The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) recently updated Access North Texas through an inclusive planning process relying on local input. The process included the participation of elected officials, local government staff, transit riders, health and human service agencies, educational institutions, and businesses.
Access North Texas is the public transit-human services transportation coordination plan for the 16 counties served by NCTCOG. The plan identifies the transportation needs of older adults, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes. Based on a combination of research, technical analysis and public input, the plan identifies strategies to better serve these vulnerable populations with public transportation.
During the public outreach process, NCTCOG staff polled attendees to gauge how transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft, self-driving vehicles, and other technologies were perceived in their communities.
Some communities saw the potential transportation gap that TNCs could fill while others had concerns about their accessibility. Concerns included vehicle accessibility for individuals using mobility devices and people who don’t own smartphones.
In the updated plan, NCTCOG staff included a new regional strategy that encourages communities to consider non-traditional ways to deliver public transportation, including TNCs. Encouraging TNC service and coordination with transit agencies, where appropriate, will help in the development of their accessibility to all riders.
While Access North Texas is not a funding document, it is used as a guide for agencies that provide transportation services when federal and State funding becomes available. To review the plan, please visit www.accessnorthtexas.org.
Did the check engine light recently appear on your car’s dashboard? The reasons could be numerous, from a simple thing such as a loose gas cap to a more serious — and expensive — issue. Regardless of the problem, it is important to have it checked because your car will not pass the emissions portion of the State inspection until it is repaired. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is partnering with local automotive repair shops to conduct a series of Car Care Clinics in April.
Once again, the focus is on the dreaded check engine light. While you need to have a problem with the light addressed, repairs may cost less than you think. Talk to a mechanic for FREE at one of 12 clinics throughout the region beginning Saturday, April 7 and continuing until April 28. These clinics will provide drivers with an opportunity to talk to a technician about the potential cause the problem and how it may be fixed. Some vehicle owners may qualify for assistance with emissions repairs if they meet certain income requirements.
A NCTCOG staff member will be on hand at select clinics to explain the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program, which allows qualifying motorists to get their vehicles repaired for as little as a $30 copay, so they can pass the emissions inspection. Income and vehicle requirements for the program are available at www.airchecktexas.org. A family of four earning $75,300 or less, for example, is eligible for a repair voucher worth up to $600.
AirCheckTexas is one of many successful programs credited with helping the region improve its air quality over the past several years. Ten Dallas-Fort Worth area counties are in nonattainment for ozone pollution and are working toward compliance with the federal government’s standard. To find a clinic near you, visit www.ntxcarcare.org.
High-speed rail is moving forward across Texas. A series of public hearings were held along the planned Dallas-to-Houston corridor, and comments have been received on that project. The Federal Railroad Administration is now working on responding to them. The hope is to have a record of decision by the end of the year, allowing the project to advance to design and construction.
Elsewhere, NCTCOG is trying to assist Dallas and Fort Worth with the creation of a local government corporation, which would have high-speed rail oversight in the region. Discussions also continue on how to advance high-speed rail from Fort Worth to South Texas. The ultimate result could be a network of high-speed trains providing Texans another safe, efficient way to travel among the State’s major metropolitan areas.
The Federal Highway Administration has announced another round of designations of the Alternative Fuel Corridors. These corridors were established to ensure alternative fuel vehicles can travel on specified roadways that have adequate alternative fuel refueling/charging infrastructure.
In addition to previously awarded interstate highway corridors designated in 2016, the second round added US Highway 75 as a corridor for natural gas, propane, and electric vehicles to the North Texas region.
Based on these corridor designations, drivers from North Texas can have confidence in operating a variety of alternative fuel vehicles to neighboring metropolitan areas.
A third round of corridor designations will occur later in 2018. For a complete map of all designated alternative fuel corridors across the country, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/alternative_fuel_corridors/maps.
Transportation partners interested in sharing information on road closures, major events and traffic signals to make the roads safer and more efficient are invited to apply for grants of up to $25,000 by May 4.
NCTCOG is offering assistance to cities and other transportation partners as part of two initiatives. First, $125,000 is available to encourage the sharing of traffic signal data. This information can be shared with the developer community to support development of connected-vehicle, vehicle-to infrastructure and other intelligent transportation applications in an effort to improve how vehicles communicate. These grant programs also seek to prepare the region for automated vehicles.
Additionally, the Waze Data Sharing Program offers entities that agree to share information on road closures access to real-time data provided by users of the navigation app. Like the traffic signal data project, this grant has $125,000 available for awards.
Ultimately, this information will help build out 511 DFW as a portal for transportation information.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Have jurisdiction over the relevant traffic signals and routes
- NCTCOG, neighboring jurisdictions, transit authorities,Be willing to share their data with outside entities, such as transportation information applications and others
This is the second time NCTCOG has offered such grants. Last year, grants were provided for both programs. The latest round of grants will help entities implement low-cost solutions to improve the reliability of their transportation networks.
NCTCOG staff will present Mobility 2045 draft recommendations, funding initiatives, an air quality update and bicycle opinion survey results during public meetings in April. Residents can provide input on Mobility 2045, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan for Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as several other transportation initiatives at public meetings on April 9 (Garland), April 10 (North Richland Hills) and April 11 (Arlington).
Mobility 2045 will define a long-term vision for the region’s transportation system and guide spending of federal and State transportation funds. This includes funding for highways, transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and other programs that can reduce congestion and improve air quality. The Regional Transportation Council is expected to take action on draft recommendations in June. In addition to developing a Metropolitan Transportation Plan, NCTCOG staff is responsible for assisting with funding initiatives.
The Transportation Improvement Program is a federally and State-mandated list of projects with committed funding for construction or implementation within a four-year period. Staff will present the draft list of projects to be funded between 2019 and 2022.
Staff will also provide proposed modifications to the fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019 Work Program. The UPWP for regional transportation planning provides a summary of transportation and related air quality planning tasks to be conducted by the metropolitan planning organization within a two-year period.
Finally, air quality updates and bicycle opinion survey results will also be presented. Watch the Arlington meeting in real time by clicking the “live” tab at www.nctcog.org/video. A recording of the presentations will also be posted at www.nctcog.org/input.