Fort Worth City Councilmember Ann Zadeh was named secretary of the Regional Transportation Council (RTC). Zadeh was appointed to the RTC in 2017.
Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon was elected chair 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. 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.
Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel is the new vice chair after serving as secretary for the past year. Daniel has been a member of the RTC since 2018.
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 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 Texas and South Texas to determine how cities along the bustling I-35 corridor could be connected by high-speed transportation.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released population estimates as of July 1, 2019. According to these estimates, Fort Worth’s population is 909,585 and the city is ranked 13th nationwide, with 11,032 more people than 14th-ranked Columbus, Ohio, and 1,922 fewer than 12th-ranked Jacksonville, Fla.
Fort Worth’s population has surpassed three cities since 2017, first moving up from 16th in 2017, then to 15th in 2018 and 13th in 2019.
Fort Worth added 164,761 residents since the 2010 Census base estimate, equating to 22% growth since 2010.
Seattle has been the fastest growing large city (more than 500,000 population) since 2010, with 24% growth between 2010 and 2019, while Fort Worth and Austin are tied for second-fastest-growing large city.
Fort Worth is estimated to have added 16,369 people between July of 2018 and July of 2019, equating to 45 people per day.
The draft estimate of Fort Worth’s population by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is 873,130 as of Jan. 1, 2020. NCTCOG and the U.S. Census Bureau use different data sources, methodologies and timeframes for producing annual estimates, and both revise past annual estimates when producing new estimates.
Mayor Betsy Price declared a state of emergency and an 8 p.m. curfew in the interest of public health and safety. The nighttime curfew is established for all of Fort Worth, including public places and streets, beginning June 1. The nightly curfew will begin at 8 p.m. and will end at 6 a.m. the following morning.
“First, I want to acknowledge the injustice and tragic death of George Floyd and the mourning we are experiencing as a community and nation. I also want to commend those individuals who have assembled over the past couple of days to peacefully exercise their first amendment rights,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “It is important that we remain respectful of each other and our community. Unfortunately, there were individuals who displayed blatant disregard for the welfare of others – which is why we are enacting an 8 p.m. curfew.”
During the hours of curfew, travel on public streets or in any public place is prohibited. However, first responders and news media personnel are exempt. People traveling to and from work or school or seeking medical attention are also exempt.
Violating the curfew is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine up to $500.
The declaration of emergency is in place for up to 72 hours unless it is continued by the Fort Worth City Council.
The City Council’s Tuesday, June 2 meeting is rescheduled for Thursday, June 4 at 3 p.m. to accommodate the curfew and allow for residents to speak before Council. Residents can register to speak online or by phone during the resident comment portion of the meeting. Due to COVID-19 and the public health precautions in place, residents are encouraged to participate virtually for public comment. The City Council work session will still take place Tuesday, June 2 at 3 p.m. For questions about the declaration and curfew, residents and businesses can call 817-392-8478.
Because of the current curfew, the June 2 City Council meeting has been moved to June 4. The meeting will now begin at 3 p.m.
For the first time since March, the City Council chambers will be open to the public. Meetings have been conducted in a virtual format since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitors to City Hall must undergo a temperature check and health screening upon entering the building and masks or face coverings are required. To promote social distancing, seating will be limited in the Chambers. Residents planning to make an in-person presentation should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the meeting to allow time for screening and ensure seating is available.
Though in-person comments will be allowed at the 3 p.m. Council meeting, you may also call in to speak on an agenda item or during the public presentation portion of the agenda. To sign up to speak, use the link on the agenda,PDF File call 817-392-6150 or email the City Secretary. The deadline to sign up to speak is 1 p.m. on June 4.
Members of the City Council may be participating remotely in compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, Council Rules of Procedure, or under the provisions provided by the governor of Texas in conjunction with the Declaration of Disaster enacted March 13, 2020.
The Council work session will be on June 2 at 3 p.m. in Room 290 at City Hall, 200 Texas St. The Council meeting will be June 4 at 3 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall.
The June 9 Council meetings have been canceled.
To help control the flow of people and to distribute guests throughout the day, the Fort Worth Zoo will temporarily enact a reservations system when it reopens on May 29.
All guests, including members, must reserve tickets online for each member of their party and must select a designated time slot. Membership cards and timed tickets will be checked on entry. No tickets will be sold at the zoo.
Social distancing among all zoo staff and guests is vital. The zoo will have visual reminders placed to ensure guests are maintaining a safe social distance along the pathways.
Per state and county officials’ suggestions, guests are strongly encouraged to wear facemasks while visiting the zoo. (Please bring your own.) All zoo staff working in the park must wear masks.
Guests will not have access to some high-touch attractions and areas of the zoo, including some rides, animal feedings, playgrounds, water fountains and misters. Staff will continuously clean high-touch surfaces like vending machines, tables, chairs and more. Guests are encouraged to wash their hands after encountering those areas. In addition to restrooms located throughout the zoo, some hand-washing stations are positioned throughout the park.
If a guest feels sick, they should not visit the zoo.
Trinity Metro will receive $55 million as part of the CARES Act funding for public transportation. The Regional Transportation Council approved the funding, which can be used for financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trinity Metro’s $55,161,034 will be used to offset losses in the operating budget from decreased sales tax and fare box revenue. The money will also be used for COVID-19 expenses that were incurred to protect passengers and employees.
“The grant funds will primarily cover salaries, wages and lost revenues,” said Bob Baulsir, CEO and president of Trinity Metro. “Most importantly, the money will be used for the health benefits and protections for our employees and customers to ensure Trinity Metro maintains a safe and healthy working and riding environment.”
The funding is part of the $2 trillion CARES Act signed into law on March 27. From the CARES Act, the Federal Transit Administration received $25 billion for transit providers to respond to the crisis.
The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Urbanized Area received $318 million, which is allocated among 11 transit providers. The North Central Texas Council of Governments received the funds for the region and is the designated entity for distributing the money to the area’s providers.
As many organizations have done during the COVID-19 crisis, Blue Zones Project has pivoted from its more traditional work to projects that align with immediate and emerging needs in the community.
Blue Zones Project, now under the umbrella of Texas Health Resources’ North Texas Healthy Communities, is a community-led well-being improvement initiative based on creating permanent and semi-permanent changes to man-made surroundings that impact lifestyle and culture. Since March, however, Blue Zones Project has been focused on meeting the pressing food and health concerns of Fort Worth residents.
Vice President Matt Dufrene outlined some of the ways the organization has adjusted in recent weeks:
Engagement efforts have gone virtual, and staff members are deploying new online tools and resources.
The organization has made extensive use of social media to support community and partner needs. Topics include family support resources, engagement for children, downshifting and mental health activities (such as its 10@10 segments), and information about community resources, with an emphasis on food and other emergency needs.
Blue Zones Project has implemented extensive emergency support for broad community food insecurity efforts. This includes immediately shifting resources from programming to responding to community needs.
The organization has provided volunteer, in-kind and financial support, primarily focused on food insecurity. Blue Zones Project has provided financial support for 2,000 meals for 1,200 families affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club; expedited purchase of a commercial refrigerator purchase for LVTRise to support emergency food distribution; provides ongoing assistance with volunteer food delivery; and continues to support two Healthy School Pantries. Additional support has been committed to mobilize grocery bag distribution in targeted ZIP codes, providing 3,600 bags over the next four weeks.
“Blue Zones Project now has over 350 partner organizations across Fort Worth, and tens of thousands of individuals that we regularly engage with,” Dufrene said. “We know that many of these organizations, families and individuals are facing increased struggles as a result of COVID-19. We want to continue to support our diverse community from a health and wellness perspective while being especially responsive to acute food access needs.”
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has canceled the 30th anniversary season of its Concerts in the Garden series due to COVID-19 concerns and in accordance with city and health professionals’ recommendations.
The summer music festival had been scheduled to present 15 evening performances in June and July at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.
In addition, Performing Arts Fort Worth has canceled performances at Bass Performance Hall until a date to be determined.
Patrons with tickets to canceled performances have the option to place the value of their tickets as a credit on account for use next season, donate them back as a tax-deductible donation or receive a refund.
To learn more, contact the symphony box office at 817-665-6000.
Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation extending his disaster declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued March 13 and extended April 12, the disaster declaration provides a number of resources as the state continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Fort Worth’s disaster declaration is also extended for an additional 30 days, until June 11, to ensure it is in compliance with in conformance with the statewide declaration by Gov. Abbott.
View the governor’s proclamation.PDF File
“As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority remains the health and safety of all Texans,” Abbott said. “By extending the disaster declaration, we are ensuring that Texas has the resources and capabilities in place to safely and strategically open the state while containing the spread of this virus. As we move forward in our response, I urge all Texans to continue following the health and safety guidelines laid out by the CDC and Texas’ team of medical experts.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will award $748,234 to Fort Worth Housing Solutions to support its work in assisting Fort Worth residents through HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. These funds come directly from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third coronavirus relief package signed into law.
“Many public housing agencies on the frontlines of ensuring that all in our communities are safe and with shelter have seen their own resources impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as have the low-income families, seniors and those with disabilities who they serve,” U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth said.
“I’m happy to see that the Housing Authority of Fort Worth (now Fort Worth Housing Solutions) is receiving nearly $750,000 to help support the health and safety of the individuals and families receiving assistance through HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. These grants will provide the Housing Authority of Fort Worth with the added resources it needs to keep our most at-risk populations healthy and safe throughout these trying times.”
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