Atlanta Mayor Travis Ransom speaks to Cass County Commissioner’s Court about joining NERMA

Atlanta Mayor Travis Ransom spoke to the Cass County Commissioner’s Court about why he believes they should be a part of the Northeast Regional Mobility Authority (NERMA). 
NERMA is an independent government agency which was created to accelerate the development of transportation projects within North East Texas. 
“I’m not an expert on RMA’s or regional mobility authorities but I will say Christmas is coming and my kids like to put together a Christmas list and if I told them I was going to make the list and not let them be a part of the process they would be highly upset with me and I think is essentially what we have when we have an organization includes your area, whether you like it or not and if you don’t have a seat at the table you are not participating in building that Christmas list,” said Mayor Ransom. 
Mayor Ransom explained his reasoning behind joining the NERMA at the Dec. 12 court session. 
“I think it is important of us as a region and Cass County is going to be impacted by the decision regional mobility authority and we may not get any return of investment or anything out of this for ten years but eventually we will,” said Mayor Ransom
“Bowie County participates and they just appointed someone to represent the northern end of this regional mobility authority,” said Mayor Ransom. 
“As we look at the future of highway 59 which is the most highly trafficked non interstate highway in the nation and as we transition that road to an interstate 69 and how will that look, how will that go, how is that funded an how will this shake out – I think we need a seat at the table as Cass County folks to understand what’s going on in our region so we can prepare for it,” said Mayor Ransom. 
“There are lots of governmental entities that are formed for different purposes, this particular governmental entity has a lot of flexibility in the way that it behaves – it is a tool that goes in your tool bag and you may need it ten years from now and you may not need it for four or five years – when you need a slide hammer to knock the wheel bearing out of something you got to have it and this is what this kind of is,” said Mayor Ransom. 
Mayor Ransom explained why the NERMA was formed. 
“There are nine RMA’s in the state in the urban areas. They are what’s called metropolitan planning organizations so in urban areas like Texarkana has a metropolitan planning organization which gives them similar tools to use in their urban planning, the rural areas went to the legislation back in 2001 and asked for a similar tool to be created for rural areas for partnerships among the rural counties,” said Mayor Ransom. 
“This regional mobility authority is very large and includes Bowie, Cass, Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood County but it started with Gregg and Smith County and that is where it began and that is where the majority of the work has been up to this point,” said Mayor Ransom.
“Their big project has been loop 49 in Tyler and if you have gone through Tyler and dealt with the congestion and you have gotten on loop 49 and used that, you can understand,” said Ransom. 
“I think we need a seat at the table so we are at the table and not on the menu,” said Ransom. 
Judge Becky Wilbanks spoke about her opinion of the NERMA.
“I agree with Travis that we need to have a seat at the table, you don’t want decisions to be made for you, we want to be a part of the decision making process and things are moving a little faster now then they have been in years past,” said Judge Wilbanks
Cass County was a member of the NERMA from 2007-2013 and William Runnels was the representative during that time. 
“A representative cannot be an elected official it has to be a citizen,” said Judge Wilbanks.
“I am not aware of the history of why we got out of the authority but I would like to present becoming a member of the authority again,” said Judge Wilbanks. 

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