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Cantrell: Dallas County Will Gets Its Stimulus Share

County Commissioner Mike Cantrell kindly takes  time to explain how federal dollars are flowing, how Dallas County will fare, and why ProPublica’s and others’ numbers are wrong, at least as far as transportation goes:

Our region continues to work together on transportation projects as evidenced by the Regional Transportation Council and the actions we took regarding the federal stimulus dollars.  The RTC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for our area.  The MPO’s share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for transportation purposes was $44.61 million for the Western Region and $99.29 million for the Eastern Region.  Staff of RTC proposed a funding allocation method to help equalize Regional Toll Revenue funding, effectively utilize the ARRA funding, and to provide a way to build projects sooner in both regions.

Because Western RTR funds have not been expended because of legal obstacles, the ARRA funding provided an opportunity to move the Western RTR funds of $158 million to the East, and move Eastern ARRA funds of $99 million and $58 million in gas tax funds to the West.  By doing this, there was no change to the commitment on existing projects.  In the East, the funds will be 100% RTR funding and the western funds would become federal.  This would allow the projects in the east to move more quickly and it resolves the 69/31 eastern/western funding allocation issue. 

We continue to work as a region as we deal with these issues to address mobility. I can assure you that Dallas County is not asleep at the wheel and has not been shortchanged. 

I know it is difficult to wade through the acronyms, but what the Commish is saying is that it makes no sense to measure Dallas County or Tarrant County or Collin County as discrete units in comparing stimulus dollars, as ProPublica has done. It might be accurate for other parts of the country, but almost all transit projects here are regional, as they have to be.  The regional mechanism, i.e., the North Texas Council of Governments, was already in place and is allocating the stimulus money as appropriate to projects already in the works.

How about those Fort Worth, Oak Cliff, and downtown Dallas streetcars, Commissioner? Can we allocate any spillover there?