The Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to experience robust growth, adding more than 146,000 people in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Four of the nation’s fastest-growing counties are in North Texas. A total of 7.4 million people reside in the region, according to the latest population estimates by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
With careful planning and coordination with regional, state and federal partners, the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) and North Central Texas Council of Governments staff are meeting the transportation challenges posed by this extensive growth. One challenge is providing reliable commutes, helping employees get to work in the morning and home in the evening.
“We are proud to be a region where transportation challenges are being met. This wouldn’t be possible without teamwork,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, who serves as chair of the 44-member Regional Transportation Council. “The Texas Department of Transportation, cities, public transit and other transportation partners are helping to keep Dallas-Fort Worth drivers moving, despite historic population growth across the region.”
Typically, growing metropolitan areas across the country experience significantly more congestion as their population increases and more cars hit the roads. However, that does not appear to be holding true for Dallas-Fort Worth in recent years. In fact, according to one measure of congestion, mobility is getting better.
The region’s congestion rating moved from seventh in the country to 10th in 2017, with drivers spending 54 hours in congestion, according to the Inrix Global Scorecard. This was an 8 percent improvement over 2016 and represented the biggest jump in dependability of any of the 10 most-congested regions. Drivers in Seattle (55 hours) and Washington, D.C. (63 hours), by comparison, experienced an increase in congestion.
Inrix attributed the improvement to projects such as 35 Express and the Horseshoe project in downtown Dallas. These projects represent just a snapshot of the congestion-reducing activity in Dallas-Fort Worth. Since 2000, the region has spent approximately $28 billion on construction of transportation projects.
TomTom, another company that uses data to measure traffic congestion, presents a slightly different picture of mobility, rating DFW No. 34 nationally over a three-year period ending in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. In Dallas-Fort Worth, motorists are on the roads 18 percent longer because of congestion. By comparison, Seattle traffic adds 34 percent more travel time and Washington, D.C., 29 percent.
The RTC recently approved Mobility 2045, a $136.4 billion plan outlining improvements through 2045. On the roadway side, $53.6 billion would be spent on projects.
In a region as large as Dallas-Fort Worth, a comprehensive approach to improving reliability is important. Significant funding is also reserved for transit, bicycle-pedestrian improvements and sustainable development programs, all aimed at reducing the demand on the roadway system. Using funding mechanisms provided by the Texas Legislature, the RTC will continue to coordinate with its local partners and the Texas Transportation Commission to advance projects that keep people moving reliably.
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