President releases national infrastructure plan
The Trump Administration released a long-awaited infrastructure proposal, intended to increase both federal funds and investments in the US. The plan would establish incentive programs for State and lo-cal governments, as well as private business in the form of $200 billion in grants. The total proposed funding is lower than previously dis-cussed during the State of the Union, but the plan calls for many incen-tive programs for public and private investments and leveraging of $14 billion through credit programs. The funding breakdown is:
- $100 billion for incentive programs and grants
- $50 billion for grants for rural infrastructure improvements
- $20 billion for transformative projects to increase innovation and attract private business investment
- $14 billion for current federal credit programs to leverage funding
- $10 billion for a revolving fund for the General Services Administration
- $6 billion to the Treasury to make up for private activity bonds
Part II of the plan lists additional provisions for infrastructure improvements to incentivize alternate project development and remove barriers to the development process.
Part III details a more efficient permitting process for environmental review by creating new review structures, delegating more decision-making power to states, and authorizing pilot programs for innovative review processes.
Part IV presents provisions to aid in access to education and workforce development programs.
North Texas ozone season begins March 1
Since 10 North Texas counties are designated nonattainment for ozone pollution, air quality is on the minds of the region’s transportation planners throughout the year. But special attention is paid to air quality during ozone season, which began March 1.
Historically, the spring is when ozone levels begin increasing, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments will visit many community fairs over the next two months to remind residents of the importance of making clean-air choices. NCTCOG’s efforts culminate in Clean Air Action Day, a celebration held on the first Friday of summer. This year, Clean Air Action Day will fall on June 22, and participants are asked to implement an action to help reduce ozone in the region.
Since this event began, it has provided an opportunity to introduce residents to clean air choices such as carpooling, telecommuting and taking transit. Employers have also joined in on the challenge.
The City of Grand Prairie has been recognized for two consecutive years as Air North Texas Partner of the Year. As part of its efforts, Grand Prairie asked employers to make clean air commitments. Last year, nearly 650 pledges were made by companies in the city, with Lockheed Martin leading the way.
The results of these efforts and other factors are reflected in the steady improvement in the region’s ozone levels. Since 1998, the design value has fallen from 102 parts per billion to 79 ppb. Although there is still work to be done to meet the federal standard of 70 ppb, the current design value is the best on record. Find out how you can become part of the solution to improve air quality by visiting www.airnorthtexas.org.
You can also sign up for air pollution alerts, which help you stay informed of when additional clean air actions are recommended.
RTC OKs awards for innovative projects
The Regional Transportation Council approved funding in February for three innovative projects as part of the Blue-Green-Grey initiative.
The awards focus on water (blue), environment (green) and transportation infrastructure (grey).
Southlake was selected for the Burney Lane Biofiltration System project, with recommended funding of $50,000.
Farmers Branch’s Green Bus Stop Design Guidelines project will receive $30,000, Dallas Area Rapid Transit‘s Community Gardens Hatcher Station Pilot Project was also approved and will receive of $29,170.
This initiative was created to advance projects or programs with innovative outcomes in each of the three areas by providing seed money so that entities may develop ideas and grant applications for full funding or implementation.
Eligible applicants for this award included governmental agencies, private firms, non-profits and teams of individuals. The maximum award was $50,000.
The recipients were chosen from among 53 applicants for funding.
NCTCOG sponsoring Car Care Clinics in April
NCTCOG is partnering with local automotive repair shops to sponsor Car Care Clinics throughout April 2018 to help North Texas drivers whose vehicles have the check engine light illuminated.
A vehicle’s check engine light turns on when there may be an issue that could negatively impact its emissions.
These FREE clinics will provide drivers with an opportunity to talk to a technician about their vehicle’s issues. AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine on-site application processing for financial assistance will be available at select locations. NCTCOG has approximately $28 million available to help qualifying motorists fix emissions problems or buy new vehicles.
To find a clinic, visit www.NTXCarCare.org. For additional information, send an email to NTXCarCare@nctcog.org, or call 817-704-5697.
Volkswagen settlement update
North Texas could benefit from the settlement paid by Volkswagen after a court determined the automaker used devices that helped vehicles "defeat" emissions tests.
In November, Texas filed as a beneficiary to claim approximately $209 million, which will be used to fund projects to replace or repower diesel vehicles or equipment. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was named the lead agency and will administer these funds in Texas.
On January 28, the trustee of the Volkswagen settlement filed a list of designated beneficiaries. The next step is for TCEQ to submit a mitigation plan, which must be done 30 days before submitting the first funding request.
The TCEQ is currently accepting public comment pertaining to the use of the trust funds and development of the mitigation plan. For more information and to submit comments, visit www.tceq.texas.gov/agency/trust.
Staff requests public input on funding program
A funding program for safety, innovative and emergency transportation projects will be available for review during the upcoming online public comment period, scheduled to begin March 12.
The Safety, Innovative Construction and Emergency Projects Program awards federal funding for emergencies and to projects that improve safety conditions or have an innovative construction method.
Details on the program and the projects being proposed for funding will be available for review and comment.
Information related to April Car Care Clinics, the AirCheckTexas Program and funding opportunities for vehicles and refueling stations will also be posted.
The online comment period runs through April 10, at www.nctcog.org/input. To request printed copies, call 817-608-2365 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring outreach season kicks off March 24
The NCTCOG Transportation Department will kick off spring outreach season Saturday, March 24, when staff members visit the Fort Worth Water Gardens for Earth Party. Each spring, the department participates in outreach events to talk with North Texans about 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 Earth X at Fair Park in Dallas on Earth Day, April 22. 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, AirCheckTexas, Try Parking It and sustainable development.
For more information, visit www.airnorthtexas.org.