Fort Worth Star-Telegram 2/23/16 5:22 PM By Mac Churchill

More than 20 years ago, members of the Tarrant County business community, along with regional planners, began discussing how to ensure that our transportation infrastructure could keep pace with the incredible growth that was expected.

We wanted to support future economic development.

As AllianceTexas, the development centered on Alliance Airport, began to take off and development continued in the downtown core, mobility along the Interstate 35W corridor became a key focus of interest and concern.

In the early 2000’s, as Fort Worth began a 13-year run as the fastest-growing large city in America, discussions led to a need for action.

We officially launched the I-35W Corridor Coalition, now known as the 35W Coalition, in a January 2006 press conference at Fort Worth’s City Hall. Our plan was to advocate for transportation improvements in the community, along with stronger development standards along the corridor.

To celebrate the founding of the 35W Coalition and its many accomplishments over the past decade, the coalition is hosting an annual meeting and 10-year anniversary celebration Wednesday at the Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway.

This celebration will recognize the many individuals and organizations that have been involved to help to make the 35W Coalition a success. The progress made by the coalition, from the planning to the securing of funds for transportation improvements along the I-35W corridor, has made a tremendous impact on the North Texas region.

Within the last decade, the coalition has grown to include more than 900 businesses and residents. Leading North Texas companies and organizations are members because of the value the coalition provides and the difference it makes in finding solutions to the mobility issues affecting the region.

The 35W Coalition is dedicated to providing our community the best opportunity to make a difference, to improve our transportation infrastructure and to play an active role in enhancing the region’s livability, sustainability and economic vitality.

Together, through determined advocacy, the coalition has been recognized by the Texas Department of Transportation and by state legislators as an important and influential authority for better transportation solutions in Tarrant County and the region.

We have achieved a great deal.

Our collective voice has made a difference in successfully advocating for transportation funding. This included grassroots efforts to encourage voters to make their voices heard in support of Proposition 1, which authorized the Legislature to allocate money from “Rainy Day Fund” savings to the State Highway Fund.

We did the same for Proposition 7, which dedicates up to $2.5 billion of revenue from the sales and use tax to the State Highway Fund each fiscal year, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2032.

Additionally, we have heightened our private sector engagement in educating elected officials and policy makers about transportation funding needs through organized legislative visits and advocacy campaigns.

We have advanced the work on infrastructure projects like the North Tarrant Express along Loop 820 and Airport Freeway and now I-35W, which will ensure better mobility.

It has been a tremendous decade of progress for the 35W Coalition. We are extremely proud of the progress we have made and appreciate the dedication of so many of our members, constituents, partners and influencers to confront the transportation issues in our region.

We have proven that, collectively, we make a difference to improve our infrastructure, to help secure economic vitality and our quality of life in North Texas.

Mac Churchill is the chairman of the non-profit transportation advocacy group 35W Coalition and president of Mac Churchill Acura in Fort Worth.