Five stories that have North Texas talking: More lanes might not solve the state’s transportation issue; some Texas police officers accept credit cards to pay fines; Facebook keeps growing in Fort Worth; and more.
A recent contributor to the ongoing conversation, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner thinks the state should undergo a "paradigm shift." Specifically, transportation plans should not focus on single-occupancy vehicles, which makes up 97 percent of drivers on Texas highways. “In the past, especially in Houston, the state has not taken that approach,” according to Texas Standard.
Turner used a “dramatic” example to illustrate his point:
“Several years ago we completed the expansion of I-10 West in Houston,” Turner says. “We have gone now to 26 lanes, when you include the side roads and all. It is the largest number of lanes in the world, at a cost of $2.5 billion.”
And now I-10 is one of the most congested highways in Texas.
“I think that clearly demonstrates the the old way of doing things is not solving the current-day problems,” Turner says. “Unless we engage in a paradigm shift, people are going to be stagnated in their cars, congestions will increase, the economy will suffer. Businesses won’t grow, won’t come here, and they won’t be able to expand.”
Listen to the full interview between Turner and host David Brown. [Texas Standard]
- In some Texas towns, officers give people with outstanding fines two options: Pay via credit card or go to jail. Vigilant Solutions is a California-based company that offers license-plate reading software and credit card readers for officers to use when stopping someone with court fines. Police departments in Kyle, Orange, Decatur and Blue Mound outside of Fort Worth are participating in the program. The Texas Tribune reported: “The program's growth follows last year's passage of House Bill 121, which explicitly allowed police officers to use credit card readers to collect payment of fines during stops. The bill's author, state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress[...]said such programs are needed because outstanding court fees total more than $1 billion statewide. Kyle, alone, has $5 million in court fees related to unpaid warrants, according to city officials.” Read more on a social advocacy group’s concerns. [The Texas Tribune]
- Dallas ISD wants to close the socioeconomic divide by integrating its high-poverty schools. The school district wants the Dallas City Council to encourage mixed-income housing and spread awareness about how housing decisions impact schools. The Dallas Morning News reported: “[Mayor Mike Rawlings] said the city is working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that housing tax credits, provided to developers who create affordable housing, are spread throughout the city instead of being concentrated in poor areas. He also said that his Grow South initiative focuses on putting middle-class housing in southern Dallas.” Rawlings said the change would be slow-going, but economic integration would make for better schools. “DISD’s student body in 2014-15 was 89 percent high poverty, compared to 60 percent 15 years ago,” the Morning News found. Read more. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Facebook’s recent land purchase in Fort Worth will allow for even greater site expansion. The social media company “already owns 110 acres at Texas 170 and Park Vista Boulevard, but in December acquired 39 adjacent acres at Texas 170 and Independence Parkway in the Alliance development,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Facebook plans to build three buildings, each measuring 250,000 square feet, but the additional acreage will allow them to go beyond three facilities if necessary. The first building is in progress and should be open by the end of the year. Read more. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- An 8-year-old boy was handcuffed after having a temper tantrum in a Temple elementary classroom. The Associated Press reported Wednesday: “School officials Tuesday summoned Temple police to Pirtle Elementary about a boy having an emotional crisis, throwing chairs and books and hitting people. Police say the officer tried to calm the boy by talking to him, then briefly put restraints on the child to protect the youngster and others nearby until his family arrived.” The school administrator has apologized to the parents of the boy, who takes medication for a hyperactivity disorder. [The Associated Press]