Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon was elected chair of the Regional Transportation Council June 11 and will lead the 44-member transportation policymaking body for the next year.
Harmon replaces Denton County Judge Andy Eads, who has chaired the RTC through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will continue to be an important issue as officials at all levels of government determine how to respond, the council said in a news release.
Harmon, who was appointed to the RTC in 2001, will also lead the RTC during the 87th Texas Legislative Session, which begins in January.
Transportation funding is likely to be a focus of the next session as governments grapple with the changes in travel patterns and economic challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and determine how to continue to meet the needs of residents no matter how they choose to travel, the news release said.
The RTC is part of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel is the new vice chair after serving as secretary for the past year. Fort Worth City Councilmember Ann Zadeh was named secretary. Daniel has been a member of the RTC since 2018; Zadeh was appointed in 2017. The new officers will serve in their positions through June 2021.
As the transportation policymaking body for the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth area, the RTC oversees transportation planning for the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country.
The region has a population of more than 7.5 million people and is expected to grow to more than 11 million by 2045. The RTC guides the development of roadway, rail and bicycle-pedestrian plans and programs; allocates transportation funds; and recommends projects to the Texas Transportation Commission.
The RTC also ensures transportation services are coordinated throughout the region and the metropolitan area complies with air quality regulations. Dallas-Fort Worth is currently in nonattainment for ozone and is working toward meeting the federal standards.
The policymaking body’s collaborative approach has helped the region develop a world-class, multimodal transportation system that provides residents choices of how to travel to work, school and recreational activities, the news release said.
The RTC has also embraced technology as it seeks to pursue innovative ways to move people, such as high-speed transportation. It is currently examining high-speed options between Dallas and Fort Worth, including Arlington. High-speed rail, hyperloop technology and magnetic levitation are among the options that could be considered.
Additionally, the RTC is collaborating with metropolitan planning organizations between North and South Texas to determine how cities along the bustling Interstate Highway 35 corridor could be connected by high-speed transportation.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development.
NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered on the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Currently, NCTCOG has 238 member governments including 16 counties, 169 cities, 22 school districts and 31 special districts.
– FWBP Staff