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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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Legislature Approves Additional Funding for Roads

More transportation funding is likely headed for North Texas and other parts of the state thanks to measures approved by the Legislature in the closing days of the 84th Session. The new budget, which takes effect September 1, calls for an additional $3.7 billion to be spent on transportation over the next two years through an end to diversions and annual infusions from Proposition 1.

An estimated $2.4 billion will come from Proposition 1 funds, a portion of oil and gas severance taxes approved by voters last year to be directed from the Rainy Day Fund to transportation. The remaining $1.3 billion in new money will come from lawmakers’ decision to end the practice of diverting money from transportation funds to other parts of the budget.

FWTAexas Department of Transportation has said it needs $5 billion per year for maintenance and to keep congestion from worsening. The additional funding will move TxDOT toward this goal without an increase in fuel or other taxes.

 

Even more revenue will be provided if voters pass Proposition 7 in November. This proposed constitutional amendment would earmark approximately $2.5 billion from state sales tax for transportation once revenue tops $28 billion, beginning in September 2017. By September 2019, 35 percent of the proceeds from the motor vehicle sales tax would also be directed to the State Highway Fund. This is expected to amount to between $250 million and $500 million per year. The money provided by Proposition 7 would be limited to non-tolled roadway facilities.

This would be the second consecutive constitutional amendment to provide funding to the transportation system, following the overwhelming approval last year of Proposition 1, which has provided the region funding to build an interchange at Interstate Highway 30 and State Highway 360.

Additional funding has topped the Regional Transportation Council’s legislative program the past several sessions as policymakers grapple with the increased transportation needs brought on by explosive growth throughout Dallas-Fort Worth. The region continues to add about 1 million new residents every 10 years and is projected to grow to 10.6 million by 2040.

  $3.7 billion - Amount to be spent on transportation over the next two years through an end to diversions and annual infusions from Proposition 1
Graphic: iStock
Another issue the RTC has pursued is restoring money to the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program, which had its funding reduced by almost 88 percent in 2011. Starting September 1, the new budget will provide full funding, or $87 million statewide, for the program over the next two years. The program offers vouchers worth up to $3,500 to help qualifying motorists with replacement costs of high-emitting vehicles and $600 toward repairs.

 

Since 2002, AirCheckTexas has helped repair more than 30,000 vehicles and replace an additional 30,000 cars and trucks. Since the program’s funding was reduced four years ago, the replacement component has operated on a limited basis each year, and repair vouchers have been offered year-round. Full funding of AirCheckTexas will allow the program to assist more people and offer replacement vouchers for longer each fiscal year.

 

A provision that could have derailed the planned private development of high speed rail from Dallas to Houston did not pass, meaning the project can continue. By 2021, Texas Central Railway is hoping to complete the project, which would move passengers between the fourth-and fifth-largest metropolitan areas in the country in an hour and a half.

 

For additional information on the 84th Session, visit NCTCOG.org/legislative.

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NCTCOG, Clean Cities Working Toward Clean Fleets

The North Central Texas Council of Governments and Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition are working to improve air quality by helping fleet operators and other residents understand the benefits of clean vehicles. The effort starts with data to determine how many vehicles powered by alternatives to gasoline are operating in the region. To collect this data, the DFW Clean Cities Coalition surveys stakeholders annually.

In 2014, more than 6,600 alternative fuel vehicles combined with idle-reduction efforts and other fuel-economy decisions to help save 22 million gallons of fuel. This represented the largest one-year jump since reporting began in 2009 and an increase of almost 5 million gallons over the previous year.

This progress is important to the region as it continues to work toward attainment of the federal government’s ozone standard. Ten DFW counties are in nonattainment for ozone pollution and have until 2018 to meet the standard. 

Clean Fleet Policy

Alternative fuel vehicles are just one piece of the region’s effort to improve air quality. Many NCTCOG programs, projects and policies are also contributing to the pursuit of cleaner air. While high-profile projects and programs receive much of the attention, NCTCOG policies are also counted on to make a significant impact. One example is the Clean Fleet Policy, which public and private entities operating in the region are asked to adopt in order to be eligible for vehicle funding awarded by the Regional Transportation Council. Revised in 2014, this policy outlines goals and provides workable, cost-effective solutions to reduce emissions from local fleets. Fleet operators adopting this policy are also required to submit data for inclusion in the DFW Clean Cities Annual Report.

Logo: DFW Clean Cities  

Fleet Recognition

 

Participants in the DFW Clean Cities Annual Report will be eligible for the Fleet Recognition Program. The program aims to highlight the work of entities that have pioneered clean vehicle technologies in the region, while encouraging competition among entities that maintain clean fleets and increased involvement with the DFW Clean Cities Coalition. Those responses received will be scored and awards presented to outstanding fleets.

Fleets are recognized according to their efforts to:

  • Reduce emissions
  • Reduce fuel consumption
  • Partner with NCTCOG and the DFW Clean Cities Coalition
  • Ensure their drivers and other personnel are familiar with the goals to improve air quality and reduce petroleum use

Smaller fleets will have the same opportunities to be recognized as larger fleets. Fleets will be recognized as Gold, Silver, or Bronze based on the data they submit and receive a corresponding vehicle decal. Top fleets will be awarded a “Gold Fleet” glass paperweight in addition to the Gold decal.

Training Available

 

As the number of alternative fuel vehicles continues to grow, it is becoming more important to provide training so the vehicles on the road will last longer. A US Department of Energy grant NCTCOG recently received will provide alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technology training to help mechanics, technicians and others develop the skills necessary to maintain alternative fuel vehicles. The grant will educate those working on alternative fuel vehicles and first responders on how approach an accident scene involving an alternative fuel vehicle.

 

There are important differences in handling vehicles powered by gasoline and those that use alternative sources of fuel. For example, there are specific procedures for disconnecting the cables of alternative fuel vehicles in emergency situations. Natural gas vehicles also have different fuel components and engine layouts than conventionally powered cars and trucks.

On the Web: DFWCleanCities.org


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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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