Local Motion - July 2020

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

SH 161 expanded to improve reliability

With traffic beginning to pick up with the phased reopening of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers are being greeted by a welcome sight on a stretch of roadway in western Dallas County.

The capacity of a three-mile stretch of State Highway 161 connecting two segments of the President George Bush Turnpike has been increased.

The expansion of the section from two lanes in each direction to four was recently completed. This roadway had been the source of bottlenecks in the past because it connected two segments with more capacity.

The Texas Department of Transportation and its partners have worked to improve the reliability of this corridor, starting with the addition of two peak-period travel lanes that provided an additional lane in each direction during rush hour.

The interim solution utilized a portion of the inside shoulder to give drivers three lanes in each direction between SH 183 and Belt Line Road when traffic was heaviest. Now, the permanent solution is open to traffic.

The additional capacity of this non-tolled highway is the latest improvement to a corridor undergoing changes to meet the evolving transportation needs of an expanding region.

The North Texas Tollway Authority has been working to expand the Bush Turnpike to four lanes in each direction, including the section north of SH 161.

The SH 161 project also involved reconstruction of the freeway and interim lanes. Construction began in late 2018 and was completed in June for a cost of $21 million.

RTC funding 4 projects as part of SE Dallas County partnership

The Regional Transportation Council has approved funding partnerships with the cities of Hutchins, Balch Springs and Sunnyvale that are expected to address mobility issues while encouraging community revitalization and economic development.
Southeast Dallas
The City of Hutchins requested assistance for improvements at the intersection of Interstate Highway 45 and Dowdy Ferry Road, including a Texas U-turn and turn lanes. This project is expected to improve mobility in the area, which is a major freight hub. The project is being funded through a partnership with the TxDOT Dallas District. It will include $3.7 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) and State matching funds for construction. TxDOT is funding the design of the project.

The City of Balch Springs requested assistance to develop a context-sensitive project that facilitates future economic growth along Hickory Tree Road from Elam Road to Lake June Road. NCTCOG staff will lead the initial work and fund the design of the project with $500,000 of Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds.    

The Town of Sunnyvale has requested assistance on two projects: Collins Road from Tripp Road to Town East Blvd and Tripp Road from The Falls Drive to Belt Line Road. The first project involves the expansion of Collins Road – between Tripp Road to Town East Blvd – from two lanes to four lanes.The RTC has committed $450,000 in Regional Toll Revenue (RTR) funding for engineering. The second project involves reconstruction of Tripp Road, from The Falls Drive to Belt Line Road. Construction of this project is being funded with $800,000 in RTR funding.

Survey: Feedback on IH 45 ZEV corridor needed

Progress continues in the effort to make one of Texas’ busiest corridors easier for owners of zero-emissions vehicles to travel.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition is developing a ZEV deployment plan along IH 45 from Dallas to Houston that will determine key locations for both hydrogen refueling and electric vehicle charging stations.

This is in response to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2019 solicitation for the deployment of alternative fuel corridors.

The next step in NCTCOG’s effort to develop one for IH 45 is to seek input needed to ensure the plan is created with the needs of users in mind.

DFW Clean Cities is seeking stakeholders representing fuel providers, fleets, infrastructure developers, fuel associations, government agencies, utilities and interest groups to inform development of the infrastructure plan.

Stakeholders are needed to support both plan elements — battery electric vehicle charging and fuel cell electric vehicle fueling. Anyone interested in becoming a stakeholder is invited to take a short survey at www.dfwcleancities.org/altfuelcorridors.

Johnson County’s Harmon elected to lead RTC

Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon was elected chair of the Regional Transportation Council in June. Harmon, who was appointed to the RTC in 2001, will lead the 44-member transportation policymaking body for the next year.
A photo of Johnson County judge Roger Harmon, the new chair of the RTC.
During that time, the RTC will likely grapple with a new reality as local governments battle economic challenges and altered traveling patterns caused by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harmon will also lead the RTC during the 87th Texas Legislative Session, which begins January 2021. Harmon replaces Denton County Judge Andy Eads as RTC chair.

Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel is the new vice chair after serving as secretary for the past year. City Councilmember Ann Zadeh of Fort Worth was named secretary. The new officers will serve in their positions through June 2021.

The Regional Transportation Council is the independent transportation policy body of the metropolitan planning organization. The RTC oversees the metropolitan transportation planning process.

VW settlement grant funding remains

The Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program continues to accept applications under the second and third rounds of funding for projects to replace or repower local freight, port drayage trucks and refuse vehicles.

For the Dallas-Fort Worth area, approximately $3 million in grants is still available for the replacement or repower of eligible local freight and port drayage trucks and $4.6 million in grants is remaining for the replacement or repower of eligible refuse vehicles.

Refuse vehicles include a variety of vehicles configured to collect and haul municipal solid waste. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Details on this opportunity can be found at www.tceq.texas.gov/agency/trust/


Progress North Texas 2020 report available

This is the cover of the NCTCOG Progress North Texas publication, 2020 edition.Progress North Texas 2020 is now available online and in print. This year’s edition of the NCTCOG Transportation Department’s annual state of the region report focusses of connecting the transportation dots. It highlights accomplishments, goals and projects while demonstrating how different modes work together to help people get where they need to be.

The report seeks to inform residents about how their money is being spent and keep them up to date on transportation-related programs, projects, plans and policies. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has over 7.5 million residents who rely on the region’s transportation system. Driving continues to be how most North Texans reach their destinations, but they also have a growing number of bicycle-pedestrian and transit options.

To shape the region’s transportation system, planners and policymakers continue seek innovative ways to keep people connected, include residents in the planning process and prioritize equitable policymaking decisions. All of these are outlined in this year’s report. The cover illustration is provided by Louisa Hathcock, the winner of NCTCOG’s annual transportation art contest. As part of the contest, we asked the children of our staff to illustrate what this year’s theme of Connecting the Dots of Regional Transportation means to them.

If you would like more information or copies of Progress North Texas, please contact Brian Wilson at (817) 704-2511 or by email at bwilson@nctcog.org. This report is also available online at www.nctcog.org/ourregion.

-Imagery and Resources Provided by NCTCOG