making it possible for people to work at home, in coffee shops and other remote locations in the region or around the world. This saves employees time and money, and can prove significantly less stressful.

 

Active transportation: Another option that could substantially reduce miles driven is bicycling or walking to work. If this seems too daunting a task in a region with 7 million residents, remember that our three transit agencies welcome bicycles on board. 

 

Fuel efficiency: For those unable to ride share, a more fuel efficient vehicle may be the way to go. Electric, hybrid and natural gas vehicles are just a few of the choices. And all are increasingly becoming viable as technology continues its rapid advancement. And data from the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition indicates this is more than just a fad. Last year alone, some 22 million gallons of fuel were saved by stakeholders who participated in DFW Clean Cities’ annual reporting.

 

June 26 has come and gone. But it’s just the beginning. If you were among the individuals or businesses who participated in the event, thank you for taking the time to make a decision for the good of your neighbors. Please remember to record your commitment at AirNorthTexas.org. For those of you who have not changes, give it a try. In addition, tell us your ways to reduce ozone-forming pollutants. After all … mobility and air quality matter.


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Photo: Brian Barth, P.E., District Enginner, Texas Department of Transportation-Fort Worth District

TxDOT Engineer Sees Cooperation of Region as Key to Transportation Success
Member Profile - Brian Barth, P.E., District Enginner, Texas Department of Transportation-Fort Worth District

Brian Barth knew from an early age he wanted to be around highways. The son of a contractor, Barth worked for his dad building highways. He soon learned that, although he liked transportation, he wanted to be involved in another side of it.


Barth, who grew up in El Paso, had his eye on designing highways. So he went to school to study engineering at the University of Texas at Austin to receive knowledge necessary to begin following that dream. There was one organization that would give him the exposure he wanted to that side of the business – the Texas Department of Transportation.

Upon graduation, Barth was offered the same position in Houston and Dallas, and chose North Texas because his brother was a student at Southern Methodist University.

Today, he serves as Fort Worth District Engineer, leading a staff in charge of planning, designing, building and maintaining the state highway system in a nine county area encompassing the western half of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Since September 2013, Barth has been a member of the Regional Transportation Council, the 44-member policy board in charge of dispersing transportation funds to the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Barth has had a hand in countless projects significant to mobility on both sides of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Currently, the biggest is the Interstate Highway 30/State Highway 360 interchange, a $250 million project that will result in freer-flowing traffic in Arlington. It will affect almost everyone, he said.

 

“It’s at the center of the Metroplex,” he said. It’s in Tarrant County, but I’d say the entire Metroplex benefits because everyone drives that at some point.”

 

Dallas-Fort Worth is unique in Texas in that it contains two metropolitan TxDOT districts. Still, the members of RTC understand the importance of being united, putting the interests of the region ahead of theirs.

“We’re stronger as a team than we are separate,” he said. “If you can’t be on the same page on priorities in the region, it’s going to be difficult to convince others to help fund [projects] at home.”

 

Barth has been involved in numerous multimillion-dollar projects on both sides of the region that have ultimately been delivered through the cooperation of many transportation partners. Asked what he is proudest of, he said: “The West Seventh Street Bridge.”

 

The $26 million project opened in 2012 as a key east-west connection providing access to downtown Fort Worth. Replacing a historic structure was challenging. Transportation partners wanted to keep the existing structure, but after 100 years, the decision was made to replace it.

 

Barth was proud of the project, billed as the world’s first pre-cast network arch bridge, because the award-winning design was provide by a TxDOT bridge division employee and enjoyed overwhelming public support.

The West Seventh Street bridge was originally built in 1913, so it had enough historical significance that efforts were made to keep elements of the original structure. But the bridge had reached the end of its life. In its place was a bridge that brought many facets of the community together. From the city to Historic Fort Worth to the builders of the bridge, cooperation was a key to the success of the project.  

 

People were so excited for the bridge to open that they lined up to be among the first to cross. Drivers were honking and waiving with excitement, waiting to cross the new bridge, an enthusiastic response that made an impression on Barth.

 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

 

Although the original bridge was replaced, the project led to something that could help preserve decades-old structures in the future TxDOT developed a maintenance plan to keep up its bridges. And it is already being used on projects such as the Main Street bridge north of downtown.

 

Just as cooperation helped TxDOT replace a historic bridge, it defines the work done by the RTC. There is debate – and many times, it is passionate – but members have a true interest in doing what is best for the region, he said.

 

“I’m not sure you see that in other parts of the state,” he said.

 

As far as the region has come, it is important to continue cooperating to accomplish things, he said.

Work done by Barth and others before him will help make the road to a larger North Texas smoother.

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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  

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