Local Motion - March 2020

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

Ozone season underway in Dallas-Fort Worth

Ozone season in the Dallas-Fort Worth area began March 1 and continues through November.

In North Texas, this is the time of year when ground-level ozone is typically at its highest concentration. Ten Dallas-Fort Worth area counties remain in nonattainment for ozone, although the region has made significant progress in recent years.
Ozone forms when volatile organic compounds combine with sunlight and intense heat. For example, pollution can occur when emissions from power plants, vehicles, dry cleaners and more are exposed to heat. The air quality index is used to report daily air quality levels in the region to help better understand the severity of pollution and related health impacts. The color-coded system is easy to follow. When the index is green or yellow, the air is safe for most groups. When the index is orange, red or purple, it can be unsafe for most groups to go outside.

Air North Texas Logo

A few simple changes to people’s daily routines could make a difference. To stay informed about the AQI North Texans are encouraged to sign up for air pollution alerts at www.airnorthtexas.org/signup. High ozone can be combatted in many ways, including reducing idling, carpooling, taking your lunch to work and conserving water and electricity. For more clean air ideas, visit www.airnorthtexas.org/howto.

Friday, June 26, 2020, is Clean Air Action Day, Air North Texas’ flag-ship event encouraging involvement from throughout the region to make the air cleaner. Consider doing at least one thing on this day to improve air quality. Share your actions on social media by including #CAAD2020 on your post or tagging @NCTCOGtrans. For a list of ways to help air quality, visit www.airnorthtexas.org/cleanairactionday.

Trail of the Month spotlight shines on Southern Pacific Trail

Bicycle and pedestrian options are increasing across the Dallas-Fort Worth region. In support of this growth, the North Central Texas Council of Governments has developed a monthly video series, as part of an outreach initiative, to highlight the region’s expanding system of shared-use paths. The spotlight in March focuses on the recently completed Southern Pacific Trail, or SoPac Trail, a 5.6- mile facility connecting the White Rock Lake area to the Park Cities, North Dallas and Richardson. Built in the right-of-way of a former Southern Pacific rail alignment, the project was supported through a variety of funding sources, including more than $7 million awarded by the Regional Transportation Council.

SoPac’s numerous trail connections provide convenient access to various neighborhoods, schools, commercial centers and parks, including Fair Oaks Park, which can be directly accessed through the Fair Oaks Park trailhead.

The SoPac is the latest bicycle-pedestrian facility featured in the Trail of the Month series. The videos are being released on the first Friday of each month and allow viewers to learn about trails in their neighborhoods and throughout the region, while inspiring residents to get out and be active.

Watch the SoPac Trail and other featured videos at www.nctcog.org/bikeweb.

Community outreach season kicks off in March

With spring approaching, attention will soon turn to outdoor activities, enjoying the mild temperatures and sunny weather. Outreach season kicks off March 21 with Fix My Ride, a service offered by Cross Timbers Church in Denton County assisting North Texans in need of minor vehicle repairs and maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations. The Career Exploration and Job Fair is scheduled for March 25 at Denton High School and Grapevine’s Household Hazardous Waste Event is set for March 28.

The NCTCOG Transportation Department participates in community events each spring to help tell North Texans the story of transportation and air quality. NCTCOG’s outreach efforts will continue through April, culminating in the annual EarthX celebration April 24-26 at Fair Park in Dallas.

At each event, staff will provide information on programs such as Air North Texas, the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program and Try Parking It. 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.

The department attends events throughout the year, but spring presents many opportunities to meet residents face to face. Last year, the department appeared at 16 community events attended by approximately 200,000 people.

Updated website offers traffic, bike-ped counts

There is a new way to gauge vehicle demand on many Dallas- Fort Worth roads. The traffic counts page, one of the most popular pages on the NCTCOG website, has been redesigned. The site is accessed daily by people in the public- and private sectors, including city and county staffs, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, consultants, students and researchers.

The new traffic counts interface offers a high-quality base map and improved visuals and charts that help to make the data understandable and more accessible.

Getty Image
Getty photo

New features include display of the latest count and year on the initial screen and availability of detailed data on all points that include historical counts, counts by time of day, and counts by vehicle type. For the first time, bicycle and pedestrian counts are available on the webpage.

In addition, the interface is fully compatible with mobile devices. The data is available at https://trafficcounts.nctcog.org/trafficcount/. Member agencies are encouraged to contact NCTCOG to have their vehicle and bike/pedestrian counts displayed on this new NCTCOG online resource.

VW funding for freight vehicles now open

The Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program is now accepting applications under the third round of funding for projects to replace or repower local freight and port drayage vehicles.

Approximately $33 million is available to public and private sector entities in the priority areas of Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise counties. For example, a company seeking to replace older diesel delivery trucks with newer, more fuel efficient could apply for funding under this grant program. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.tceq.texas.gov/agency/trust.

Drone workshop set for March 28 in Dallas

The next drone workshop is set for 10 am-2 pm Saturday, March 28 at Dallas County Community College’s Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development in southern Dallas.

This is the second of 12 half-day workshops scheduled for locations across North Texas. The first was held in January at NCTCOG’s Arlington offices.

The series is being conducted to help professionals and amateurs learn rules, regulations, best practices and more about this emerging technology. The workshop will also provide tips on flight safety, including pre-flight planning, how to conduct a safe flight and where to fly drones. The workshop will provide instruction on guidelines and requirements for people flying drones as a hobby as well as those who have found commercial uses for them.

Unmanned aircraft systems are becoming more widespread in North Texas and beyond. In 2019, there were almost 27,000 UAS registered in North Texas. This represented an increase of more than 40% over the previous year. The session will include a demonstration on the “Low Altitude Authorization Notification Capability system, which allows drone pilots to fly in controlled airspace below 400 feet. There will also be instruction on applying for airspace waivers. Registration for this FREE workshop is open through 5 pm Friday, March 27. For more information, visit www.northtexasuas.com.

NCTCOG requests input on funding initiatives

North Texans will be presented details on two major project proposals that could help shape parts of Fort Worth and Plano during a public meeting in March.

The RTC is considering funding a land-use change at the former Collin Creek Mall site in Plano and has also been asked to fund a change order of $20 million to help expedite completion of the Trinity River Bridges, part of Fort Worth’s Panther Island flood
control project.

NCTCOG staff also will discuss the 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program during a public meeting scheduled for 6 pm on Monday, March 9 at NCTCOG’s Arlington offices, 616 Six Flags Drive.

The TIP is a federally and state-mandated list of transportation projects with committed funding within a four-year period. An overview of the development process and a draft list of active projects in the region will be presented for review. Additionally, staff will present an overview of the Mobility 2045 Policy Bundle Program, which includes a list of voluntary policies that local governments and transportation agencies can choose to adopt. These policies aim to address issues affecting transportation in the region.

Finally, staff will provide an overview of the upcoming ozone season as well as statistics from the 2018 DFW Annual Fleet Survey. Information on spring outreach season, the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program, vehicle incentives and administrative changes to Mobility 2045 will also be highlighted. The meeting will be streamed live at www.nctcog.org/video for those not able to make it in person.

A video of the presentation will be available after the meeting at www.nctcog.org/input.

This is an image with text "Transportation public meeting"

Imagery Provided By Air North Texas, Getty Images, and NCTCOG Staff