Local Motion - April 2019

In this issue  A monthly update on activities of the Regional Transportation Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Department

Regional agreement moves US 75 forward

US Highway 75 in Collin County will soon become more free-flowing, thanks to a breakthrough agreement to add capacity to the crucial north-south freeway.

A plan to improve reliability along a stretch of US 75 between the Sam Rayburn Tollway and Interstate Highway 635 will be moving forward after an agreement was reached between local officials and the Federal Highway Administration. The corridor’s under-used high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (one in each direction) will effectively become general-purpose lanes, although during a narrow window of the time, a small toll will be required.

Because the HOV lanes were built with funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, current federal law dictates that they cannot become pure general-purpose lanes. Federal law requires that they must retain an HOV component with the ability for HOV users to move at reasonable speeds.

Officials from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and Texas Department of Transportation met with staff from FHWA to move the project forward. The agreement calls for the lanes to be general purpose (no toll, no HOV requirement) a majority of the time, but to charge southbound single-occupant vehicles (SOVs) using the lane a minimal toll for selected hours weekday mornings and northbound SOVs using the lane a small toll for selected hours weekday evenings.

Vehicles with two or more occupants will be able to use the new lanes without being charged the small toll. The lanes will remain open as non-tolled general-purpose lanes for the rest of the day and weekends, operating around the clock.

TxDOT is completing an environmental review of the corridor and will be ready to begin transition of the HOV lanes in 2019.

Spring outreach season in full swing

The NCTCOG Transportation Department kicked off spring outreach season Saturday, March 30 when staff members visited Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion for Earth Party.
Each spring, the department participates in outreach events to talk with North Texans about regional transportation and air quality.

NCTCOG’s outreach efforts will continue throughout April, beginning with Brookhaven College’s Earth Day Fest on April 3 and concluding with EarthX at Fair Park in Dallas April 26-28.
At each event, NCTCOG will provide information on its planning efforts, visiting with residents about transportation and air quality programs such as Air North Texas, Try Parking It, aviation education and sustainable development. Air quality is an important component of transportation planning in Dallas-Fort Worth because 10 counties are in nonattainment for ozone and are working to reach compliance with federal standards. For more information, visit https://www.nctcog.org/trans/quality/air/for-everyone/aircheck

EarthX hosts sirens, schools and shippers workshop April 26

Join the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Clean Cities Coalition, Transportation Energy Partners, and NAFA Fleet Management Association at EarthX, one of the nation’s largest Earth Day festivals, on April 26 for a half-day workshop aimed at promoting fleet efficiency in the emergency response, school bus, and delivery truck sectors.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn directly from peers in these represented industries and hear how to implement clean vehicles and efficiency practices in their communities. Industry leaders will provide their expertise on the financial and environmental benefits, overcoming barriers and strategies for deploying new technologies.

Fleet managers, purchasing officials, sustainability staff and all other interested professionals are encouraged to attend. Join us and be part of the effort to make North Texas a national leader in sustainable transportation.

Congestion Management Process update underway

NCTCOG has begun updating the region’s Congestion Management Process documentation to measure congestion and identify strategies to address congestion on the busiest roadway corridors.
Required for urbanized areas with populations over 200,000, the CMP typically focuses on lower-cost options to reduce congestion.

Examples are:
  • • Demand management strategies
  • • Operational improvements to traffic
  • • Public transportation enhancements
  • • Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies
NCTCOG will coordinate with its agency partners to develop performance measures and to identify the most appropriate strategies to alleviate both recurring and non-recurring congestion.
The current CMP for North Texas was adopted by the RTC in 2013. The RTC is expected to consider approval of the CMP update by the end of the year. The current CMP and other related resources are available at www.nctcog.org/cmp.

Apply for AirCheckTexas assistance by April 8

AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine, a program that has helped more than 71,000 motorists repair or replace their vehicles since 2002, is winding down. The last day to apply for assistance is April 8. Motorists whose vehicles failed the emissions portion of the annual State inspection within the past 30 days or are at least 10 years old are eligible for assistance if they meet certain income requirements. A family of four with an annual household income of $77,250 or less, for example, can qualify for assistance. For more information on the program, including the income requirements, visit https://www.nctcog.org/trans/quality/air/for-everyone/aircheck​.

511DFW app upgraded to enhance experience

The region’s leading app and website for providing road condition information, 511DFW, received an upgrade in March to improve the user experience. With the improvements, users can quickly access free real-time information on traffic and transit conditions in both English and Spanish. The app also now allows users to access and integrate their personalized My511 account, previously a website-only feature. My511 lets users save frequent trips. As a privacy feature, users can travel to intersections rather than specific destinations.

Other website-only features now available on the app include access to a customizable map, live dynamic message signs (the electronic information signs with traffic updates along highways), and highway cameras that refresh with photos of live traffic at least every five minutes. These features mean users can now scope out their trip before they leave for a destination. Information on traffic speeds for freeways and arterials, weather alerts, bus stops, crashes, road construction, and current and upcoming events impacting traffic are still available on the app. Motorist assistance information for freeways can also be found on the app.

The upgrades to 511DFW still use travel data from other apps, including Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze to maximize the user experience. The 511DFW app is available in the App Store or on Google Play. Although the app requires a smart phone, anyone with a phone can still call 511 to get the latest traffic information. Visit www.511dfw.org to learn more.

Public to hear long-term planning updates April 8

NCTCOG will host a public meeting in April to provide updates on several transportation planning efforts, including the 10-Year Plan, the 2019 Congestion Management Process, a status report on Mobility 2045 and the 511DFW Traveler Information System. The meeting will take place at NCTCOG’s Arlington offices, 616 Six Flags Drive, at 2:30 pm Monday, April 8.

NCTCOG helps maintain and manage funding for transportation projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. In December 2016, the RTC approved a 10-Year Plan identifying major projects to be implemented in the region by fiscal year 2026. An updated draft of the project list continuing through FY 2029 and details on the project scoring process will be presented for review and comment.
Additionally, federal regulations mandate urbanized areas with populations over 200,000 must implement and maintain a Congestion Management Process for measuring transportation congestion levels and prioritizing management strategies. Staff will present a brief overview of federal CMP requirements as well as elements and topics to be considered in the CMP update.

Staff will also provide a status report on Mobility 2045, the long-term vision for the region’s transportation system. The Metropolitan Transportation Plan guides spending of federal and State transportation funds and includes funding for highways, transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and other programs that reduce congestion and improve air quality. Finally, the meeting will include a demonstration of the 511DFW Traveler Information System, which provides information for the region related to freeways, toll roads, city streets and transit trip planning.

Information on the 2019 spring outreach season, Regional Smoking Vehicle Program and Mobility 2045 administrative revisions will also be highlighted. To watch the meeting online, click the “live” tab at www.nctcog.org/video. A recording of the presentations will also be posted at www.nctcog.org/input.