Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price gave her third annual State of the City address on Thursday afternoon and announced a transportation czar and a new CEO of The T.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price gave her third annual State of the City address on Thursday afternoon.
Among the many topics the mayor focused on was transportation, where she also made a major announcement.
Price announced that the city manager had hired the city's first ever "transportation czar."
City employee Bryan Beck will take on that role, overseeing and coordinating the city's major transportation projects.
Perhaps the biggest transit project is the proposed TEXRail commuter rail line connecting downtown Fort Worth with DFW Airport. A topic the mayor was specifically asked about during the question and answer session of her State of the City address, which is put on by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
Later this year construction to expand Interstate 35W will begin between downtown and Loop 820. The Chisholm Trail Parkway will open in May and many other developments needing transportation will also open and grow.
"We need someone who gets up every day, who's the go-to person who we can say, 'You need to get an answer to this or that,' and he can help coordinate that," Price said.
The mayor also referenced the upcoming bond election in May when talking about addressing transit needs. She said that 75 percent of the $290 million bond package is dedicated to transportation.
New Leader at The T
The Fort Worth Transit Authority, The T, also made a major announcement on Thursday. It announced it has hired Paul Ballard to be its new president and chief executive officer.
For the last 12 years Ballard has led the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee. He also played a major role in the development of the Music City Star commuter train, according to a The T news release.
"He’s got great rail experience, I had the opportunity to meet him about a week ago," Price said. "I feel very confident that he can help that project (TEXRail) move forward."
More Jobs to Fort Worth
Another major announcement from the State of the City address was connected to another company moving to North Texas.
The mayor announced, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, that PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. will add 600 new jobs when it expands to the CentrePort Business Park.
PennyMac is a mortgage lender and servicer, according to the chamber. The chamber said the company took occupancy of its building last summer, but is in the process of adding to its staff.