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Making Dallas Even Better

Is NCTCOG Staff Dictating Regional Transportation Policy? Ctd.

Unfair Park doubled down on coverage of the looming influence of North Texas’ most powerful bureaucrat, North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris, who, as Jim Schutze puts it in his piece, can wave “a magic wand that makes land values in one place soar and values in another crater.” Who is Morris …

If you look back over the years, in fact, Morris has been the old establishment’s most aggressive politician on transportation issues, barnstorming in 2007 to save the Trinity River Toll Road, for example, when it was threatened by a referendum. If you compare what he has said about that particular project over the years, what leaps out is that Morris, an academic planner by profession, can muster highly technical-sounding, not to say deliberately inscrutable arguments to support any position, even when he has to change position 180 degrees.

and why is he so powerful?

I don’t think people get what the MPOs [municipal planning organizations, in other words, NCTCOG] have become, and Michael Morris is the poster boy for it. They have become their own kind of back channel, a sequester where the money can be diverted and controlled by the rhinestone leash-holders.

Meanwhile, Eric Nicholson tries to track down Morris’ Arlington home via public transportation. It helps put in perspective just how embedded Morris’ life is in the build and sprawl design of the suburban dream. Here’s a taste, but be sure to read through to the punchline regarding Michael Morris’ creepy vanity plates: 

The Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center is a maze of buses, but route 9 is nowhere to be found. I finally find a timetable, which tells me that route 9 is in Bay M, which I spot on the opposite end of the parking lot. A security guard in a golf cart catches up to me as I’m putting my bike on the bus to yell at me for riding in the bus depot. I signal OK but am secretly glad to have broken the rules since the bus pulls away as soon as I’m on board. On foot, I would’ve missed it, and the next bus wasn’t scheduled to come for another hour.

  • Michael Moore

    Because the COG was established with federal transportation dollars and there’s no independent local funding, the region’s air quality problem is seen only through the prism of transportation issues, i.e. how to prevent the taking of federal highways money, rather than as a public health issue. The way the agency was established has skewed its perspective on a number of issues.