May. 03, 2018 by Courtney Spellicy, Client Services & Development

What We Talk About When We Talk About Transportation Funding in DFW

For as long as I can remember, I-635 and I-35 have been under construction, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had questions about why. Why is it taking so long? When will the work be done, and when it is, how much will it have cost? Who will have paid for it?

On April 10, Christie Gotti, senior program manager with NCTCOG, stopped by The Real Estate Council’s offices to provide a primer to TREC’s Mobility Working Group on transportation project selection and funding.

In other words, she – as best she could – sought to answer the questions I’ve been asking for years.

Who is NCTCOG?

The North Central Texas Council of Governments was established over 50 years ago to allow local governments to coordinate transportation planning at a regional level instead of a piecemeal, city-by-city approach. A voluntary organization, it is comprised of 12 counties that cover 9,441 square miles with a population of approximately seven million people and represents 32 percent of the state’s economy.

How are transportation projects selected?

NCTCOG identifies a need, evaluates the best solutions to meet that need, and coordinates with transportation agencies (e.g. TxDOT, DART, NTTA, etc.) for planning efforts. An important part of this process is NCTCOG’s collaborative development of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which is a list of transportation projects with committed funding from federal, state, and local sources. The TIP is governed by Regional Transportation Council (RTC) policies to ensure it aligns with the RTC 10-Year Plan of Projects. A new TIP is developed every two years, BUT that doesn’t mean all the projects on it will be completed. NCTCOG evaluates the TIP quarterly (February, May, August, and November) and can adjust.

How are transportation projects funded?

Traditional funding sources include federal and state funding, which require a minimum 20 percent match. Local funding at the city or county level has fewer strings attached and the potential for faster implementation. Although controversial in some circles, a public-private partnership approach to large infrastructure projects are often successful partnerships. The LBJ Express project received $2.63 billion in private funding and $0.55 billion in public funding. They celebrated their one-year anniversary in 2016 by declaring 70 percent congestion relief with a 15 percent increase in speeds.

Transportation planning and mobility issues have considerable influence over the development process and impact everyone in commercial real estate. TREC’s Mobility Working Group has dedicated countless hours to researching transportation programs and policies to enable our members to make informed decisions when crafting our positions on major transportation initiatives. For example, member Sam Gillespie and his team led the effort for TREC’s analysis of Dallas’ CityMAP. We are grateful for their efforts.

With 12 years of experience in architecture, engineering, and construction, Courtney Spellicy has collaborated on various commercial projects using her skills in strategic planning, project management, business development, and preconstruction to concentrate on strategic client acquisitions in multiple markets. Courtney is heavily involved in several community organizations, currently serving as a City of Dallas Landmark Commissioner, Friends of Fair Park board and executive committee member, and the TREC Foundation and PAC boards, as well as the Leadership Alumni core committee.

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