North Texas commuters and airport travelers could get help avoiding traffic, thanks to $174 million earmarked for two area rail projects in President Obama’s final proposed federal budget. Meanwhile, plans for a second light-rail line in downtown Dallas moved closer to qualifying for federal funds on Wednesday. The president wants to direct $125 million to the TEX Rail project that will connect downtown Fort Worth to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal B. That nearly $1 billion project will give Cowtown a direct connection to the region’s largest economic engine just as Dallas has the Orange Line to Terminal A.
The proposed federal budget — which still requires Congressional approval — would also send the final $49 million Dallas Area Rapid Transit needs for its $118.76 million platform extension project, which will allow the agency to run longer trains through its entire light-rail network. That will mean more space for commuters in Plano, Garland and southern Dallas.
Airport and the Cotton Belt
If The T, Fort Worth’s transit agency, secures its $125 million, it would need only $225 million for the $998 million TEX Rail project. The agency has already secured $498 million in local funds and $150 million in previous federal appropriations.
The T last year secured agreements needed to operate on the old Cotton Belt line. It has also already ordered eight rail vehicles. There will be 10 stations in Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and at the airport. DART’s DFW station currently provides about 1,000 trips a day.
DART plans to run rail service on the same line from the airport to Plano by 2035. But the Regional Transportation Council on Thursday is slated to vote on a resolution that could force DART to fast track that timeline or run bus rapid transit on the same path in the near future.
“We need to figure out a way to make this work,” said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.
- Dallas Morning News, February 10, 2016