Parker County Judge Mark Riley was elected chair of the Regional Transportation Council on Thursday and will lead the 44 member transportation policymaking body for the next year.
Riley, who has served as vice chair for the past year, replaces Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell, whose one-year term has expired. Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen was named vice chair, and Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke is the new secretary.
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 RTC guides the development of roadway, rail and bicycle-pedestrian plans and programs; allocates transportation funds; and recommends projects to the Texas Transportation Commission for other programs.
The RTC also ensures transportation services are coordinated throughout the region and the metropolitan area complies with air quality regulations. Ten Dallas-Fort Worth area counties are in nonattainment for ozone and have until 2018 to meet the federal standard.
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A member of the RTC since 2008, Riley is serving his fifth term as Parker County judge. He has been an advocate for local and regional transportation improvements while in office. In 2008, Parker County voters passed an $80 million bond package to fund transportation improvements for the growing county, which has an estimated population of 124,630. This included construction of the 5.6-mile Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, a western loop around Weatherford.
Riley assumes leadership of the RTC following a legislative session that saw transportation funding increased across the state. In November, voters will consider Senate Joint Resolution 5, a proposed constitutional amendment that could add $2.5 billion per year in state sales tax by September 2017. Additional funding is expected by September 2019, when a percentage of the state motor vehicle sales tax is earmarked for transportation.
The Legislature also approved an end of diversions of the gas tax to some non-transportation areas of the budget and restored full funding to the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program.
SJR 5 follows the voter-approved injection of more than $1 billion per year through Proposition 1 in November 2014, which is helping the region build long-planned projects such as an interchange at Interstate Highway 30 and State Highway 360.
The additional funding will help NCTCOG and its partners continue to improve the multimodal transportation system of the fast-growing Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is expected to welcome more than 3.5 million new residents by 2040, pushing its population to 10.6 million.
The newly elected officers will serve through June 2016.
About the North Central Texas Council of Governments:
NCTCOG 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's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions.