Collin County Might Kill Planned Toll Lanes, but Dallas Never Put Up a Fight

Categories: Transportation

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Matthew Hillier
Welcome to Dallas.
There's something fascinating happening in Collin County. Residents are voicing an opinion on an issue -- in this case they loathe the idea of tolled "managed lanes" running down their portion of Central Expressway -- and, lo and behold, their duly elected leaders, including Collin County's entire legislative delegation and commissioners court, are taking up their cause. Not only did they write a letter to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Council urging them to make HOV lanes free to all rather than charging for their use, but several of them stood before the Texas Transportation Commission yesterday, the better to voice their constituents' concerns. It's a bit weird. No one in Dallas County was doing that eight or nine years ago when toll TEXpress Lanes were being penciled in for the rebuilt LBJ and Interstate 35.

Why are Collin County leaders raising hell while Dallas', faced with the exact same issue, meekly deferred to the wisdom of regional transportation planners? Reflexive conservative populism seems to be the proximate cause of the Collin County leaders' revolt, but it's not much of an explanation for why Dallas stayed calm. Everybody hates toll roads.

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Dallas Executive Airport's Neighbors Are Being Heard, But Being Listened to Is Something Else

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Eric Salard
The city-owned Dallas Executive Airport has a new website. It's slick, a vast leap forward from the static, text-heavy site that seemed a relic from the dial-up era. Just in time, too, since the airport is on the cusp of a major expansion. There, amidst bold-faced promises of Dallas' "world-class shopping" and "five-star entertainment," in apparent response to pretty well substantiated concerns that neighbors were shut out of the planning process, is a tab headlined "Being a Good Neighbor." It is topped, somewhat puzzlingly, with a photo of Klyde Warren Park but goes on to tout the public outreach that's being done in the area that actually surrounds the airport, some 10 miles to the southwest.

Head over to the DEAneighbors.com, local gadfly Raymond Crawford's agitprop watchdog website, and you'll find documents (e.g. sign-in sheets from key Planning Advisory Committee meetings composed entirely of city staffers and people who do business at DEA) and jeremiads detailing how the public was left out despite the promises and Federal Aviation Administration rules to the contrary.

Two months ago, the city sheepishly apologized and, according to the documents posted by Crawford, then-interim Assistant City Manager Theresa O'Donnell and aviation director Mark Duebner promised to reboot the public-input process so neighbors could have a meaningful say.

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Texas Highway Speeds Limits Are the Fastest, but Good Luck Hitting Them

Categories: Transportation

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Marcia Cirillo
This Dallas driver could be going 70 down this road.

Maybe the image that comes to mind when you picture Texas roads is zipping down a West Texas highway in a pickup truck with a dusty breeze whipping through your hair. It's the image Ford has probably seared into your mind through years of advertising, and one that's occasionally pretty accurate -- as long as you steer far away from Texas cities.

A Governor's Highway Safety Association report shows that Texas roads have the highest speed limits in the country. But we also have through-the-roof traffic numbers. You may be allowed to drive faster on Texas roads than in any other state, but you probably won't be able to because you'll be crawling in traffic past that 75 mph sign. In other words, your rush hour commute has just become about 10 times more frustrating.

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The Cotton Belt Rail Line May Still Happen, Despite Objections from Nearby Residents

Categories: Transportation

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DART
The intended Cotton Belt line, but not if Sandy Greyson has anything to do with it.
Despite having received zero proposals for private investment and an expected zero dollar contribution from DART until the agency's cash flow issues loosen in 2035, plans for public transportation along the former Cotton Belt Line in northern DFW are moving forward.

According to a DART presentation, plans for the line include diesel rail, which would look either like the sleek, light rail-aping vehicles used by DCTA or the more traditional looking TRE cars, or possible bus rapid transit along the corridor using articulating, "bendy," buses.

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Who Wins a Race to DFW from Downtown Using a Car and DART During Rush Hour?

Categories: Transportation

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AshleyNBC5
This was me stuck in traffic this morning. Take the train, guys.

Your boss tells you that you have to attend a business meeting in Paris, you poor thing. After packing a bag or two, how much time should you reasonably allot to get to the airport from your downtown office?

In honor of DART's new orange line expansion, we decided to compare driving to DFW from downtown, during rush hour, compared to taking the DART train. My colleague Sky Chadde kindly volunteered to act as a guinea pig in this experiment, taking the DART train from the West End Downtown location to DFW. I drove from the station.

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There's a Plan to Add Toll Lanes to I-35 That Nobody's Talking About

Categories: Transportation

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Now with more toll lanes -- just like every other freeway in DFW.
For all the talk of adding toll lanes to various portions of U.S. 75 and LBJ, there hasn't been much attention paid to the Texas Department of Transportation's plan to include similar lanes -- referred to as "managed lanes" in plan documents -- along the stretch of I-35 between U.S. 67 and Eighth Street in Dallas.

See also: TxDOT Proposing Converting More HOV Lanes to Toll Lanes, This Time on 75

Currently, that portion of I-35 has four lanes going in each direction and a single, reversible HOV lane. Under TxDOT's Southern Gateway plan, the interstate would be expanded to five dedicated lanes in each direction and a pair of reversible "HOV/Managed" lanes. Additional expansions and HOV to managed lane conversions would occur on I-35 as it runs south to I-20 and U.S. 67 as it runs south to FM 1382 in Cedar Hill.

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Never Try to Take Public Transit to DFW Transportation King Michael Morris' House

Categories: Transportation

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Michael Morris' Arlington home.
Michael Morris, as Schutze mentioned this morning, is arguably the most important man in local transportation. As transportation director for the obscure but powerful North Central Texas Council of Governments, he has an outsize say in how transportation dollars get divvied up across 16 counties and, by extension, which ideas get built (e.g. the Trinity River Toll Road) and which ideas languish (e.g. tearing down I-345). He's often criticized, by urban types who worry that downtown Dallas is being choked by a noose of highways, for prioritizing car travel at the expense of quality of life, of getting vehicles from here to Cleburne as efficiently as possible, pedestrians and bicyclists be damned. Yesterday, as an experiment, we decided to visit Morris' home using only a 2003ish Gary Fisher Tassajara mountain bike and public transportation.

11:03 a.m.: Morris' official NCTCOG bio says he lives in Arlington, a.k.a. the largest city in America without a public transit system (no, its lone bus route doesn't count). Bad sign. Worse sign: when I plug in his address, identified through voter registration records and confirmed by a search of licensed Texas engineers, which tells me his middle name is Richard, all Google's recommended public transit routes end with a six-mile drive.

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On Stemmons Freeway, a Cement Truck Teaches a Sedan Who's Boss

Categories: Transportation

It's never a good idea to cut off a humongous cement truck on the freeway. Not so much because karma may bite you in the ass at some vague point in the future as that it could be piloted by a driver who has no qualms about crushing the back end of your car.

Take what happened recently on Stemmons just outside of downtown, a scene captured on video. YouTube user jtocs sets the scene:

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Dallas Pedestrian Deaths Are Concentrated in High-Poverty Areas, New Data Says

Categories: Transportation

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Kenny Louie
Don't walk. Probably a good idea anywhere you happen to be in Dallas.

It may be surprising to hear, with as much as North Texas has been deservedly trashed for being a car-dependent, unwalkable hellscape, but DFW fails to crack even the top 50 of a recent Governing.com study measuring pedestrian deaths per capita.

Between 2008 and 2012 the region has averaged 6.5 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents, in line with cities like San Francisco, Tulsa and Birmingham Alabama, which doesn't seem that bad. The thing is, Dallas takes so many of its trips by personal vehicle that it's impossible for its pedestrian death numbers not to be low.

"Of course a place where 96 percent of our trips are by car in DFW, we're going to rank lowly just because there are so few pedestrians," Patrick Kennedy of Walkable DFW.

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Dallas Life Hack: DART Trains Can Double as Mobile Gyms

Categories: Transportation

Riding the DART train, you may have wondered at some point whether those those overhead straps are capable of holding the weight of a fully grown adult. The answer is yes. You've probably never wondered whether those straps are capable of holding the weight of a fully grown adult as he does a dozen pull-ups. The answer is still yes.

Credit this gentleman with the discovery. I ran into him midday yesterday on the Red Line headed north when he hopped down the steps beside me and began what he confirmed to be his regular exercise program, pull-ups mostly, some overhand, some under, some on the bar, some on the straps.

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