VHO sets sights on location for certification center
Virgin Hyperloop One is searching for a home for a facility to serve as a certification center for its groundbreaking technology — and North Texas is interested. The company released a request for proposals in November asking for regions with a desire to welcome a facility.
Conceptual proposals are due to Virgin Hyperloop One by December 13. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is looking for ways to integrate high-speed transportation into the current transportation system to improve mobility as the region continues growing. Hyperloop and high-speed rail are two possibilities for moving people through Dallas-Fort Worth and throughout Texas. Texas Central Partners is working to bring high-speed rail to the Dallas-to-Houston Corridor.
A separate effort is underway to connect the rest of the region to high-speed rail. In October, NCTCOG released an RFP seeking a consultant to study high-speed options in the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor, including Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth. Firms interested in the project face a December 13 deadline. A study of the Fort Worth-to-Laredo corridor is also being conducted, with a final report due in early 2020.
Online input chance begins Dec. 9
The North Central Texas Council of Governments invites the public to review and provide comments online on a new way to receive peak-period managed lane discounts, the hyperloop certification center initiative and more transportation-related projects.
Information will be posted at www.nctcog.org/input for public review and comment December 9, 2019-January 7, 2020.
Ozone season ends with DFW making strides
Ozone season in North Texas concluded November 30, with the region continuing to pursue the federal government’s standards for clean air. The nonattainment area’s ozone concentration is 77 parts per billion, up slightly over last year’s 76 ppb, but still historically low.
NCTCOG is in pursuit of two standards: the 2008 standard of 75 ppb and the more stringent 70 ppb, set in 2015. North Texas has until 2021 to attain both standards.
Ten counties — Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise — are in nonattainment for the 2008 standard. Nine counties are working to comply with the 2015 standard. Rockwall is not included. In planning for the present and future transportation needs in North Texas, it is important to make sure health is not negatively impacted.
Dallas-Fort Worth has made significant progress to improve its air quality since 1998, when the design value was 102. The design value has steadily declined over the past two decades due to improvements in fuel efficiency and the efforts of NCTCOG and its partners to encourage clean air choices.
One way residents are empowered to contribute is through Air North Texas. This is NCTCOG’s public awareness campaign that encourages individuals, businesses and governments to make small changes to their routines. During Clean Air Action Day 2019, North Texans committed to take nearly 3,000 clean air actions to help improve air quality. For more information on NCTCOG’s efforts, visit www.airnorthtexas.org.
Trail of the Month series highlights Preston Ridge
NCTCOG is continuing its trail of the month focus in December, highlighting the Preston Ridge Trail, a 14.5-mile, north-south concrete facility that begins near Coit Road and Haymeadow Drive in Dallas, traversing northward up to Ridgeview Drive in Plano. A segment approximately a mile long is funded and will connect both the Dallas and Plano sections in the future.
NCTCOG is highlighting 12 bicycle-pedestrian trails as part of a monthly series that began this summer. The videos are being released on the first Friday of each month and are intended to help residents learn more about the many great trail systems in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Look for the release of the Preston Ridge Trail video December 6 and watch all the videos at www.nctcog.org/bikeweb
DCTA renames station in honor of longtime chair
The Old Town Lewisville commuter rail station has been renamed for Charles Emery, the longtime Denton County Transportation Authority chair who was instrumental in the agency’s development.
It officially became the Charles Emery Old Town Station on October 29.
While serving as chair of the DCTA board for 18 years, Emery was heavily involved in the growth of the agency, including the expansion of DCTA’s footprint to include a commuter rail.
In 2011, the 21-mile A-train opened, connecting Denton County to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Green Line in Carrollton. The A-train has stations in Denton, Highland Village and Lewisville in addition to connecting with DART in north Carrollton.
In addition to his almost two-decade run as DCTA chair, Emery was a member of the Regional Transportation Council for 15 years.
In 2002, 73% of the county’s voters approved the creation of DCTA. The following year, a half-cent sales tax was passed by Denton, Highland Village and Lewisville voters.
Texas LoanSTAR provides energy financing
The Texas LoanSTAR (Saving Taxes and Resources) Revolving Loan Program opened in October to provide low-interest loans to assist Texas public institutions by financing their energy-related, cost-reduction retrofit projects.
Loan recipients may be cities, counties, independent school districts, State agencies, public colleges and universities, and tax-supported public hospital districts. Loans are repaid through the cost-savings each recipient receives through retrofitting.
Entities with renewable energy efficiency projects are strongly encouraged to apply for funding through this new program. These can include the installation of rooftop solar water and space heating systems, geothermal heat pumps, and small wind and solar-thermal systems.
The deadline for submitting applications is August 31, 2020. For more information, visit www.comptroller.texas.gov/programs/seco/funding/101819/
Clean fleets funding reopened for DFW
NCTCOG has reopened the Clean Fleets North Texas 2019 Call for Projects with approximately $700,000 available in grant funding. The deadline to apply for funding is February 14, 2020.
Eligible applicants include local governments and private companies that contract with local governments. Activities can include the replacement of on-road diesel vehicles and non-road diesel equipment, such as sweepers, crawler tractors, excavators and rubber tire loaders.
Funding levels are as follows:
45% for electric vehicles and equipment
35% for vehicles/equipment powered by an engine that meets the California Air Resource Board’s optional low-NOx standards
25% for all others
for more information on this funding opportunity.
UAS workshops begin January 18
Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) devices are showing up faster than rules can be made for them. In North Texas alone, there are more than 20,000 unmanned aircraft systems registered.
The recent growth in this evolving field has brought these devices, also known as drones, to the masses, and safe operation for all those involved quickly became a top priority.
From professional operators to those who see drones flying near their home, it is becoming imperative that all North Texans be aware of the rules and regulations, best practices, and where to fly these devices.
NCTCOG is hosting the first of a series of drone workshops at 10 am January 18 at its Arlington offices, 616 Six Flags Drive.
Over the next two years, 12 free drone workshops will be held in a variety of locations across North Texas. For information on locations, times and dates, visit www.northtexasuas.com
Attendees will learn the rules and regulations how to register their drones, and tips on operation, including pre-flight planning and conducting a safe flight.
NCTCOG has been working with partners on issues related to this evolving technology. The workshops are currently being sponsored by various UAS industry stakeholders. The workshops are also being supported by the North Texas UAS Safety and Integration Task Force.
The taskforce was organized to serve as an information “clearinghouse” for academia, public- and private-sector entities and the general public.
To address integration issues and carry out solutions, the task force has formed working groups focused on education and public awareness, legislation, training and integration.