Johnson County mobility to get big face lift
If you live in North Texas and are old enough to drive, you’ve most likely experienced the annoyance that is Interstate 35W. The highway, which is the butt of many jokes and seems to be perpetually under construction, seems to be backed up at any given point in the day. That means the roadways in Johnson County, where more than 167,000 people call home (census.org), aren’t going to become any less congested soon, as the population is expected to increase to 262,000 by 2045.
However, Kevin Feldt, a program manager with the North Central Texas Council on Governments, said there is hope on the horizon. That hope is called Mobility 2045, a long-range metropolitan transportation plan.
Feldt said that Mobility 2045 will ease the congested roadways in Johnson County.
“There will be several capacity improvements on the roadways which will allow for better movement and mobility through the county,” he said. “We are planning a vast public transportation project which includes a passenger rail service from Cleburne to Fort Worth which will help improve transportation to downtown Fort Worth.”
There will, however, be some challenges for such a large mobility project. The burgeoning population, for example. Feldt said that the current infrastructure system is having problems keeping up with such growth.
“Johnson County is growing very quickly,” Feldt said. “That is not unusual overall as the state has traditionally added 1 million people to the population per decade. Additionally, it takes us quite awhile to implement projects. We try to think far enough in advance.”
Feldt said, for example, the Chisholm Trail Parkway project. The 27-mile toll-road starts in Cleburne and ends at Vickery Boulevard, near TCU.
“That was in the planning process for almost 30 years before it was open to traffic,” Feldt said.
While Feldt feels that Johnson County and Burleson would best benefit from a passenger rail system, he knows that not everyone will want to take the train.
“One of the things we are really focusing on is the availability of transportation options. Once we provide those options, we need to make sure we have proper connections such as sidewalks, bus lanes and bike paths,” Feldt said.
The environment is also being taken into consideration with this project. Every time a project of this magnitude is considered, an environmental impact statement must be completed, Feldt said.
“There are some very rigorous analysis that we do,” he said. “This ensures that we don’t impact the nesting grounds of certain endangered species. We also don’t want to negatively impact certain ethnic or minority groups.”
Check back next week for part two of this three-part series, as the Burleson Star explores how Mobility 2045 will be paid for and how public transportation will improve the lives of residents.