For 13 years, I’ve been privileged to host the Tarrant Transportation Summit, and I’ve come away from every experience impressed at the mobility advancements and the great minds we attract to Tarrant County and our state. The Feb. 17 summit at the Hurst Conference Center was no exception. Our audience of 600-plus came away excited to see the progress being made today and what the future holds for mobility in Tarrant County.
Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare summed up the county’s place in future transportation initiatives: “My goal is to ensure that those in this room today – entrepreneurs, innovators, public officials, policymakers and partners – have the tools needed to propel Tarrant County to even greater heights.”
This year’s theme was “Automate, Accelerate, Elevate & Innovate: The Center of Global Mobility.” From our panelists to our keynote speaker, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation, the summit this year focused on how Tarrant County’s environment allows innovators and entrepreneurs to test and implement the latest technologies with our local communities reaping the benefits. Our audience learned what technology and tools are being used to advance mobility locally and globally through insightful speakers and panelists.
Our panelists discussed the importance of the present and future of mobility in Tarrant County. To discuss how automation is making our supply chains resilient and robust – key elements in keeping commerce flowing and our national security strong – we were fortunate to have Michael Morris, Transportation Director at the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Brant Ring, CEO of ConGlobal; and Tyler Duval, CEO and Co-Founder of Cavnue. The panel discussed a proposal to use technology and existing infrastructure to automate logistics operations in the Alliance area. Autonomous vehicles, said Mr. Duval, are already being used in heavy industrial environments around the world and could benefit supply chain security and resiliency.
We received an update on how the 2021 Tarrant County bond election is putting needed funding into vital transportation projects around the county. Describing the recent transportation bond, Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius said, “So when you look at our bond program, we tried to become more extensive than we were in 2006.” Fort Worth Interim Director of Transportation and Public Works Lauren Prieur expressed enthusiasm for the projects that the city would be able to complete with its bond program.
DFW International Airport Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Development John Ackerman and Alliance Aviation President Christian Childs spoke about the impressive investments their airports are making. DFW Airport weathered the COVID-19 pandemic without layoffs and has emerged stronger than before, with terminal improvements on the way. Similarly, Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport experienced tremendous growth and is becoming a test area for exciting new aviation technologies.
Speaking for TxDOT, Caroline Mays addressed how multimodal transportation can aid economic development. Ms. Mays reviewed how our state’s tremendous population growth has fueled transportation demands across multiple modes of transportation. “TxDOT is in the business of multimodal transportation planning to facilitate multimodal movement of people and goods throughout the state of Texas,” she said.
This year, we recognized two of our sponsors, Cintra TEXpress and Hillwood, for their longstanding support for the Tarrant Transportation Summit and for improving transportation in Tarrant County and across the state.
Our speakers and panelists were an experienced group of mobility innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers, including: Russell Laughlin, Executive Vice President, Hillwood; Victor Vandergriff, Executive Director, Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition; Johan C. Petterson, Principal, Corporate Development, DEC; Lindsay Mullins, Executive Director, State Government Affairs, BNSF Railway; Robert Hinkle, Director of Corporate Affairs, NTE Mobility Partners LLC and LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC; Tyler Duvall, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Cavnue; Michael Morris, PE, Transportation Director, North Central Texas Council of Governments; Brant Ring, Chief Executive Officer, ConGlobal; G.K. Maenius, County Administrator, Tarrant County; Lauren Prieur, Interim Director, Transportation and Public Works, City of Fort Worth; John Ackerman, Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Development, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; Christian Childs, President, Alliance Aviation Companies; Caroline Mays, AICP, Director, Planning and Modal Programs, Texas Department of Transportation; Brooke Akins, Director of Global ESG, Cintra; Craig Hulse, Director of Economic Development, North Richland Hills; John Huffman, Mayor, Southlake; Tim O’Hare, Tarrant County Judge.
Gary Fickes has been a member of the Tarrant County Commissioners Court since 2006 representing Precinct 3, which includes two major airports and several major freeways. He is a former mayor of Southlake and past chair of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition and Regional Transportation Council through the North Central Texas Council of Governments.