Rockwall County and Hunt County are paired now in a seat on the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) — and none too soon.

From Little Rock to Rockwall and the Metroplex, Interstate 30 is on the road to becoming a statistical metropolitan planning area.

To be able to participate in such planning, to shape proposed legislation, and determine funding is a big step up to the table around which are allocated the region’s transportation dollars — that table being the RTC.

“This is a huge step for Rockwall County,” said Rockwall County Judge Chris Florance.

It is headed by one of the most respected traffic planners in the nation, Michael Morris, as described by long-time transportation activist, Rockwall County Commissioner Bruce Beaty.

The dominant representation of the RTC’s 40 seats has been that of the Metroplex cities, but population growth of perimeter required new seat allocations, and includes four new pairs of counties. The allocation effort has been difficult, the Rockwall County Road Consortium had learned early in the year, when they hosted Morris at one of the monthly meetings to make a case for money and for a seat.

“Many options” were considered for equity and fair representation, Morris said, according to the minutes of the Aug. 21 meeting of the RTC.

This was in answer to the observation made by the Johnson County judge that “fair representation of large areas can be a difficult task” and that perhaps a county should have its own seat, since it represents cities as well, the minutes noted.

Both Horn and Florance, who took office in 2007, spoke positively about their working together to represent the eastern side of the Metroplex.

“I have lobbied for the past two years for a seat on this board. Hunt County has also been working to achieve this goal. We finally gained a seat. We have representation now whereas before we didn’t. When it comes to allocating funds for road projects and influence with the state, our only hope was to gain this seat,” said Florance.

“I’m encouraged, and Judge Florance is very much encouraged. We definitely wanted to be in alignment,” said Horn in a September phone interview.

Alignment is needed. The Union Pacific travels along I-30, and the Dallas-Fort Worth region is predicted to be the center of a mega-region from Little Rock to Dallas-Fort Worth, and from Tulsa to San Antonio, according to the RTC. Planning agreements with the Heart of Texas region and the East Texas region have been signed, according to the Oct. 9 presentation.

“Both Rockwall and Hunt Counties have a common thread that binds the counties together, and that is the I-30 corridor,” said Florance. “Obviously, anything that improves this corridor will benefit both counties.”

Population growth required the RTC reallocate seats. Rockwall County is estimated by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, (NCTCOG) to have 76,000 population; Hunt County to have population 91,600.

Since the 2000 census, that is a 76 percent growth rate for Rockwall County and 20 percent for Hunt.

In the past, the mayor of Garland represented Rockwall County, and the cities of Rockwall and Rowlett. Hunt County had no representation.

Ellis and Kaufman Counties are paired. On the west are paired Johnson and Hood, and Parker and Wise.

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