On Aug. 18, 2014, DART reached one of its biggest milestones in the rail expansion: the opening of DFW Airport Station at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Now the country's longest light rail system connects to one of the world's busiest airports.
Both airport-based employees and travelers appreciate the convenience of rail service at DFW Airport's Terminal A.
DFW Airport built the station as part of its Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program while DART focused on the rail line extension. According to DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas, sharing construction duties allowed DART to open the station four months sooner than scheduled.
North Texas residents and visitors now have direct rail access between downtown Dallas and the airport and its growing roster of international and domestic destinations. Regional leaders believe that light rail service between the airport and the rest of the DART Service Area will help attract everything from corporations to conferences, tourists to college students.
"Every renowned global airport has rail service to the city center," said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW Airport. "The DART Orange Line connecting the airport and downtown Dallas is a critical component to DFW's status as a top-tier international gateway."
DFW Airport also is one of the region's major employment centers. The rail connection provides nearly 60,000 workers a convenient and cost-effective option to commute.
Partnerships Advance Projects
When the Blue Line Extension to UNT Dallas Station opens in 2016, the current rail program will be complete. The light rail system has doubled in size over the past five years, from
45 miles in August 2009 to 90 miles currently.
To advance rail projects now and in the future, collaboration is key. The cooperation between DART and the airport to build DFW Airport Station modeled the collaboration necessary to improve regional mobility.
The agency is working with both the University of North Texas System and the city of Dallas to integrate two future Blue Line stations into the vision for greater economic development in
The city of Dallas has contracted with DART to help build two streetcar projects that will open in 2015. These streetcar lines will complement the DART Rail System as part of a growing rail network through the city center.
"Above all, we will continue to embrace partnerships with other transit agencies, regional bodies and municipalities," Thomas said. "That's the way forward as the population booms but
revenue for rail expansion is harder to come by."
Blue Line Connects to Better Opportunities
In less than two years, students and faculty will be able to reach the University of North Texas at Dallas campus by train. Residents in southern Dallas will have new means to access job
opportunities, earn an education or reach any destination served by public transportation.
The agency is extending the Blue Line south from Ledbetter Station approximately three miles to new stations at Camp Wisdom Road and the UNT Dallas campus. The project, known as the
South Oak Cliff Blue Line Extension, is expected to help lower transportation costs for residents of and spur development in southern Dallas.
The Blue Line Extension south from Ledbetter Station will improve access to the University of North Texas at Dallas campus.
DART is working with UNT officials so the station location and design mesh with plans for the university's future growth. Bus access, parking and disabled parking will be provided at
In addition to the new stops, the existing Ledbetter Station will be updated to accommodate the track extension and improve passenger safety and convenience. Modifications to the station will take place concurrently with other rail construction. The Blue Line Extension is scheduled to open in late 2016, three years sooner than originally scheduled.
Dallas Streetcar Links Districts
Just outside of downtown, parts of Dallas' Oak Cliff district are thriving with new residents, restaurants, shops, theaters and more. The city of Dallas has partnered with DART on two projects to improve transit to this up-and-coming area.
D-Link, a free downtown circulator bus, currently loops through the area (see Page 3). The city and Downtown Dallas, Inc. are subsidizing the route's two-year pilot program.
In spring 2015, the city and DART will open the first phase of the Dallas Streetcar. DART has designed and constructed the modern streetcar line, and will operate and maintain it under contracts with the city.
The first 1.6-mile segment will run from Union Station in downtown to Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Oak Cliff and replace part of the D-Link route. Future phases will extend the line to the Bishop Arts District - an eclectic area of shops and restaurants in Oak Cliff - in one direction and to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Dallas Hotel in the other.
Dallas is funding the capital project primarily with a $23 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the Federal Transit Administration and a grant from the Regional Transportation Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. DART is contributing approximately $9 million for two vehicles and another $11 million allocated over 25 years for partial support of annual operating requirements.
The M-Line Trolley will transport riders from Cityplace/Uptown Station, past Klyde Warren Park to the Dallas Arts District.
M-Line Trolley Circles the Arts District
DART is assisting the city of Dallas to construct new streetcar tracks that will allow the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority's (MATA) heritage M-Line Trolley to loop through the Dallas Arts District. The trolley will connect Dallas' dense Uptown district to the Central Business District, expanding the line's utility from tourist attraction to functional mode of transportation for the many commuters who use it each day.
The agency is the project sponsor and recipient of an Urban Circulator grant from the Federal Transit Administration and is constructing a 0.65-mile track extension along St. Paul and
Federal streets from its current terminus near the Dallas Museum of Art. DART's extension will connect to the city's related project along Olive Street, which is funded from city and state
resources. Together, the two extensions form a loop that brings the M-Line Trolley within walking distance of St. Paul Station (see Page 5).
The city will own the new tracks, which were designed to serve both heritage streetcars and be compatible with a future connection to the city's modern streetcar system. The loop, combined with the turntable near DART's Cityplace/Uptown Station, permits MATA to operate streetcars that travel in only one direction, which will increase service capacity. Both parts of the M-Line extension will open in 2015.
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