H-GAC Transportation Newsletter: August 2020
Transportation Policy Council Meeting: July 24
At the Transportation Policy Council meeting on July 24, the council voted for the members of a workgroup that will outline the concepts for the memorandum of understanding between the main cooperating entities - Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Transportation Policy Council, City of Houston, Harris County, and Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) - in the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. The memorandum of understanding, which was recommended by the Transportation Advisory Committee, would define the roles of the key cooperating entities of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, outline the goals of the project, and affirm commitment by the cooperating entities to work collaboratively on advancing the project while addressing concerns about the project's impacts on communities along the highway.
The 16-member working group will consist of Waller County Pct. 4 Commissioner Justin Beckendorff; Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia; H-GAC Executive Director Chuck Wemple; Liberty County Development Authority administrator David Douglas; Houston City Council member David Robinson; TxDOT Houston District engineer Eliza Paul; Fort Bend County Pct. 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage; Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman; League City Council member Larry Millican; Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough; Waller City Council member Nancy Arnold; Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther; METRO Board of Directors Chair Carrin Patman; Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Russ Poppe; and Texas House Rep. Ed Thompson as an ex-officio member.
Catherine McCreight, senior project planner with TxDOT's Houston office, also presented to the council a new tool that will help transportation planners in designing the roadways, highways, and streets of the future. The Sustainable Ways to Integrate Future Transportation tool is an interactive, performance-based planning tool that allows users to simulate the future impacts of new transportation innovations and developments such as implementing autonomous vehicles, increased use of electric vehicles, improved transit, changes in commuter travel habits, population growth, land development, and environmental changes. By understanding the outcomes, planners and engineers can design roadways and multi-modal systems that will not only benefit future generations but also have a lasting impact on communities. The tool was developed from a sub-regional study, after which the tool is named, and it factors in global best practices and peer-reviewed analytics from major cities all over the world.
Towards the end of the meeting, the council heard presentations from H-GAC representatives on the region's Transportation Performance Measures report and scorecard, and on a recently-completed resiliency and durability assessment of critical transportation infrastructure in the eight-county Houston-Galveston metropolitan planning organization region. The study evaluated more than 7,000 miles of freeways, major streets, and bridges with waterways to determine which of those assets were most critical to the socioeconomic vitality of the region and their ability to stand up to extreme weather events. It found that about 9.5 miles of freeways and 48 miles of streets were especially critical and vulnerable to extreme weather. These included portions of I-45 and I-10 in the Houston area, Spencer Highway, FM 1960, Memorial Dr., SH 35, and sections of Broadway in Houston and in Galveston. The study recommended these areas should be prioritized for funding of future improvement projects.
To listen to the audio recording of the latest TPC meeting, click HERE. The next meeting is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m., Friday, Aug. 28 via teleconference webinar. Click HERE for more information. Public comments on agenda items may be sent by email to publiccomments@h-gac.com. Comments received by 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27 will be entered into the meeting record.
Tow and Go Service Expands to Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte, and Humble
H-GAC has expanded the service area of the Gulf Coast Regional Tow and Go™ Program. The service area now includes all camera-monitored freeways in Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte and Humble.

The Gulf Coast Regional Tow and Go™ Program provides motorists with no-cost towing when their vehicle breaks down from mechanical failure (e.g., out of gas, overheating, flat tire) in the main lanes, shoulders, ramps or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes of freeways in the Tow and Go service area.

H-GAC manages the Tow and Go Program through funding provided by the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation. Participants in the program include the City of Houston, Harris County, and representatives from the towing industry that operate out of Houston TranStar.

For more information about Tow and Go, including a list of FAQs and motorist guidelines, visit towandgo.com.
Commute Solutions Month is Going Virtual in September
September is Commute Solutions Month, and this year it is going virtual. Commuters will have the chance to participate in several fun online events and activities, including the new "Make Your Commute Count" game, webinars on teleworking and commute solutions for solo drivers, and our Bike to Work Week celebration.
Join us in September, and make your commute count this Commute Solutions Month by visiting yourcommutesolution.org.
Transportation Engineer Brenda Bustillos Discusses ConnectSmart Program at Latest Brown Bag Event
Brenda Bustillos, transportation engineer at the Texas Department of Transportation, discussed ConnectSmart at the latest Brown Bag webinar, held on Monday, Aug. 17.

ConnectSmart, a federally-funded program, aims to deploy the latest transportation technologies to change the way people think about traveling in the Greater Houston region. The program will culminate in an app scheduled to launch in 2021. This app would act as a single platform for users to plan out trips to work, events, or to run errands; view all types of transportation options available to them along their route (including carpooling, transit, and bike share options); and receive real-time information about traffic conditions. It would also include incentives for travelers to adopt alternative forms of transportation and a seamless pay feature allowing them to pay in advance for all the transportation options they plan to use in their trip.

TxDOT and transportation planners in the region would use data from the app to better understand traffic patterns and driving habits in the region, which would in turn help them better plan logistics for large events such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, increase safety in road construction work zones, and identify key areas to deploy new multi-modal transportation systems.

A recording of the webinar is available at the H-GAC webinar hub page. The next Brown Bag webinar will take place on Monday, Oct. 19 and will cover Vision Zero, the City of Houston's initiative to reduce traffic fatalities to zero.
Annual H-GAC Land Use/Transportation Workshop to Focus on Facilitating Parking for Livable Centers
H-GAC's annual Land Use/Transportation Workshop will focus on facilitating parking for Livable Centers. The workshop will take place online and feature two events on Thursday, Sept. 17 and Friday, Sept.18. Both events are free and open to the community.
Kick-Off Event: Thursday, Sept. 17 | 4:30-6 p.m.
Join H-GAC representatives, local parking experts, and community partners as we explore how the current environment and future innovations are affecting how we plan for parking as well as how parking may change how we develop in the Houston-Galveston region. Learn what topics are changing the way we think about parking and hear from our expert panel regarding COVID-19 impacts, autonomous vehicles, rideshare, and more. Learn more and register here.

Half-Day Workshop: Friday, Sept. 18 | 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Learn how you can invigorate main streets, downtown centers, or town centers with parking solutions that leverage your community's existing resources, enhance community context, and build partnerships that incentivize new investments based on your community needs. Gain expert insight, hear local case study examples, and uncover opportunities for future partnerships. Learn more and register here.
For more information about Livable Centers programs, events, and initiatives, visit h-gac.com/livable-centers or email livablecenters@h-gac.com.
Hurricane Preparedness Resources for Coastal Residents and Special Needs Individuals
H-GAC wants to make sure everyone in the region is prepared for hurricane season.

Residents who live in an evacuation zone are encouraged to download a printed and digital copy of the 2020 hurricane evacuation map to help determine the best route for them and their families if they are called to evacuate.

Visit TogetherAgainstTheWeather.com for tool kits and strategies on preparing your home and family for a hurricane or severe storm. The page also contains helpful materials for those caring for small children, special need individuals, and those with health conditions.
TxDOT to Host Virtual Public Meetings on FM 1960 Access Management Study
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will host three virtual public meetings Aug. 25-27 to gather input on the FM 1960 Access Management Study.

The study, which covers the 11-mile segment of FM 1960 from East Gatewick (just east of I-45) to Business Farm to Market 1960A (east of I-69) in Harris County, has identified several opportunities for improvements that will reduce crashes, improve mobility, and support existing and future developments. Residents and stakeholders are invited to give their feedback on the proposed improvements.

Representatives from TxDOT will discuss the study findings, recommendations, and provide attendees the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. The virtual public meetings will take place on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 25 | 6-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 26 | 6-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 27 | 6-8 p.m.

For more information about the virtual public meetings and how attend, visit the TxDOT website. Click HERE for more information about the FM 1960 Access Management Study.
Individuals with Disabilities Invited to Take Survey on TxDOT Accessibility Program
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Through its accessibility program, the Texas Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring that its programs, services, activities, and facilities are all inclusive, non-discriminatory, and fully accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities and stakeholders are invited to complete a survey to provide feedback on the agency's efforts, and to share their experiences using transportation services and visiting TxDOT facilities. The survey is available in English and in Spanish:

This survey will be open until Sept. 30, 2020.

For more information about the survey or about the accessibility program, contact Jannie Blackmon at 713-802-5008 or Jannie.Blackmon@txdot.gov.
Use Mobility Links to Find Free or Affordable Transportation Options in Your Community

Need help finding free or affordable transportation options in your community? Mobility Links is a user-friendly, one-stop search hub with directory information on hundreds of providers of medical transport, commute assistance, taxi and shuttle services, meals on wheels, and other essential mobility services for residents throughout the 13-county Houston-Galveston region.

Mobility Links can be used by anyone in need of transportation services and is especially suited for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and low-income families. Results can be broken down by county service area, service type, passenger type, and organization name, and include each provider's hours of operation, cost information, contact information, scheduling requirements, and more.
Visit www.h-gac.com/mobility-links to find a transportation provider in your community. If you're a new mobility service provider and would like to be added to our list of providers, email RidesCustSvc@csd.hctx.net.
There's Still Time to Take the U.S. Census!
There's still time to take the 2020 U.S. Census online! Census results show where communities need new schools, clinics, roads and other services benefiting families, older adults and children. They help decide federal funding for disaster recovery, mental health services, medical benefits programs, education programs and much more. When you’re counted in the census, you’re helping to build a better community and a stronger Gulf Coast region.  

Complete the census online in less than 10 minutes at 2020census.gov. The census is also available by phone and by mail in more than 13 languages. Say YES to Census 2020, and help us shape the next 10 years for the Gulf Coast region. You deserved to be counted!
Upcoming Meetings

Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 
9:30 - 11 a.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020
9:30 - 11 a.m.