May is a good time to turn our attention to being more active. The weather is pleasant. The flowers are blooming. Outdoor festivals are (still) plentiful. And it’s Bike Month.
Throughout May, the North Central Texas Council of Governments is hosting the Try Parking It Bike Everywhere Challenge, open to all residents of North Texas. Through www.tryparkingit.com, the regional ride-matching and commute-tracking website, NCTCOG is asking commuters to choose their bikes for work, running errands and recreation. Awards will be presented in two separate categories: Most Bike Trips and Most Bike Miles Traveled. Three prizes will be awarded in each category:
• First place – $125 Amazon e-gift card and Try Parking It swag
• Second place – $100 Amazon e-gift card and TPI swag
• Third place – $75 Amazon e-gift card and TPI swag
Participation in the challenge is easy. Residents must simply register for the Bike Challenge athttps://www.tryparkingit.com/, ride and record their trips on the website.
Pedaling to the office is one way to participate in Bike Month. The region will celebrate Bike to Work Week from May 14-18, an annual event sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists that culminates with Bike to Work Day on May 18. NCTCOG is partnering with Dallas Area Rapid Transit to provide assistance – and motivation – for North Texans riding their bikes to work May 18. DART will set up energizer stations at select locations along its transit network, offering refreshments, encouragement and bike safety checks.
NCTCOG staff members will be there to visit with participants and inform them about active-transportation opportunities. For a full list of energizer stations, visit http://www.dart.org/riding/biketowork2018.asp
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for May 11 to celebrate the opening of a 9.7-mile extension of State Highway 360.
The roadway, which will be operated by the North Texas Tollway Authority as a toll road, runs through Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield.
The Texas Department of Transportation is building the $340 million road from Green Oaks Boulevard to US Highway 287. Construction on the project, which will include four toll lanes, began in November 2015. Ultimately, one additional lane in each direction is planned north of Debbie Lane, while the stretch south of Debbie
Lane would have two more lanes in each direction, according to NTTA.The existing portion of SH 360 will remain toll-free. To the north of the new stretch of highway, crews continue work on the interchange that will directly link SH 360 and IH 30 for the first time. Motorists must currently exit either freeway and connect to the other via access roads.
The new interchange is expected to be completed in 2020. The existing cloverleaf ramps to and from IH 30 are being removed and replaced with modern structures. For updates on the new 360 Tollway, visit http://www.drive360south.com/
Waze Carpool has introduced a pilot program to the Dallas-Fort Worth area allowing commuters to utilize Waze Carpool for a flat rate of $2. Waze will pay for the three-month pilot or up to $50,000 in monetary incentives – whichever comes first.
NCTCOG and Try Parking It, the region’s ride-matching and commute-tracking website, have partnered with Waze to allow carpoolers to log commutes to earn points that can be used to enter additional contests, purchase rewards and earn milestone prizes.
Through the pilot program, passengers who wish to carpool with a Waze driver will be able to download the Waze Carpool App and request a ride. The carpool app is separate from the Waze Navigation app. Riders chip in to cover the cost of gas.
The result is that passengers get an affordable and convenient ride, while drivers get gas money and enough passengers to use carpool lanes.As an example, assuming that the average trip for commuters is 20 miles, or $10, Waze would subsidize an average of $8 per trip. With $50,000 in available budget, Waze Carpool would be subsidizing more than 6,000 rides. Waze may be able to subsidize more or less, depending on the average price.
Waze Carpool is available for Apple and Android devices. For more on the Try Parking It Program, visit https://www.tryparkingit.com
, or download the TryParkingIt app in the App Store or on Google Play.
Join NCTCOG on May 8 for its Energy Efficiency Forum to learn more about regional partnerships, financing mechanisms and resources that local governments can use to reduce energy consumption at facilities and throughout their communities.
Presenters will cover topics such as the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, Tax-Exempt Equipment Lease Purchase financing, Property Assessed Clean Energy, Energy Star Building Portfolio Manager and more.
Attendees will also hear about State Energy Conservation Office reporting resources to assist with Senate Bill 898 requirements. Under this legislation, local governments in nonattainment areas must report data about energy consumption.
The Energy Efficiency Forum is free — there is a charge for lunch — and is a great opportunity to discuss best practices with peer organizations and some of the region’s energy efficiency leaders.
Register today at https://www.nctcog.org/envir/events
NCTCOG is offering approximately $1.5 million in grant funding for the replacement of heavy-duty diesel vehicles or equipment. Local governments and private companies that contract with local governments are eligible to apply.
Eligible vehicles or equipment must operate in the 10-county ozone nonattainment area, which includes Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise counties.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is now available in Tarrant County, which has joined a dozen other Texas counties and cities in offering this financial tool.
PACE offers economic and environmental benefits for private industrial, commercial and multi-family buildings by enabling property owners to access low-cost, long-term loans to pay for water conservation, energy-efficiency improvements and renewable-energy retrofits.
PACE financing has been found to increase property values, encourage business retention and expansion, update aging buildings, and increase the environmental efficiency of facilities. Examples of qualified projects are HVAC systems, efficient lighting, water management and high efficiency irrigation systems. More information about eligible improvements and Texas case studies can be found at https://www.texaspaceauthority.org
Additionally, the Texas PACE Authority and Houston Advanced Research Center have developed an Energy & Emissions Tracker to help track environmental benefits (energy, water and emission reductions) associated with each project.
Mobility 2045 is expected to be considered by the Regional Transportation Council in June. Before this blueprint for transportation is approved, residents have another chance to provide input. Public meetings on the $135 billion proposal are scheduled to begin May 8 in Fort Worth. They will continue May 15 (Arlington) and May 16 (Richardson).
The Metropolitan Transportation Plan will define the long-term vision for the region’s transportation system and guide spending of federal and State funds. Mobility 2045 will include funding for highways, transit and bicycle-pedestrian facilities that help reduce congestion and improve air quality. Additionally, staff will present information regarding 2018 Transportation Conformity.
Transportation Conformity is a federal requirement in Dallas-Fort Worth and other nonattainment areas to conduct air quality analysis on transportation projects, programs and policies. Conformity determinations must demonstrate consistency between ozone-causing emissions expected from implementation of transportation plans and programs, and State requirements.
Details on projects being proposed to receive funding through the Strategic Partnerships Program will also be presented. This program awards federal funding to high-priority projects that leverage funds from local partners or provide a strategic value to the region.
Finally, staff will discuss a new school-siting guidebook and Safe Routes to School plans. NCTCOG’s Community Schools and Transportation Program seeks to advance coordination between cities and school districts, promote sustainable school-siting decisions and improve transportation safety and alternative transportation options to schools.
For more information on the public meetings, visit https://www.nctcog.org/input
. Watch the Arlington session live at https://www.nctcog.org/video