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Vandergriff prioritizes rail, transportation funding

 

A. Lee Graham
lgraham@bizpress.net

Hoping to ensure Fort Worth’s place in future commuter rail routing, state transportation officials have announced a committee to seek funding resources.

“The committee we appoint will be charged with making sure that [rail] lines get to Fort Worth if it gets to Dallas and also finding the money,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff.

Speaking at the 35W Coalition’s Jan. 15 annual meeting in north Fort Worth, the Arlington businessman and longtime transportation official acknowledged state funding woes while assuring a roomful of elected officials and businessmen that improving North Texas transportation infrastructure remains a priority.

As the son of former Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff, Victor acknowledged the bureaucracy inherent with public service. North Texans also know the younger Vandergriff for serving as a Tarrant County appointee to the North Texas Tollway Authority board from September 2007 to January 2013 and as its board chairman from 2010 to 2011.

As transportation commissioner, Vandergriff prioritizes rail, completion of the ongoing North Tarrant Express project and seeking funding for such projects as the area population continues to surge.

But raising vehicle registration fees and gas taxes would barely generate enough revenue, said Vandergriff in response to that idea.

Meanwhile, expected to alleviate area freeway congestion is the North Tarrant Express project, which is 79 percent complete, according to Robert Hinkle, director of corporate affairs for the NTE Mobility Partners on the project, spearheaded by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“We’re ahead of schedule,” Hinkle told meeting attendees.

The $2.5 billion project, planned to widen North Loop 820 and the Texas 121-183, is split into west and east segments, with the western portion between I-35W and Texas 121 and the eastern portion between Texas 121 and the city of Euless.

Plans call for rebuilding existing general-purpose traffic lanes, expanding frontage lanes and adding managed toll lanes. The project spans 13.5 miles from where downtown Fort Worth and Interstate 35W intersect with Euless.
 

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