Thanks to everyone who took part in our Twitter chat today. Let's do it again soon. My colleague, @maricare, Storified the chat, and if you'd like to see her work go here.
Posted at 02:33 PM in 287/I-20/U.S. 67, 35W NORTH OF FW, 35W SOUTH OF FW, 377 (Denton Highway), I-20, I-30, Loop 820, Southwest Parkway/121T/Chisholm Trail, Texas 161, TX 114, TX 121, TX 170, TX 183, TX 360, Current Affairs, Driving, Gas prices and gas guzzlin', Mobile phones, cell phones, texting, talking and driving, No Car. No Problem., Toll Roads, Traffic, Trains, buses 'n such, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Your morning commute | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Join us Tuesday, Feb. 25, from noon to 1 p.m., when Star-Telegram transportation writer Gordon Dickson will take over the Star-Telegram's Twitter feed to discuss the hot topics that involve your commute.
Here are the details:
When: Noon to 1 p.m. CST, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
Topic: Join Star-Telegram transportation writer Gordon Dickson --@gdickson -- for a conversation on #DFWtraffic. Ask questions and get answers on what's making you honkin' mad.
Host: Star-Telegram: @startelegram
Moderator: Maricar Estrella, Deputy Managing Editor/Community Engagement: @maricare
Can’t make the chat? Comment below with your questions or go to the Star-Telegram Facebook page from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Feb. 25 to join the Facebook discussion.
Posted at 03:30 PM in RED LIGHT CAMERAS, 287/I-20/U.S. 67, 35W NORTH OF FW, 35W SOUTH OF FW, 377 (Denton Highway), I-20, I-30, Loop 820, Southwest Parkway/121T/Chisholm Trail, Texas 161, TX 114, TX 121, TX 170, TX 183, TX 360, Current Affairs, Driving, Fun, Gas prices and gas guzzlin', Mobile phones, cell phones, texting, talking and driving, No Car. No Problem., Toll Roads, Traffic, Trains, buses 'n such, Travel, trucks, Video, movies, Weblogs, Your morning commute | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday should finally bring some relief from the 5-day-old sheet of ice that has blanketed North Texas roads. But yet another commuting culprit may rear its ugly head - potholes.
Posted at 04:56 PM in 287/I-20/U.S. 67, 35W NORTH OF FW, 35W SOUTH OF FW, 377 (Denton Highway), I-20, I-30, Loop 820, Southwest Parkway/121T/Chisholm Trail, Texas 161, TX 114, TX 121, TX 170, TX 183, TX 360, Cowboys/Rangers, Current Affairs, Driving, Science, Toll Roads, Traffic, Travel, Your morning commute | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
As the Star-Telegram's Bill Hanna is reporting, a typical 20- or 30-minute commute could take two hours this morning because of treacherous, icy conditions. It's a far better idea to simply stay home today, if at all possible. DART is reporting that it has shut down its light-rail system in the Dallas area because the agency just wasn't able to keep the electrical components that powered it from freezing over. However, DART spokesman Mark Ball told KDFW Fox Channel 4 this morning that buses are being used as a shuttle service to connect the DART train stations. The Trinity Railway Express, a commuter rail line that is powered by diesel locomotives, is still running between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with delays. And, of course, many riders who normally use TRE to connect with DART's light-rail system are going to be frustrated when they get to Big D.
Posted at 07:42 AM in 287/I-20/U.S. 67, 35W NORTH OF FW, 35W SOUTH OF FW, 377 (Denton Highway), I-20, I-30, Loop 820, Texas 161, TX 114, TX 121, TX 170, TX 183, TX 360, Current Affairs, Driving, No Car. No Problem., Toll Roads, Traffic, Trains, buses 'n such, Travel, Your morning commute | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
How much do you spend on tolls each month? Is it a few bucks here and there, or is it more like another utility bill? I'm working on a story about TollTag use in Tarrant County, which today is a relatively small piece of the pie when it comes to raking in toll revenue in the North Texas region. But I'd also like to hear from some car owners in Collin, Dallas and Denton counties. How often do you use the toll roads in Dallas-Fort Worth, what sort of places do you go and how much does it cost you?
If you've got just a minute or two, post a quick comment to this blog item, or send an email to email@example.com ... and Thanks!
Texas legislators are ready to snip the Texas Department of Transportation's credit cards. They say the agency has borrowed too much money - nearly $18 billion - because the state lacks the cash to build the projects needed to keep up with growth.
Updated at 2:15 p.m.
Getting Texas 360 extended from Arlington to Mansfield beginning in 2015 became a lot more realistic Friday, after the North Texas Tollway Authority approved a deal to develop the toll project in a partnership with another agency.
Texas 360 will be extended as a toll road from Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road to U.S. 287, with the Texas Department of Transportation doing the initial design and construction and then turning over the road to the tollway authority, to be operated and maintained as part of the region's now-vast tollway system.
The state transportation department can pay for the initial work with project-backed debt, a federal transportation infrastructure loan (TIFIA loan) or cash from the state's highway fund, according to the agreement.
The agreement calls for four main lanes as far south as Broad Street, and two main lanes from Broad Street to U.S. 287. Frontage road improvements are also in the mix. The project is expected to cost about $600 million.
Any toll revenues left over after the debt, operations and maintenance expenses are paid will be split evenly between the two agencies. The state transportation department will focus its share of the funds on improving the Texas 360 corridor north of the project. For example, some of the funds could eventually be used to improve the Texas 360/Interstate 30 interchange, although a timetable for such work isn't spelled out.
Depending upon how the environmental study of this route goes, a realistic goal is to get the project under construction by 2015. Under that scenario, the road could be open to traffic by 2017, said Texas Transportation Commission member William "Bill" Meadows of Fort Worth. Meadows worked closely with tollway authority officials to reach an agreement.
The Texas Transportation Commission will consider approving the deal during a meeting in late February. Pending that approval, both sides would then need to put the final touches on a development agreement by March.
The tollway authority has dramatically expanded its role in providing mobility options for North Texas motorists during the past decade, beginning with the Sam Rayburn Tollway in Denton and Collin counties. The tollway authority also extended the President George Bush Turnpike into Grand Prairie and Irving, and inked a deal to build the Chisholm Trail Parkway from downtown Fort Worth to Cleburne.
But arranging all that work has come at a whopper of a cost. The tollway authority is now servicing $9.5 billion worth of debt and, although it probably could have issued more, didn't want to go deeper in the red to build the Texas 360 extension. So, the next best thing was to tap into the borrowing power of the Texas Department of Transportation, and that's the essence of the agreement reached Friday.
"It preserves our funding to use on future roads as they come up," said tollway authority board member Victor Vandergriff of Arlington, who will be leaving the board at the end of the month.
The tollway authority gets to add Texas 360 to its growing portfolio of toll roads. The Texas Department of Transportation gets the benefit of traffic relief at essentially no cost - the agency does pay for Texas 360 expansion up front, but will get its money back.
"We get it back over time," Meadows said.
And Texas motorists will get the immediate benefit of a road expansion that, were they left to use only traditional forms of funding, they might not be able to afford for another 20 years.
“Traffic congestion on SH 360 is a serious quality of life, economic, and safety issue for families and businesses in southeast Tarrant County," state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said in an email. In 2009 and 2010, Turner organized community leaders in Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield to work together and see the Texas 360 project through to completion.
"Today's decision by the NTTA," he said, "is a significant step forward in solving this problem."
DFW AIRPORT - More than a fourth of Texas' 100 top transportation challenges are in the Dallas Fort Worth area, a report released Thursday concluded.
The worst roads include two sections of Interstate 35W north of downtown Fort Worth - although both areas are scheduled for improvements over the next couple of years.
Still, the report on deficient roads was released Thursday by local and national advocates, who called on the Texas Legislature to increase Texas highway funding to avoid stumping the state's economic growth.
"The consequence of not making these improvements is severe," said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, associate director of research for TRIP, Washington-based organization supported by insurance and construction companies and other businesses that favor increased highway funding.
Gathering at Dallas Fort Worth Airport's headquarters, officials from TRIP, the Texas Good Roads and Transportation Association and other groups called for lawmakers to embrace new funding sources for Texas highways.
Texas, which relies mostly on motor fuels taxes to pay for roads, is losing ground in trying to keep up with its mobility needs, said Lawrence Olsen, executive vice president of Texas Good Roads. In recent years, lawmakers have allowed the Texas Department of Transportation to issue bond-backed debt to temporarily make up for a lack of road funding. But, Olsen said, the new reality of now making regular installment payments on that debt has made the long-term funding picture more bleak.
"Now when TxDot does its budget it takes $2 billion off the top for debt," Olsen said. "That's money that's not going to these projects."
Among the local projects listed on the report's top 100 Texas transportation challenges:
During the current legislative session, lawmakers are being asked to get serious about providing better long-term funding sources for transportation. Rider Scott, executive director of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, said a growing number of state residents is calling for elected leaders to find the funds to fix the state's crumbling roads.
Among the suggestions is that the state stop diverting transportation funds to non-transportation projects, which could generate about $1.2 billion per year. Another idea would be to dedicate sales taxes paid on automobile purchases to the state's Fund 6 highway fund, rather than the general fund, which would raise another $3 billion.
Of course, both of those ideas would create funding gaps in other state programs.
Similar reports were released nearly simultaneously in other Texas metro areas.
12:25 a.m. update: Here's a link to an updated version of the story with more details about Vandergriff's potential interest in the job of Arlington mayor, as it appears in the Thursday Star-Telegram edition.
Arlington businessman Victor Vandergriff announced Wednesday that he is leaving the North Texas Tollway Authority board, a position he has held since 2007.
Vandergriff was chairman of the board in 2010 and 2011, taking over from predecessor Paul Wageman of Plano, who guided the agency through tremendous growth but was sometimes criticized for aggressive management.
The decision takes effect at the end of the month, a tollway official said.
Vandergriff attempted to unify the board, but was unable to pass through sweeping changes on the tollway authority's reliance on a small number of legal, engineering and other professional firms to do virtually all of its day-to-day work. So he stepped down as chairman and was replaced by former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, the current chairman.
Still, Vandergriff received a standing ovation from the tollway board during a meeting Wednesday in Plano.
Vandergriff was a vocal member of the board when key projects were delivered, including the Sam Rayburn Tollway in Denton and Collin counties, and the western extension of the President George Bush Turnpike in Grand Prairie and Irving (a key route to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington).
“We cannot thank Victor enough for the countless hours he has dedicated to working on NTTA projects that increase mobility for North Texas drivers,” Barr said in a statement.
He also oversaw the conversion of the region's tollways to an all-electronic form of collection - essentially doing away with the toll booths - and the beginning of construction on the 28-mile Chisholm Trail Parkway project from Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth to U.s. 67 in Cleburne.
Chisholm Trail Parkway is scheduled for completion in 2014.
More recently, Vandergriff was trying to secure construction of the Texas 360 extension south of Arlington-Mansfield to U.S. 287.