Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon described his election as chairman of the Regional Transportation Council as both an honor and an opportunity to forge new relationships with fellow city, county and state officials outside of Johnson County.
Harmon, who was elected to his new position on Thursday, will lead the 44-member transportation policymaking body over the next year. Harmon was first appointed to the RTC in 2001. Harmon replaces Denton County Judge Andy Eads.
“Texas and Johnson County in particular are going to change rapidly in the next few years ahead,” Harmon said. “We’re going to continue to see people moving to the state because Texas has a friendlier atmosphere and more moving to Johnson County because of our proximity to Tarrant and Dallas counties.”
Harmon will also lead the RTC through the 87th Texas Legislative Session, which begins in January.
Transportation funding will likely be a big focus of the upcoming session as governments address changes in travel patterns and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RTC, which includes 12 counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, oversees transportation planning for the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. The region’s current population, 7.5 million, is projected to exceed 11 million by 2045. The RTC guides the development of roadway, rail and bicycle-pedestrian plans and programs. It also allocates funds and recommends projects to the Texas Transportation Commission.
The RTC also ensures transportation services are coordinated throughout the region and the metropolitan area complies with air quality regulations. Dallas-Fort Worth remains in non attainment for ozone and is working toward meeting federal standards. The RTC has also embraced technology as it seeks to pursue innovative ways to move people, such as high-speed transportation.
The council is examining high-speed options between Dallas and Fort Worth, including Arlington. High-speed rail, hyperloop technology and magnetic levitation are among other options under consideration.
RTC members are also working with metropolitan planning organizations between north and south Texas along the Interstate 35 corridor on high-speed transportation projects.
Closer to home, Harmon said he hopes to see the planned extension of the 360 toll road come to fruition as well as the expansion of U.S. 67 to four lanes from Cleburne to Glen Rose and construction of a second bridge over U.S. 67 near Cleburne Station.
“We have it approved for an underpass on Farm-to-Market Road 917 in Joshua but we’re waiting on funding,” Harmon said. “I think at some point we’re going to have to look at making FM 917 four lanes near Godley and the Chisholm Trail Parkway because of all the growth we’re seeing out there.
“But overall, I think this council has achieved more good things transportation wise than any other similar council in the state and I’m very honored to have been elected to serve as their chairman,” Harmon said.
Johnson County Commissioner Rick Bailey called Harmon’s new position an honor as well.
“I think it’s a great honor for Roger to be in that position and I’m sure he’ll do a fine job on that council,” Bailey said. “I think this can also be beneficial to Johnson County, which has been overlooked in the past, to have a voice on many of these important local and regional issues.”
Elected at the same time as Harmon were Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, who was elected vice chair after having served as secretary for the past year. Fort Worth Councilwoman Ann Zadeh was named secretary. Both they and Harmon will serve in their new positions through June 2021.
The RTC has served as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for regional transportation planning in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1974.