In Dallas, You Can Get a “Sustainability” Grant to Widen a Road

Image: North Central Texas Council of Governments
Want to widen a road in the Dallas region? You can get “Sustainable Development Funds.” Want to extend a transit line? No such luck. Image: North Central Texas Council of Governments

Some folks on Twitter have been having a laugh about these PowerPoint slides from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

But it’s more sad than funny. The slides outline what kinds of projects are eligible for the Dallas region’s Sustainable Development Funds, according to local planner Patrick Kennedy. More than $43 million was awarded for projects meeting these criteria between 2009 and 2010, the last time the funds were apparently awarded. (They were also awarded in 2001 and 2006.)

“The program is designed to encourage planning and foster growth and development in and around historic downtowns and Main Streets, infill areas, and along passenger rail lines and at stations,” COG explains on its website.

Notice how the top eligible item is “expanding roadway capacity.” And that road reconstruction — maintenance projects — is ineligible.

Even though we’ve singled out Dallas here, lots of agencies give out federal “Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Funds” for road widenings. Adding turn lanes is a federally eligible use. Point being, the federal government and many regional governments — Dallas among them — still accept the idea that widening roads will reduce congestion and thus improve air quality, despite all the evidence that it does the opposite.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    Funny thing about this statement: “The program is designed to encourage planning and foster growth and development in and around historic downtowns and Main Streets, infill areas, and along passenger rail lines and at stations,”

    If you look at the focus areas from the call for projects, it’s all highway side: http://www.nctcog.org/trans/sustdev/landuse/BestSouthwestTransportationCommittee_PM_06.18.09.pdf

  • ladyfleur

    “Expanding roadway capacity” is considered sustainable and “extensions to transit lines” isn’t? That in a nutshell is what’s wrong with traditional transportation policies. What are they thinking?

  • Nick Emenhiser

    NCTCOG has used this grant program to build thousands of units of TOD along DART lines. It just so happens that the grant program was broad enough to do TOD back when it was unpopular, as well as sprawl now that it is unpopular. It goes both ways.

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