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Progress North Texas 2017


Livable Communities

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Just as technology is being used to improve the efficiency of the transportation system, communities are embracing it to improve quality of life. Cities are becoming "smart," integrating innovative elements that improve parking, lighting and efficiency. These elements focus on data collection, resource optimization and connectivity.

The Dallas Innovation Alliance, a nonprofit public-private partnership, has launched a multi-phase smart city strategy for Dallas' West End. The "living lab" aims to encourage a city where technology and social infrastructure accelerate sustainable economic development while conserving resources and improving quality of life. DIA is taking a multifaceted approach that will allow it to analyze and measure the collective impact.

Here are examples of the work being done:

• Lighting along Market Street will be converted to LED and equipped with sensors that can measure air quality, crowd noise and other environmental factors.

• Interactive kiosks are intended to serve as a focal point for community engagement, providing such things as public Wi-Fi, USB charging stations and wayfinding/transit options.

• Connectivity will be aided by the presence of fiber and cellular networks.

• Smart parking will monitor lots and garages for available spaces, which could allow drivers to locate and reserve parking ahead of time. Not only would this improve the parking experience, but it could also increase parking utilization rates and decreased traffic congestion/carbon dioxide emissions.

Light poles are an important piece of the strategy because they have
many potential uses and are already in the public right-of-way. In the West End, they can help reach connectivity goals by being equipped with monitors and smart cells that will enable Wi-Fi.

The City of Arlington is also taking advantage of lighting infrastructure to achieve a variety of benefits. In 2014, the City began an effort to upgrade its 21,478 high-pressure sodium light bulbs to low-wattage LEDs to reduce costs and its carbon footprint. Thus far, the City has converted more than 11,000 streetlights in two phases.

Arlington's streetlight conversion has led to a 47 percent reduction in energy costs and helped finance projects at 21 city buildings.

PHASE I (2015): Retrofit approximately 10,500 150- to 200-watt light fixtures to 95-watt LED.

PHASE II (2016): Retrofit approximately 320 Entertainment District lights, 310 250-watt lights and 210 high-mast fixtures.

The upgrade project has yielded greater benefits than expected, allowing Arlington's streetlight crew to focus on priorities besides constant maintenance. The crew can now focus on upgrading wiring to make the system more reliable.

This is a graphic of the River Oaks Boulevard Corridor Master Plan and a cut away of lanes and use.
Recommended improvements in the River Oaks
Boulevard Corridor include shared-use paths, sidewalks,
enhanced pedestrian amenities, landscaping and on-street parking.

Linked to Larger Image


Regional Trail Use

Technology is assisting planners on bicycle-pedestrian facilities throughout North Texas. The Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Traffic Count Program is recording data with equipment installed on trails throughout the region. In 2016, there were 39 equipment count locations on trails recording the number of pedestrians and bicyclists for transportation planning purposes. Equipment was also installed on a street with bike lanes to count the number of bicyclists using the roadway.

A snapshot of findings from the data collection effort includes:

• In 2016 the proportion of pedestrian traffic at the trail count locations was 58 percent, with bicyclists representing 42 percent of the trail traffic in those locations.

• On some trails, usually near more populated areas, most users are pedestrians. In lessdeveloped locations, bicyclists are the primary users. For example, pedestrians account for over 80 percent of traffic on the Katy Trail. By contrast, bicyclists represent over 80 percent of traffic on White Rock Trail.

• While weather does affect the overall use of trails, usage is generally greater during warmer months.

More information and annual data collected at the count stations is included in the 2016 Annual Report, available at

Corridor Studies

NCTCOG led two planning studies in 2016 using innovative technologies to find solutions: the River Oaks Boulevard (SH 183) Corridor Master Plan and the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan. Information about these planning studies can be found at

The River Oaks Boulevard project sought to produce a vision and
recommendation for transportation improvements along River Oaks Boulevard from SH 199 on the north and the West Fork Branch of Trinity River on the south. The plan balanced mobility and accessibility improvements with economic development. The recommended improvements included shared-use paths, sidewalks, enhanced pedestrian amenities, landscaping and on-street parking.

Among the recommended innovative solutions to enhance the boulevard were contra-flow lanes. The contra-flow lane design simplifies traffic movement patterns by limiting automobiles to right turns. This decreases the number of potential bicycle and pedestrian conflict points with automobiles.

The Northwest Highway and Preston Road project examined existing conditions and future needs in the north Dallas study area. It resulted in a preferred community vision. The study's approach included integration of transportation operational improvements, land-use intensity and mix, and context-sensitive street design.

One of the elements was a weeklong study within the Preston Center commercial area parking garages. License plate reader technology was used to gather information related to occupancy and the time vehicles spent in each parking space.

This is a graphic of the River Oaks Boulevard Corridor Master Plan and a cut away of lanes and use.

FTA Transit-Oriented Development Planning Grant

NCTCOG led a regional partnership to advance transit-oriented development when it won a $1.4 million grant from the FTA for a TOD planning pilot study. Dallas, Garland, Plano, Richardson and DART are partners in the effort, aided by $350,000 of local money. The planning study will use innovative technologies to prioritize infrastructure improvements for pedestrian and bicycle connections to DART Red Line and Blue Line light-rail stations. It will also leverage the latest techniques used to study parking, reduce labor cost and improve efficiency.

By studying these existing corridors and data, insights generated in this pilot study will moveNorth Texas TOD policies into a better future for all the region’s rail stations.


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