Many Fort Worth roadways are in disrepair or underdoing repairs. That’s not news.
But what some motorists may not realize is the importance of smooth surfaces for a seamless economy.
“That’s the message we’re trying to get out,” said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, associate director of research and communication for TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.
Fort Worth and other cities paid TRIP nothing for a new report listing the 100 improvements most needed for Texas roads and bridges to ensure the state’s economic growth.
Fifteen of those are in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.
“If these are not done, the state’s economy may suffer,” Kelly said in an interview.
If the state’s roads continue to deteriorate, Kelly said, businesses will be less likely to consider Texas for relocation or expansion of existing operations.
“It also puts a financial burden on businesses and residents because they are paying more to ship their goods and is costing them in terms of additional fuel consumption and other expenses,” Kelly said.
A Fort Worth official who is no stranger to transportation needs agreed with the study’s findings.
“They’re not surprising,” said District 6 City Councilman Jungus Jordan, who is also a board member of the North Texas Commission and vice chairman of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition’s executive committee.
“There are a lot of needed improvements on the list, but obviously I felt there were some omissions important to us, too,” Jordan said.
Among those is Interstate 30 west of downtown, especially as it heads out to the Walsh Ranch residential development.
What many consider needed improvements already have been identified, but funding remains the challenge. That’s the case with Interstate 35W between downtown and Riverside Drive.
Most of 35W north of downtown is under construction or awaiting construction, but the portion just north of the city’s urban heart lacks funding – for now.
“We’re hopeful that the state Legislature will be successful in bringing forward additional funding,” said Jordan. He was aware that the Texas Department of Transportation has identified $5 billion in additional funding needed for infrastructure improvements.
When 80 percent of Texas voters approved Proposition 1 in November, they expressed an urgency for transportation funding. That constitutional amendment diverted half of the general revenue generated from oil and gas taxes to fund road repairs and to help maintain public roads.
Only three of the 15 Dallas-Fort Worth projects listed on the TRIP report pertain specifically to Fort Worth. One would expand Texas 183/Texas 114. That $3.3 billion project would expand 20 miles of Texas 183 in Tarrant and Dallas counties to include eight general-purpose lanes.
The project would enhance mobility and promote economic development in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport area, as well as in Irving and Dallas, TRIP said.
The second Fort Worth-specific project would widen 1.2 miles of North Tarrant Express frontage from Interstate 30 to Northside Drive, while adding connections to downtown. TRIP research says the project would improve safety and reliability while relieving congestion and improving access into downtown.
The third project would rebuild and widen the Interstate 20-Loop 820-U.S. 287 Interchange at a cost of $1.1 billion. The current interchange, which serves several major corridors, has what TRIP called an outdated design and limited capacity. The recommended project would improve safety, reliability and travel times, TRIP said.
The complete TRIP report may be viewed at http://www.tripnet.org/