Local Motion - July 2017

RTC awards $34 million for bike-pedestrian projects

Projects intended to help students across the Dallas-Fort Worth area ride their bicycles or walk to school more safely received a significant boost from the Regional Transportation Council recently.
The RTC allocated $12.2 million to 22 Safe Routes to School projects in June. The projects range from sidewalks and crosswalks to bicycle-pedestrian trails providing better access to schools.
An additional $22 million was awarded to 12 Active Transportation projects, consisting mainly of shared-use paths and on-street bike lanes. In all, 34 projects spanning 16 communities and eight North Texas counties received a total of $34.2 million through the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program Call for Projects.
The entities awarded funding will contribute $12.4 million in local match, bringing the total investment in the region’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities to $46.6 million.
Projects providing enhanced regional connectivity, as well as connections to schools, large employment centers and transit stations were prioritized during the evaluation and scoring of 61 applications submitted to the call for projects.
The money for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program was provided through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
Phase 2 of the Trinity Strand Trail in west Dallas, a 1.5-mile extension, and the Dallas Road Transit-Oriented Development Corridor/Cotton Belt Trail in Grapevine were each allocated the maximum $5 million. A list of approved projects, the funding they were awarded and a map of their locations are available at www.nctcog.org/tap.

Smoking Vehicle Program making a difference in region’s air quality

Ever see a vehicle emitting excessive amounts of smoke on the road?
You can do something about it, and your action could help the region breathe easier. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is celebrating 10 years of administering the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program, one of several efforts aimed at improving air quality in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Commonly known as RSVP, the program is designed to inform motorists whose vehicles may be emitting excessive smoke from the tailpipe and help them address the issue. With 10 counties in ozone nonattainment, RSVP allows North Texans to take an active role in the effort to meet the federal standard.
Driving a vehicle with excessive smoke from the tailpipe in Texas is a violation of the state's Smoking Vehicle Statute, which defines a smoking vehicle as one that emits smoke for 10 or more consecutive seconds and/or whose suspended smoke does not fully dissipate within 10 seconds. If you see a vehicle smoking from the tailpipe for a prolonged period of time, you have two primary ways to anonymously report it. 

Since 2007, when NCTCOG assumed responsibility for the program in North Texas from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, more than 40,000 reports of smoking vehicles have been received, with the majority of reports submitted online.
While the phone is a viable option and can result in more accurate reports, it is important that people practice good driving habits and refrain from reporting vehicles while behind the wheel.
Each owner of a vehicle reported for belching excessive pollutants receives a letter and brochure explaining the time and location his or her vehicle was reported, possible causes of the incident, and potential solutions.
Some motorists receiving letters could be eligible to receive assistance with vehicle repair or replacement through the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program.
AirCheckTexas helps North Texans who meet the income criteria by providing vouchers of up to $600 to fix emissions-related problems and up to $3,500 to replace their aging vehicles. Income and vehicle requirements are available at www.airchecktexas.org.  

Record number of residents take action for cleaner air

On June 23, more than 1,100 North Texans took steps toward improving air quality in support of Air North Texas’ annual clean air event, Clean Air Action Day. This made 2017 the most successful year for the event to date.
On Clean Air Action Day, Air North Texas encourages North Texans to make choices that contribute toward reduced emissions and better air quality and log their choices at www.airnorthtexas.org/cleanairactionday.
This year, the most popular clean air actions were taking lunch to work or summer activities, confirming vehicle maintenance and inspections are up to date and buying locally or at places where less driving is required.
In addition, the June 23 Surface Transportation Technical Committee meeting offered a remote option in support of Clean Air Action Day and garnered great participation, as 34 members participated via their computers instead of driving to the meeting.
Mark your calendar for next year’s Clean Air Action Day – June 22, 2018, and consider incorporating simple clean air actions into your routine year-round. Get ideas at www.airnorthtexas.org/individuals.

Cedar Hill Mayor Franke elected RTC chair

Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke will preside over the Regional Transportation Council for the next year after being elected chair of the 44-member transportation policymaking body for the Dallas-Fort Worth area last month.
Franke assumes leadership of the RTC from Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen, who served as chair over the past year, including during the recently concluded 85th Session of the Texas Legislature. Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes is the new vice chair, while Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads was named secretary.
As the transportation policymaking body for the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth area, the RTC oversees transportation planning for the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country, which has a current population of more than 7 million people.
The RTC guides the development of roadway, rail and bicycle-pedestrian plans and programs; allocates transportation funds; and recommends projects to the Texas Transportation Commission for other programs.
The policymaking body’s collaborative approach has helped the region develop a world-class, multimodal transportation system that provides residents options of how to get to work, school and recreational activities.
The RTC also ensures transportation services are coordinated throughout the region and the metropolitan area complies with air quality regulations.

Fleet discounts on alternative fuel vehicles

North Texas public fleets have an opportunity to get substantial discounts on alternative fuel vehicles through the Fleets for the Future partnership.
Both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles will be considered in electric, propane, and natural gas options. Learn how your fleet can participate and benefit from this unique regional procurement process by visiting at www.nctcog.org/f4f.

Progress North Texas 2017 looks at technology

Automated vehicles, smart traffic signals and guaranteed travel speeds are among the most exciting topics in transportation.
NCTCOG has established a new program area to study automated vehicles and related topics and is working with researchers and area governments to help pave the way for smarter vehicles. While there is tremendous momentum behind vehicle automation, there are many more examples of how we are using technology to reshape the future.
Innovation is apparent from smartphone applications that help people navigate the roadway and rail systems to TEXpress Lanes that give people the choice to pay for a smoother ride along select corridors. Progress North Texas 2017: Moving into the Future Using Innovative Transportation Technologies is available at www.nctcog.org/ourregion. It examines how technology is at work in transportation planning and presents data on how the transportation system continues to meet the needs of the growing Dallas-Fort Worth area. To request copies, contact Brian Wilson at bwilson@nctcog.org.

Survey: Long-range transportation priorities

NCTCOG has begun developing Mobility 2045, the next long-range transportation plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The plan will define a 27-year vision for the region’s multimodal transportation system, guide spending of federal and state transportation funds, and address air quality and quality-of-life issues.
Planners are seeking input and hope to receive comments regarding regional priorities from the public, local governments and transportation partners. The first survey for Mobility 2045 is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/m2045.
Print copies will be mailed upon request. Draft recommendations are expected to be available in spring 2018, with RTC action in summer 2018.