Meeting to discuss HUD grant progress, opportunities

Learn how Department of Housing and Urban Development grants have benefited the Fort Worth community in the past and discover new opportunities for the future at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at City Hall, 200 Texas St. The meeting will be in room 290.

Topics will include City Council priorities and goals; 2017-18 program accomplishments; community development projects; affordable housing developments; and public service agency funding.

To learn more about the city’s Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report, known as CAPER, contact Sharon Burkley at 817-392-5785 or visit the website.

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Two seasoned professionals join Transportation & Public Works Department

Fort Worth’s Transportation & Public Works Department added two members to its leadership team. They join the staff in January.

Brooks

Tanya Brooks

Tanya Brooks will be assistant director overseeing the Traffic Management Division. In her new role she will be responsible for maintaining and operating the city’s parking, signal, street lighting, pavement markings and street signage programs, as well as the transportation and engineering planning sections.

Brooks is currently assistant director responsible for the Mobility Planning Division in Dallas’ Department of Transportation. She has worked for the City of Dallas for 20 years in transportation planning in the departments of Public Works and Transportation, Sustainable Development and Construction and Planning and Urban Design. She oversees Mobility Planning Division activities covering a wide range of services essential to economic viability and growth.

Brooks was a pioneer in the City of Dallas advocating for streets as corridors for all modes of transportation and led the Complete Streets Initiative. She specializes in complete streets planning, conceptual design and project implementation, especially retrofitting existing transportation corridors. She is an accomplished leader in forming multidisciplinary teams to enhance how multimodal transportation networks contribute to healthy, vibrant and livable communities by creating streets that facilitate walking and bicycling. The Complete Streets Design Manual received the 2015 Urban Design Award from the Greater Dallas Planning Council and was adopted by the Dallas City Council in 2016.

This year, Brooks led the effort for Dallas to become a full member of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, whose mission is to build a strong network of peers and foster open communication and collaboration between cities. Brooks works in close collaboration with multiple agencies, including Dallas Area Rapid Transit, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Dallas County, Texas Department of Transportation, McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, where she is currently a board member, to develop and implement a comprehensive and efficient multimodal transportation system.

Brooks holds a master of public policy degree from the University of Northern Iowa and received her bachelor of science degree in transportation from Southern University.

Edwards

Chad Edwards

Chad Edwards will be the mobility and innovation officer. He comes to Fort Worth with nearly 20 years of experience in transportation planning. Most recently, Edwards was assistant vice president of capital planning at Dallas Area Rapid Transit, where he had oversight of several areas, including corridor development, feasibility assessments, transit system planning and travel demand modeling.

Edwards also managed the agency’s $36 million General Planning Consultant Contract, where outside consulting services are utilized to support transit corridor, system, environmental and transit-oriented/economic development planning work.

Recent efforts included project development for extending station platforms along the Red and Blue light-rail lines; refining a locally preferred alternative for the Downtown Dallas Second Light Rail Alignment (D2 Subway); completing the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cotton Belt Corridor Passenger Rail Line and developing the next DART Transit System Plan.

Prior to DART, Edwards worked as a transportation planner for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the region’s metropolitan planning organization. His activities included air quality planning and conformity determinations, thoroughfare planning, transit/rail planning and coordinating the region’s long-range transportation plan.

Edwards is a member of the American Planning Association. He earned a bachelor degree in geography at Texas Tech University and later earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Fort Worth releases Amazon HQ2 incentive package

The City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce released details of a presentation sent to Amazon last fall highlighting the benefits of Fort Worth as a business destination and outlining an incentive proposal worth $443.2 million from the city.

The City of Fort Worth offered a Chapter 380 economic development grant worth up to $438 million based on Amazon’s $750 million in capital investment and at least 10,000 jobs. The city also included $1.5 million in fee waivers and a $3.75 million Enterprise Zone nomination. Through that partnership program of the state and a municipality, approved projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures at the business site. The level and amount of the refund is related to the capital investment amount and number of jobs created, and the Amazon HQ2 project was offered the maximum amount allowed.

“I think our package was competitive to other communities,” said Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. “It’s like the Super Bowl; There are lots of bright lights and extra attention, but it’s the same game you’ve played a thousand times before. You don’t win or lose a project on incentives alone. The criteria and approach businesses use to determine a potential expansion or relocation do not change.”

The city offered to reimburse up to 90 percent of incremental taxes on real and business property for 20 years. Tarrant County offered to abate up to 70 percent of those taxes over 10 years.

Fort Worth partners also offered to help secure discounted airfare and a dedicated service and check-in station for Amazon employees at DFW International Airport, and to work with Amazon on the installation of Smart City and Smart Building technology for HQ2.

Seven qualified sites were proposed in Sundance Square, Panther Island, AllianceTexas, Walsh, Clearfork and Overland. Fort Worth touted access to abundant and diverse talent, STEM education efforts and university partners, effortless logistics and multimodal travel, and a community spirit that “defies expectations.”

Going forward, Gengelbach says the region may be using new ideas generated by the Amazon pitch, such as a split headquarters between Dallas and Fort Worth with the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail connecting the two. This approach would leverage the full strength of the DFW metroplex, allow more efficient use of community resources and maximize the region’s labor force.

“We are currently working with more than 60 potential projects for the Fort Worth area that range in employee count and investment, with 25 percent of the pipeline from existing businesses,” he said. “We are also managing projects and doing deals in communities outside of the Fort Worth city limits, communicating with our regional partners almost daily.”

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Lane closures near TCU scheduled for construction activities

If you have plans in the TCU area, stay alert for lane closures.

Beginning Dec. 1, various lanes are being shut down on both Stadium Drive and Bellaire Drive North, as utility work continues for the new TCU Administration Building, set to break ground in February. This utility work is expected to be complete by the middle of December.

Detours will be indicated by signage.

Dec. 1-2: Eastbound lanes on Stadium Drive will close; westbound lanes temporarily serve as two-way traffic lanes.
Dec. 8-9: Westbound lanes of Stadium Drive will close; eastbound lanes temporarily serve as two-way traffic lanes.
Dec. 10-14: The bicycle lane on the north side of Bellaire Drive North, west of Stadium Drive, will close.

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Workshop seeks input on statewide shipping needs

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is hosting a series of statewide freight workshops to solicit input from freight shippers, carriers, facility operators and the general public about truck parking and freight infrastructure design issues, needs and potential solutions. The workshops will feature displays and a brief presentation and opportunity to provide feedback.

One of the meetings is scheduled for 8:30-11 a.m. Dec. 11 at TCC-Alliance Airport, 2301 Horizon Drive in Fort Worth.

TxDOT is conducting two studies that focus on truck parking and freight infrastructure design issues and solutions. These studies are part of the Texas Freight Mobility Plan implementation. The purpose of the truck parking study is to assess and address truck parking needs with practical, innovative and cost-effective strategies. Texas’ transportation system was built over multiple decades; even now, some of our roadways are not up to today’s standards. Infrastructure design such as pavement, bridges, intersections and access to multimodal facilities will also be studied.

Interested attendees are asked to register for the workshop and take a quick online survey about truck parking and infrastructure design issues.

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Preparedness only takes a few minutes

Be truthful with yourself: if a natural disaster or massive terrorist act happened in Fort Worth, are you and your family prepared to seek shelter in your residence for an extended period? If your answer is no, it’s never too late to start preparing.

While the likelihood of a major disaster or a large-scale terrorist act happening in Fort Worth is small, there is still a chance. Severe weather can strike at any time of the year in North Central Texas. Remember the tornado that struck Garland on Dec. 26, 2015, and the cobblestone ice storm of 2013?

Manufacturing and transportation accidents involving dangerous materials happen frequently on a smaller scale, and there are plenty of opportunities for people with bad intentions to make a name for themselves.

Residents of North Central Texas should take steps to prepare for any type of incident by making plans, building emergency kits for both their home and vehicle and practicing what actions they will take if the need arises. It’s always best to be prepared for uninvited trouble, whether it comes or not.

You can get preparedness information and tips by visiting the regional KnoWhat2Do website.

Residents can also help local law enforcement by keeping an eye out for suspicious activities in their workplace and neighborhoods. Call 911 for emergencies, or in a non-emergency situation, call 817-392-4222.

If you hear something or read a social media post about someone planning or threatening violent attacks, contact the Fort Worth Police/Homeland Security Unit hotline at 817-392-6677.

You are the eyes and ears of the community, so if you See Something, Say Something. Help keep Fort Worth safe.

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MedStar flu responses trending three times higher than last year

In the earliest weeks of the 2018-19 influenza season, MedStar crews already are responding to three times as many patients with flulike illnesses compared to last year.

Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 26, MedStar crews treated 226 patients with a primary or secondary clinical impression of influenza-like illness. This compares to 44 patients during the same time last year.

Among this year’s cases, the average age is 45, with the youngest 9 months and oldest 94 years; 57 percent of the patients are female. The highest-prevalence ZIP code in MedStar’s service area is 76112 in far east Fort Worth.

Between January and March 2018, MedStar crews responded to more than 1,100 patients with flulike illness.

To help reverse this early trend, MedStar will take a mobile flu vaccination clinic to any location with a group of 10 or more people to be vaccinated.

View flu prevention tips from the Tarrant County Public Health Department.

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Protect your pipes before freezing temperatures get here

North Texas can be a wild place when it comes to winter weather. Blizzards, subfreezing temperatures, (black) ice and snow — we can experience it all, and occasionally all on the same day.

Daytime forecasts for the next few weeks include upper 60s, even 70s; however, nighttime temperatures are getting closer to the freezing point. This means you need to make sure your loved ones are cozy and warm and that your home is well taken care of, as well.

Most North Texans know to insulate outdoor faucets and, in the case of a prolonged freezing snap, leave inside faucets on external walls dripping just a little to avoid freezing. If you are leaving town for a few days, the Fort Worth Water Department recommends leaving cabinet doors open so that water pipes on external walls are exposed to the heat. If you have pipes in an attic or crawlspace or any other exposed pipes outdoors, then they too need to be insulated.

It is also important to disconnect external faucets and insulate the valves.

More helpful tips:

  • Make sure all outside pipes are insulated. Most hardware stores sell inexpensive foam covers that do the job just right.
  • Check to see that pipes in unheated parts of your home or business (including crawl and attic spaces, under cabinets) are insulated.
  • Make sure outside faucet washers are secure.
  • Keep the lid on the meter box to better insulate it from freezing. If you are missing the lid to your meter box, call the Water Department.
  • Turn off or unplug your irrigation system during the winter to prevent ice on sidewalks or streets. Drain the lines to prevent them from freezing and bursting. It is best to call a licensed irrigator if you cannot do this yourself.
  • Commercial buildings with fire sprinklers should leave the heat on overnight and on weekends when subfreezing temperatures are forecast.
  • For residences, make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off valve is in case a pipe breaks and it is necessary to turn the water off in a hurry. Check this valve now to make sure it is working.
  • When going out of town, turn off your water supply at the gate valve on the resident’s side of the meter box and have a plumber do the necessary work to prepare pipes to prevent damage.
  • Keep extra water drawn up during freezing weather in case a main break or frozen pipe cuts off your water supply.

If you have no water and think it may be because of a frozen pipe, it is safest to call a plumber to handle the problem. The pipe may be cracked and will burst when thawed. Using an electrical appliance to heat the pipe could cause the pipe to burst, creating the risk of electrocution.

If you suspect a water main is broken, report the location immediately by calling 817-392-4477 so it can be repaired as soon as possible. Signs of a broken water main are water running down the street and buckled pavement. Don’t assume your neighbor called. Do not use email or social media to report main breaks as these are not constantly monitored, and this could cause a delayed response.

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Construction continues on Montgomery Street

Construction continues along Montgomery Street. The city’s Transportation and Public Works Department will update residents on the progress at a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at the University of North Texas Science Center, Medical Education & Training Building room 124N, located at 1000 Montgomery St.

After the roadway construction is complete, installation of sidewalks, lighting and landscaping will take place.

Construction activities will pause during the 2019 Stock Show and Rodeo and start again after Feb. 11, 2019. All construction is expected to be finished in time for the 2020 Stock Show and Rodeo.

To learn more, contact Project Manager Michael Weiss at 817-392-8485.

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