Winter 2015


Semiannual Newsletter of the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area

Tower 55 Project


The $104 million Tower 55 expansion project was completed in fall 2014 and is expected to improve the flow of goods through the busy rail intersection and meet the industry’s needs for at least the next 20 years.
The addition of 18,000 feet of new track going north-south through the Tower 55 area has improved the mobility of rail traffic. Enhancements to track alignment and switches are also helping freight move faster.
And air quality is being enhanced because the improvements are requiring fewer vehicles to wait at crossings.

TOWER 55 on back page

The opening of the North Tarrant Express (left) and the extension of Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Orange Line to Dallas/Fort

Worth International Airport represented two major accomplishments in 2014 that improved access to the airport and

other spots throughout the region. Photos: North Tarrant Express/DART


Improvements Lead to Smoother Path to DFW Airport

Improvements to the Tower 55 area near downtown Fort Worth have made it easier for freight rail deliveries to move through the region. Safety and air quality have also been enhanced by the $104 million project.

allas/Fort Worth International Airport celebrated its 40th
anniversary in 2014, and the facility has grown remarkably since the first flight touched down. Starting with three runways and 12 airlines, the airport has expanded to seven
runways and 23 airlines to become the fourth-busiest in the world. To get passengers in and out of the airport, a sophisticated surface transportation network is
As the airport was marking four decades in business, improvements in ground transportation were making it easier for local residents to access the terminals and North Texas travelers to reach their final destinations. (The airport is undergoing its own $2 billion- plus renovation that is providing passengers the modern amenities they expect.)
The DFW Connector, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, North Tarrant Express and LBJ Express work together to aid travel to one of the region’s largest economic engines, which served 60.4 million passengers in 2013. While not all of these recent improvements tie directly into the terminals, they
are essential pieces of a comprehensive network that is expected to become even more efficient in the future.
Bernice J. Washington, a member of the DFW Airport Board of Directors, said the improvements are crucial to the continued success of not just DFW Airport, but the region.

citizens to be able to travel and
do business worldwide, they need
easy access to DFW and every
other transportation hub,” said
Washington, who also serves on
the Regional Transportation
Council. “We are competitive
globally because we can move
people really well, and it is
improving every day.”
More roadway capacity helps people move, but North Texas transportation improvements are also about providing people additional choices.
Last August, DART introduced passenger rail to the airport with its five-mile Orange Line extension from Irving. This provided a new way for passengers and DFW Airport’s
60,000 employees to access the facility.
An average of 1,000 passengers per day are benefiting from this new service. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said the agency’s leaders are pleased with the line’s early performance. The figure is
expected to increase to 1,200 after the first year of service, he said.
The improvement gave the region direct access to the airport via passenger rail for the first time.
“The Orange Line extension to DFW Airport connects our region to the world. Now global trips for business or pleasure can begin
with a local train ride,” Lyons said. “The extension also enhances
access to thousands of great jobs at the airport. Thanks to DART,
North Texans can live where they want and get to work without having to rely on a car.”
Washington said a rail connection to the airport is a “huge win” and a dream 40 years in the making.
“International passengers especially expect such a service from an international airport, and we are anxious to support rail service from [the Fort Worth Transportation Authority] into DFW,” Washington said.

DFW AIRPORT on back page

“For people to want to visit and invest in our region, and for our

The DFW Airport rail station, which opened in August, provides a new transportation option for passengers and the airport’s 60,000 employees.

Mobility Matters is a newsletter on the transportation planning activities and air quality programs of the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Regional Transportation Council – together serving as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area since 1974.

A Message From Michael Morris, P.E.

Director of Transportation

Let’s Make 2015 the Year of Better Communication

s we enter a new year, looking forward is natural. Many people
have committed to changes intended to improve their health, well-being and relationships.
A new year allows us to look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism, making changes where we can enhance our lives and the lives of those around us.
As the calendar flips to 2015, the North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Department is examining how to best communicate with its customers in 2015 and beyond.
We offer an array of methods, including both print and digital communication tools, to interact with the region. We combine these with outreach efforts such as community events and public meetings to provide the latest in transportation news and establish a dialogue with residents about how we can
most effectively meet their
needs. We have used meetings to
seek public comment on big-
picture plans and minor
amendments to technical
Historically, we have relied heavily on public meetings to
disseminate information about transportation and air quality topics. These meetings have given us the opportunity to both explain projects and programs intended to help improve the reliability of the system and hear directly from those affected by the decisions made.
However, the world is changing. We are all being asked to do more with less and provide evidence that our actions and ideas are impacting lives.
Social media and the Internet have changed the way people communicate. People want to be able to transmit ideas immediately. When they think
of a way to improve something, they tell their followers on Twitter or post a picture of it on Facebook and Instagram.
This trend extends to the world of transportation, as we have seen on our own social media sites. When people are passionate about something, they will let you know right away. Waiting until they are invited to a public meeting across town isn’t always an attractive option.
Data from a recent public involvement survey we
conducted indicates people still like public meetings, but our experience tells us we can use them more effectively. For example, some meetings draw just a handful of people. In these instances, we believe we can find more effective and convenient ways of communicating.
We have heard feedback and have developed a revised Public Participation Plan that relies less on meetings at city halls and more on tools our audience can access from the comfort of their own homes. And it seeks to leverage our relationships with community groups and business organizations.
Under the new Public Participation Plan, we will continue announcing all public input opportunities through multiple strategies such as electronic communications, newspaper advertising and fliers available in public places. The public will still have 30 days or more to review and offer comments.
We will reserve public meetings for the development of plans, programs and policies, as well as significant changes. In a world where people can immediately transmit thoughts to increasingly
large numbers of people, it is important for us to adjust with the times. Changing our approach to public meetings is a step in this direction.
Information on topics not brought to public meetings will be available online for public comment. We will make the same information available in print upon request.
Our goal is to maintain an open, comprehensive dialogue with
the public, no matter how controversial the topic. Sometimes that can be done online, through a webinar or other presentation; other times it may require an auditorium; however, we can also do a better job of meeting people where
they are.

MICHAEL MORRIS on back page

How can we more effectively communicate with you about transportation? Tell us on Twitter,

@NCTCOGtrans, using


Regional Transportation Council

Grand Prairie Mayor Sees Potential of Transportation Projects

Member Profile

Ron Jensen, Mayor, City of Grand Prairie

on Jensen was on his way up the elevator at Fort Worth City Hall to meet with
Mayor Betsy Price about a Mayors’ Institute on City Design conference he was to attend. Price had participated in the institute, which prepares mayors to be the chief urban designers in their communities. The newly elected mayor of Grand Prairie wanted to know what to expect. But something caught Jensen’s eye on the way up. He saw a poster advertising Price’s “Rolling town halls.”
These are bicycle rides Price has held throughout Fort Worth to encourage participants to
exercise, meet their neighbors and get to know the mayor. Jensen thought a similar event might work in Grand Prairie, giving residents a chance to enjoy the outdoors and visit with their
city’s top elected official. In November, he kicked off Cyclin’ with the Mayor in conjunction with the 2014 debut of Prairie Lights, the city’s holiday light display. He expects the ride to
become a regular feature beginning this spring, when the weather is more conducive to riding bicycles.
For Jensen, the event is an opportunity to showcase his community and inspire people to be more active. It also demonstrates the cooperation of
mayors and other city officials in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Jensen partnered with his counterparts from neighboring cities on a significant active transportation project shortly
after being elected mayor in 2013. That year, Jensen joined Price and the mayors of Arlington, Irving and Dallas in announcing their intention to pursue funding necessary to complete a Fort Worth-to-Dallas network of bicycle-pedestrian trails. Last
year, the project took a step toward completion with the announcement that a portion of the network would receive funding from NCTCOG’s Transportation Alternatives Program Call for Projects.
Extensions of the Dallas Trinity Skyline Trail, Irving Delaware Creek Trail, Arlington River Legacy Trail and Trinity Trails in east Fort Worth are all part of this regional trail corridor.
“As our residents grow 'greener' and look at alternative forms of transportation and exercise, an intercity bike trail holds promise,” Jensen said when the effort was announced. “We are especially partial to projects that unite our communities, so we are interested in seeing how this develops.”
President and owner of Control Products Corp., Jensen has been working on transportation issues that benefit North Texas for more than 10 years during two stints as a member of the Regional Transportation Council. He was first appointed to the RTC in
2003, as a member of the Grand Prairie City Council, serving until January 2013. He returned in June
2013, after being elected mayor. Jensen has been involved in many projects crucial to the long-term health of the region.
One that is near to his heart is right in his own backyard.
Grand Prairie is poised for change, and one major reason is the completion of State Highway
161 to Interstate Highway 20. For motorists who live and work in the area, the completion of the project meant more reliable commutes. For Grand Prairie, it opened the door to further development and improved accessibility to the city’s entertainment district.
In May, voters approved a
quarter-cent sales tax for The Epic
@ Central Park, a health, wellness
and recreation center. Central
Park includes the Summit senior
living center and the Public Safety
Building and will offer trails, an
indoor/outdoor waterpark and
other amenities when the project
is complete in 2017. The
completion of the road provided
the city with the opportunity to
approach the voters with a sales
tax election that would lead

RON JENSEN on back page


Arlington Buses Celebrate Third Semester of

Service with Growing Popularity

Regional Transportation Council

Mike Cantrell, Chair

Commissioner, Dallas County

Mark Riley, Vice Chair

County Judge, Parker County

Ron Jensen, Secretary

Mayor, City of Grand Prairie

Douglas Athas

Mayor, City of Garland

Brian Barth, P.E.

hen Marti Harvey moved to Garland in October 2013, her
commute to The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) averaged an hour by car, but could take up to two hours due to traffic. She wanted a more reliable trip.
So Harvey, a journalism lecturer at UTA, began riding the Metro ArlingtonXpress (MAX) three days a week for a relatively stress free way to get to work. It takes her seven minutes to drive to the station, where she parks and takes the train to the Centreport/DFW Airport Station. From there, Harvey gets on the MAX, which takes her
to UTA.
“The MAX saves money in gas and wear-and-tear on my car,” said Harvey. She also enjoys
Wi-Fi on the Trinity Railway Express and MAX, which allows her to work while she’s riding.
The MAX recently celebrated the third semester of service since its launch August 19, 2013, and the service has grown in popularity. Starting in January 2014, the average trips per day exceeded
250, a goal set when the program began, with September having the highest average at 388. September 24 had the record number of trips per day, totaling
The MAX has three stops along the route, which takes riders between the TRE CentrePort/ DFW Airport Station and downtown Arlington, which includes the UTA College Park District and Arlington’s Entertainment District. The service runs between 5:30 am and 11:30 pm Monday-Friday.
Before the MAX was introduced to students, residents and commuters, Arlington was known as the nation’s largest city without public transportation.
MAX is provided through a partnership involving the city of Arlington, Arlington Chamber of Commerce, UTA, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the Fort Worth
Transportation Authority and the TRE.
Harvey said her experience on the bus service has been great, but wishes there were more ride times available. An on-board survey indicated riders wanted the same thing: more frequent trips, as well as more stops.
Harvey hopes the MAX will continue beyond the two-year pilot and become a permanent service.
“I have several students who are able to go to UTA because of the MAX,” said Harvey. “They live
in Dallas suburbs and don’t have cars. This allows them to go to UTA without the expense of getting a dorm,” she said.

Dist. Engineer, TxDOT, Fort Worth Dist.

Carol Bush

County Judge, Ellis County

Sheri Capehart

Councilmember, City of Arlington

Rudy Durham

Councilmember, City of Lewisville

Andy Eads

Commissioner, Denton County

Charles Emery

Board Chair, Denton County

Transportation Authority

Mark Enoch

Board Member, Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Gary Fickes

Commissioner, Tarrant County

Robert Franke, P.E.

Mayor, City of Cedar Hill

Sandy Greyson

Councilmember, City of Dallas

Mojy Haddad

Board Member, North Texas Tollway Authority

Roger Harmon

County Judge, Johnson County

Vonciel Jones Hill

Councilmember, City of Dallas

Clay Lewis Jenkins

County Judge, Dallas County

Jungus Jordan

Councilmember, City of Fort Worth

Sheffie Kadane

Councilmember, City of Dallas

Geralyn Kever

Councilmember, City of McKinney

Lee Kleinman

Councilmember, City of Dallas

Stephen Lindsey

Councilmember, City of Mansfield

Laura Maczka

Mayor, City of Richardson

David Magness

Commissioner, Rockwall County

Scott Mahaffey

Board Chair, Fort Worth

Transportation Authority

Matthew Marchant

Mayor, City of Carrollton

Maher Maso

Mayor, City of Frisco

John Monaco

Mayor, City of Mesquite

Kevin Roden

Councilmember, City of Denton

Amir Rupani

The Metro ArlingtonXpress continued to provide valuable transit service to

a community that lacked it before the arrival of this two-year pilot.

RTC Awards $38M to Advance Active Transportation

Citizen Representative, City of Dallas

Daniel Scarth

Councilmember, City of Fort Worth

Kelly Selman, P.E.

Dist. Engineer, TxDOT, Dallas Dist.

Lissa Smith

Mayor Pro Tem, City of Plano

Mike Taylor

Mayor Pro Tem, City of Colleyville

Stephen Terrell

Mayor, City of Allen

T. Oscar Trevino Jr., P.E.

Mayor, City of North Richland Hill

nterest in enhancing active transportation in North Texas has seen growth over the past
few years. Last fall, the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) advanced that growth by awarding $38.2 million to projects that could broaden bicycle and pedestrian facilities and increase connectivity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The RTC allocated the funding to
33 projects as part of its
Transportation Alternatives
Program (TAP) project selection.
With local entities contributing
more than $40 million toward
the projects, over $78 million
will be invested in active
transportation enhancements as
a result of the funding awards,
improving bicycle and
pedestrian facilities in Collin,
Dallas, Denton, Hunt, Parker,
Tarrant and Wise counties.
The projects also include significant regional trails providing connections between cities and access to transit stations and major employment centers.
The funded projects include several portions of the planned regional trail corridor announced in 2013 that would stretch from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas. Extensions of the Dallas Trinity Skyline Trail, Irving Delaware Creek Trail, Arlington River Legacy Trail,
and Trinity Trails in east Fort Worth are all part of this regional trail corridor.

The Regional Transportation Council awarded $38.2 million to active transportation projects last year. This means 33 projects throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area will become a step closer to completion.


In all, more than 46 miles of sidewalks, trails and on-street bikeways will be constructed using TAP and other federal funds. Several projects will also improve bicycle and pedestrian safety near schools.
TAP was authorized by MAP –
21: Moving Ahead for Progress
in the 21st Century (the current
federal transportation funding
and authorization bill) and
provides money for programs
and projects defined as
transportation alternatives.
Types of projects eligible under this program include on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects
for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, improved safety and access to schools, as well as boulevards and similar multimodal roadways.
A full list of projects, the funding they were awarded, and a map
of their locations are available at

William Velasco, II

Citizen Representative, City of Dallas

Oscar Ward

Councilmember, City of Irving

Bernice J. Washington

Board Member, Dallas/Fort Worth Int. Airport

Duncan Webb

Commissioner, Collin County

B. Glen Whitley

County Judge, Tarrant County

Kathryn Wilemon

Mayor Pro Tem, City of Arlington

W. B. “Zim” Zimmerman

Councilmember, City of Fort Worth

NCTCOG Executive Board

Kathryn Wilemon, President

Mayor Pro Tem, City of Arlington

John Horn, Vice President

County Judge, Hunt County

Daniel Scarth, Secretary-Treasurer

Councilmember, City of Fort Worth

Steve Terrell, Past President

Mayor, City of Allen

Clay Lewis Jenkins

County Judge, Dallas County

B. Glen Whitley

County Judge, Tarrant County

Vonciel Jones Hill

Councilmember, City of Dallas

Keith Self

County Judge, Collin County

Dr. Larry Marshall

Councilmember, City of Benbrook

Laura Maczka

Mayor, City of Richardson

Tom Lombard

Councilmember, City of North Richland Hills

Laura Wheat

Mayor, Town of Westlake

Kevin Strength

Mayor, City of Waxahachie

Toni Rose, State Representative

Ex Officio Member

R. Michael Eastland, Executive Director

DFW AIRPORT (continued from Page 1)

FWTA is working to deliver passenger rail from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport by
2018. Currently, the Trinity
Railway Express, co-owned by
DART and FWTA, provides
commuter rail service from
downtown Dallas and downtown
Fort Worth to a station near the
airport, where passengers are
bused to the airport.
In October, the North Tarrant
Express, a 13-mile improvement
of State Highways 121 and 183, as
well as Loop 820, was completed.
The main lanes and TEXpress
Lanes were finished
simultaneously, providing a more
reliable trip to both drivers using
the free lanes and travelers
willing to pay to use the
TEXpress Lanes. This multi-

highway improvement is making it easier for those who live and work in north Fort Worth, Haltom City, North Richland Hills, Hurst, Euless, and Bedford, as well as other cities on the western side of the Dallas-Fort Worth area to access the airport and other important destinations.
“FWTAEXpress Lanes add an additional element to the highway system creating longer-
term commuter access as a way to get through the corridor at a minimum speed of 50 mph and a maximum of 70 mph,” NTE spokesman Robert Hinkle said. “The added capacity is reducing congestion throughout the whole corridor and better managing the specific reasons people are using the highway system and the local

gateways in each of the cities.”
And the enhancements will continue. LBJ Express, the $2.7 billion reconstruction of Interstate Highway 635 in north Dallas, will provide greater mobility for people living and working
nearby. Parts of this project, which includes reconstructed general purpose lanes and new TEXpress Lanes, are already
open. The entire reconstruction is expected to be completed by
late 2015.
And the Midtown Express, formerly called the State Highway 183 Managed Lanes
Project, is expected to begin soon. It will increase the capacity and result in the reconstruction of portions of SH 183 south of the
airport, as well as SH 114 and
Loop 12. One managed toll lane
in each direction will be added as
part of an interim improvement.
This will increase capacity on SH
183 and portions of SH 114 and
Loop 12.
When all these improvements around DFW Airport are complete, they will provide better access to an airport that continues to grow. Data indicates the number of flights will increase steadily from a projected 679,000 in 2015 to 1 million annually by
2055. Enhancements to roads and rail will help make the public’s traveling experience more pleasant.

TOWER 55 (continued from Page 1)

It was financed through a public- private partnership that included
$65 million from Union Pacific Railroad and Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway. The federal

government awarded a $34
million Transportation Investment
Generating Economic Recovery
(TIGER) grant, and local and state
agencies paid for the remainder
of the improvements.
The railroad industry will continue growing, but it is estimated these improvements

will meet mobility needs for at least the next 20 years.

MICHAEL MORRIS (continued from Page 2)

Our social media channels have allowed us to efficiently respond to questions and comments about transportation and will play an even more significant role moving forward. Why? Because like many other technological advances,

they empower users.
We understand the Dallas-Fort Worth area is far too expansive for one organization to reach
everyone. However, by effectively targeting many audiences
through social media, work with the news media, outreach to community and business organizations and, yes, public meetings, we can continue
to provide residents and employers with information that

will empower them to help us plan for the future.
After all … communication matters.

RON JENSEN (continued from Page 2)

to the completion of this 172-acre development.
Jensen has enjoyed getting to know the members of the RTC personally and being a part of a group with so much responsibility for the future of the region.
“We’re a team,” he said. “Do we always agree? No. After the vote, do we get along? Yes. We’re a

team. I want to be seen as a good, productive member of RTC. You want to contribute.”
The most important issue he and the rest of the RTC face is determining where to spend the region’s limited transportation resources, he said.
North Texas received a boost in November, when voters across the state overwhelmingly

approved Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment that will result in an additional $1.7 billion to be used for non-toll roadway projects. More funding
will be available in future years as a result of the measure.
Work is underway to identify potential projects that could benefit the region, and the RTC will eventually be asked to recommend where the money
goes. With this and other matters, Jensen recognizes the importance of decisions that benefit the
entire region.
“I want to make sure we have good data to help make good decisions,“ he said. “It shouldn’t always be about Grand Prairie. The region will grow. We’ll get our fair share. Let’s share in the benefits and dole out the money fairly.”
For a list of upcoming Transportation Department events, visit

mobilitymQuarterly Newsaletter of thte Metropolitan Planrning sOrganization for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area

This publication can be made available in alternate formats upon request

North Central Texas Council of Governments

P. O. Box 5888, Arlington, Texas 76005-5888

PHONE (817) 695-9240 (metro) FAX (817) 640-3028


The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the opinions, findings, and conclusions presented herein.

The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, or the Texas

Department of Transportation. This document was prepared in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation and the US Department

of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration. Mobility Matters is a newsletter on the transportation planning activities and air quality programs of the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Regional Transportation Council – together serving as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area since 1974.

Editor, Brian Wilson Layout and Design, Kristy Libotte Keener, Graphic Design Coordinator

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Published by North Central Texas Council of Governments