A couple of weeks ago, the Texas State Demographer released population estimates through 2050 and announced that the state’s population will double (yes, you read that right) to 54.4 million during the next 35 years.
Of course, with more people comes a greater need for added infrastructure, at both state and local levels. In cities like Arlington and Grand Prairie, this growth will especially impact our communities, because neither city has a comprehensive public transit system.
As I have expressed many times in the past, the issue of mass transit is of critical importance to our district. I have filed two pieces of legislation to try and find solutions to this issue and to arm our local officials with the tools they need.
The first bill would direct the highly-respected Texas A&M Transportation Institute to conduct a comprehensive study of Arlington and Grand Prairie’s transit needs and once assessed, outline what opportunities exist to address those needs.
One of the challenges, of course, is how to fund mass transit in Arlington and Grand Prairie. In order to join a transit authority, like The T or DART, a city must be able to allocate — with voter approval — a certain amount of their sales tax to pay the cost of public transit in their community. Right now, because of existing commitments, neither Arlington nor Grand Prairie has sufficient room in their sales tax to join either transit authority. As a result, even if they want to, neither city can bring the issue to the voters for approval. The second measure I filed would allow cities to seek voter approval to be added to a transit authority, even before the needed sales tax is available. If approved by the voters, once there’s enough sales tax available, they could be admitted into the transit authority.
These are two steps in the right direction, but of course, it will take a cooperative effort and it is imperative that we all work together to find solutions. Your input is important to this effort and I look forward to hearing from you.
P.S. If you’re interested in joining our Transportation Task Force, call Tammy at 817-459-2800.