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How the Fastest Growing U.S. Metro Area is Managing High Density Traffic

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area gained 146,000 new residents in 2017, the largest jump in population of any U.S. metro area. What if we showed you how Jacobs and the North Central Texas Council of Governments are addressing growing high-density conditions by exploring options for an automated transportation system to better connect and mobilize Dallas’ thriving population?

Rendering of Midtown

Project overview

Between 2010 and 2016, close to a million people ditched The Big Apple, recording the biggest loss of residents by any major U.S. metro area in that period – but where’d they all go?

Well, Dallas seems likely. The city added the most residents during that timeframe, compelled by an economic increase of four percent annually on average and the addition of almost 100,000 jobs a year. The job growth is closely tied to relocations of large companies from other parts of the country, some of the most notable being Jamba Juice’s corporate headquarters, divisions of mobility greats including Toyota and Boeing and even Jacobs’ own relocation of our corporate headquarters from Pasadena, California, to Dallas in 2016.

Reminiscent of Los Angeles’ expansion in the late 1970s and 80s, Dallas’ growth, despite being impressive, could signal future headaches for the city, including increases in traffic congestion, housing costs and pressures on other critical infrastructure such as water and power systems.

But what if we showed you how Automated Transportation System (ATS) technologies – being studied in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with Jacobs’ guidance – could be the city’s best response to connecting Dallasites, keeping them on the move for years to come?

Key Facts

$1B

in estimated construction savings achieved through right-sizing parking throughout Dallas Midtown to encourage ATS and public transit use

1.3K

or more rides per day projected for the ATS system's inner loop

The automated transportation system leverages innovation and technology as Dallas Midtown takes shape to not only enable the highest and best use of that space, but to link Dallas with a true “first and last mile” connection to Midtown. The amount of vehicular traffic reduced from circulating the development looking for parking or the many attractions planned will have a significant positive impact on mobility and safety for all who visit the area.

Marcus Ashdown
Jacobs Transportation Planning Project Manager

Developing for urbanization

Street view 1b
Street view 2

More than eight years ago, city planners began visualizing a new development and redevelopment of Dallas Midtown, a significant regional center of the city, to ensure long-term economic vibrancy and environmental sustainability. Embracing their spirit of encouraging development patterns for mixed-use without causing impacts on surrounding areas, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) connected with the City of Dallas, its developer and neighborhood stakeholders to recommend an ATS that meets the high-density future condition of the Dallas Midtown area, and provides connections to the regional rail network.

Located at intersecting regional highways, the Dallas North Tollway and the LBJ Expressway (I-635), and eight miles from downtown, the Dallas Midtown development district’s closest regional transit connection is more than three miles away. NCTCOG’s study, for which they partnered with us in early 2018, will evaluate and determine feasibility of regional connectivity to the Dallas Midtown development, which includes plans for hike and bike trails connecting to White Rock Lake, parks and open space, interactive water features throughout, luxury hotels, condos and office space, athletic and wellness facility and expansive shopping, restaurant and entertainment options.

The study will also explore options for automated transportation systems for the region, including technologies (automated people movers, personal and group rapid transit, monorail and cable-propelled systems), alignment and operational characteristics; review the ATS interaction with existing and future parking structures and strategies; and identify potential funding and implementation strategies.

Moving people in Dallas Midtown

Throughout 2018, we’ve worked with NCTCOG to develop a formatted transit modeling tool tied to the regional model that can be used on future locations in the region. The tool will also be input into a TransCAD regional planning model and allow NCTCOG to quickly reanalyze Dallas Midtown in the future should significant build changes in the development occur. This flexibility is especially important because of sustained regional growth expected and changing mobility perceptions, such as improvements in smart vehicle technologies and automated vehicles, millennials changing mobility patterns and growth of affordable rideshare services as last-mile connections, influencing travel patterns and future demand.

An ATS would provide for a more cohesive journey throughout Dallas Midtown and surrounding areas made entirely on public transit, helping reduce the number of cars on roadways. With less cars on the roads, there’d also be less needed parking spaces in the new district – an estimated nearly $1 billion in parking construction savings achieved through right-sizing parking to demand, increasing occupancy ratios of parking spaces and reducing spatial need by roughly 3 million square feet.

During the next several months, using feedback gleaned from a series of public open houses and listening sessions and research into various ATS concepts, we will look to select the recommended solution and develop implementation steps before making a final recommendation for a system in Dallas Midtown that will provide more than 1,300 estimated rides per day.

Interested in learning more about how Jacobs transforms intangible ideas into intelligent solutions for a more connected, sustainable world? Visit www.jacobs.com/what-if.