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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

Dallas-Fort Worth TEXpress Lanes to Open with '2-Plus' Occupancy Requirement
Agreement Brings SH 360 Extension into Focus
      A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Capehart Optimistic Changes in Arlington Will Improve Connectivity to the Region
     Member Profile, Sheri Capehart, Councilmember, City of Arlington
5 Groups Who Will Benefit From NCTCOG Aviation Careers Website
Commit to a Change for Ozone Season
Try Parking It Saves Drivers 5M Miles


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Dallas-Fort Worth TEXpress Lanes to Open with '2-Plus' Occupancy Requirement

Drivers will be introduced to a more efficient way to travel later this year, when the region’s first managed lanes begin opening along State Highways 121/114 (the DFW Connector) and a portion of Interstate Highway 635. Also called TEXpress Lanes, these new lanes will offer motorists the chance to bypass congestion in adjacent general-purpose lanes if they are willing to pay a toll. TEXpress Lanes will also be built on the North Tarrant Express project in Tarrant County.

 

Graphic: TEX Lanes
Photo: Thinkstock


The Regional Transportation Council in December adopted new rules for tolled managed and express/HOV lanes that will allow carpoolers to continue using the lanes already open as they always have.

What it means for you

If you share a ride to work with one other person, you can continue using the HOV lanes at no charge. And initially, the TEXpress Lanes will offer peak-period discounts for cars with two-plus occupancy. By 2016, the discount will be extended only to vehicles with three or more occupants. The goal of the lanes is to offer greater reliability, so if the lanes begin to fill up before 2016, the three-plus requirements could be implemented earlier across the tolled managed lanes. At that point, solo drivers and two-person carpools will be able to use the lanes for a fee. Users of the new lanes will have to preregister to get the discount.

The region’s current high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be transitioned to express/HOV lanes and become part of the TEXpress Lane System. Traditional carpoolers will be able to use express/HOV lanes for free until they are rebuilt. Where there is extra capacity, solo drivers will be able to purchase access.

Map: Dallas-Fort Worth TEXpress Lane System
Tolled managed lanes and express/HOV lanes will make up the region’s TEXpress Lane System, the next generation of the high-occupancy vehicle lanes that have existed in Dallas-Fort Worth since the early 1990s.

Logo: TEXpress
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DFW Connector
LBJ Express

North Tarrant Express
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How the decision was made

RTC members wanted to ensure consistency between the new lanes and existing HOV lanes, so they opted to open TEXpress Lanes featuring rush hour discounts for two-plus vehicles. Solo drivers will pay the full rate, which will start as a fixed amount, but eventually be variable. The matter was discussed extensively at public meetings last year, and the feedback from residents was crucial in the RTC deciding on the initial two-plus approach for both the TEXpress and express/HOV lanes.

TEXpress Lanes will be the latest improvement offered in a region continually striving for greater flexibility and reliability for all residents and visitors, regardless of what modes they choose.

Some of the operational details are still being worked out, but just about everyone could use more-reliable commuting options. That’s the goal of this policy change.

Getting the word out

The private-sector developers building LBJ Express and the North Tarrant Express plan an education campaign to help future users navigate the changes. For the policy changes approved by the RTC and other information on the new lanes, including a recently published fact sheet, visit www.nctcog.org/texpresslanes. This website links to the LBJ Express, North Tarrant Express and DFW Connector sites, which provide updated information on three of the area’s most prominent highway projects.


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Agreement Brings SH 360 Extension into Focus
A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Transportation progress has put the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the spotlight these days, with two major projects planned for decades either done or on a path to completion.

Last year, the North Texas Tollway Authority opened the President George Bush Turnpike Western Extension through western Dallas County. This important link between two interstates provided an alternative for drivers tired of the congestion they often face on State Highway 360 and Loop 12.

Now, it’s time to address SH 360, which has long been discussed and advocated by Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield. NTTA and the Texas Transportation Commission are negotiating an agreement that would extend the crucial SH 360 as a toll road south of Interstate Highway 20.

Significant work remains before we can travel this extension, but we’re closer than we’ve been in recent memory to its completion. This shared commitment between TxDOT and NTTA is the latest example of agencies working together to meet the long-term transportation needs of the region.

TxDOT will finance, design and construct the project. SH 360 will then join NTTA’s growing network of efficient roadways and be managed by the tollway authority. TxDOT will be repaid with toll revenue.

Phase I of the project will stretch from Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road in southern Tarrant County to US Highway 287 in northwestern Ellis County and northeastern Johnson County. This 9.7-mile segment will provide the residents who call this area home a smoother, more reliable and safer experience. Phase II would continue another 5.5 miles to US 67 at a later date.

 

Map: SH 360 extension

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The progress of SH 360 demonstrates how planning and transportation agencies have looked beyond their traditional roles in an effort to implement improvements for the good of the people they serve. With funding scarce, innovation is essential for the region to move forward. Current funding limitations require us to consider more than just the gas tax when we want to build new roads. Many times, this involves a tolling component.

We wish this were not the case, but as we grow and our existing infrastructure ages, building roads the old-fashioned way is becoming more difficult. Many argue that we should remove tolls from roads when they are fully funded, as was done with Interstate Highway 30. When roads are paid for, they still must be maintained, and with traditional revenue sources not keeping pace with our needs, tolls have to stay if we want these investments to remain in good condition. IH 30 has needed more than $1 billion in reconstruction, and toll revenues were not available to assist with this effort.

The partnership approach that has resulted in new roadways being built and the extension of others helps commerce and families thrive. Goods can get to market sooner, and we don’t sit in traffic as long on the way to work or home in the evening.

A recent report published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute concluded we spent an estimated 45 hours per year in traffic in 2011. While this is a long time to be stopped on the highway or crawling toward your destination, the traffic congestion picture has improved in recent years.

In 2006, commuters wasted 52 hours in traffic, according to TTI. While there are many reasons for the change, the work we’ve done to improve transportation by expanding travel options is near the top of the list.

Moving SH 360 toward construction with this cooperative effort will further boost traffic flow in Dallas-Fort Worth, especially considering how much south Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield continue to grow. Arlington is the region’s third-largest city, behind Dallas and Fort Worth. But growth is happening along the entire corridor. According to regional population estimates by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, for example, Mansfield’s population was 57,490 in January 2012, up from 28,031 in 2000. The region’s population is expected to climb to near 10 million by 2035, placing more importance on SH 360 and other crucial roadways.

All agencies involved agree SH 360 is a vital project that needs to be completed. Although we are still not quite ready for shovels, the cooperation shown by these agencies should give us all hope we will reach a conclusion that will benefit businesses, residents and anyone else traveling through the central part of the region.

I encourage you to stay involved by making sure your voice is heard throughout the remaining stages of the SH 360 project. The feedback of those who use our roads every day has always been an important element in the long-term success of the system. And it will lead to an even brighter future for the transportation system.

After all … mobility matters.

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Photo: Sheri Capehart, Councilmember, City of Arlington

Capehart Optimistic Changes in Arlington Will Improve Connectivity to the Region
Member Profile - Sheri Capehart, Councilmember, City of Arlington

Long before Sheri Capehart was elected to the Arlington City Council, she took an interest in transportation.

However, she didn’t learn about the intricacies of traffic management or how zoning affects mobility overnight. It took her two days. Well, she’s still learning, but it was a two-day session at City Hall in the 1980s that laid the foundation for Capehart. There were issues with how Thousand Oaks Drive connected with Kelly Elliott Road and the effect to surrounding neighborhoods, including hers.

So Capehart headed for City Hall and started listening to tapes and learning as much as she could. She knew the city had a transportation department, but soon discovered there were no easy answers. “I didn’t even know the right questions to ask,” she said.

Eventually, the issue with Kelly Elliott was resolved, but only after many meetings and discussions with officials.

Capehart’s study sessions years ago have proved effective today as she makes decisions for her District 2 residents as not only a councilmember, but a representative on the Regional Transportation Council.

Her favorite part of the 43-member RTC, of which she has been a member since 2006, is the interaction it allows her with other elected officials. Many problems encountered in Arlington have been dealt with in other cities and vice versa, and talking through the issues and how they’ve been managed in other parts of the region is beneficial, she said.

  Many problems encountered in Arlington have been dealt with in other cities and vice versa, and talking through the issues and how they’ve been managed in other parts of the region is beneficial.

Access to transportation options is an issue that has faced Capehart’s hometown for years. But things are moving in the right direction for Arlington, known as the largest city in the country without public transportation.

A two-year pilot program to be offered by Arlington will provide bus service between the University of Texas at Arlington and the Trinity Railway Express CentrePort Station. The plan is to begin the service August 26.

“I’m very optimistic we have once again an opportunity to connect to the rest of the region,” Capehart said. “The future of Arlington is going to be dependent on being connected.”

State Highway 360 has long been in need of an extension to the fast-growing areas south of Interstate Highway 20. The opening of the President George Bush Turnpike Western Extension in western Dallas County last year gave motorists another option for getting to the middle of the region, whether for work or play. The North Texas Tollway Authority and Texas Department of Transportation have agreed on a tentative deal to extend SH 360 south of IH 20.

Access is not only an issue for drivers and transit users. It is important to be able to allow bicyclists and pedestrians a way to get to key points in the city and region.

After all these years, Kelly Elliott is still on her radar. It is used by students of Martin High School in south Arlington. But Capehart said it has a bridge without adequate pedestrian access, and many students who are not old enough to drive and live too close for bus service use it to get to school. Capehart, who represents the area, said she worked with staff members from the city and Arlington ISD to try to find a solution.

She recently discovered TxDOT is working with the city on a “safe path” for students.

Capehart did not know when she first walked into City Hall to study a neighborhood issue that years later, she would be making decisions for the entire region. Today, when issues arise, whether in her neighborhood or a nearby city, she knows what questions to ask to help find solutions.

Resources
City of Arlington
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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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