Planning for the Future
The agency is in the early stages of developing an updated transit system plan, a two-year process of prioritizing capital projects to the year 2040. As part of the planning, DART will meet with staff from cities in the service area for input, feedback and project recommendations.
Major capital projects deferred from the 2030 Transit System Plan will be evaluated along with new initiatives that may be identified to determine DART's work plan for the years ahead. Agency leaders and staffers will focus on initiatives to grow ridership, maintain the system in a state of good repair, and improve regional connectivity.
Examining options for a second rail line downtownAll four lines of the DART Light Rail System converge in downtown Dallas, running on the same track through the Central Business District transitway mall. DART Rail has reached the maximum number of trains during peak service that the infrastructure can handle without affecting schedules. Although the passenger loads are not at full capacity, growth in the region and planned transit expansion eventually will necessitate additional service.
In 2007, DART initiated planning for a second downtown rail alignment - known as D2. After a comprehensive study examining more than 20 alternatives, the agency has identified a short list of alignment options, including design concepts and capital and operating costs.
DART's current 20-Year Financial Plan does not include sufficient resources to construct D2 before 2030. Nonetheless, grant assistance has become more possible with the passage of the current transportation bill, MAP-21, and with the proposed long-term authorization bill. The agency is working closely with the Federal Transit Administration as it develops criteria for core capacity grants so that maturing transit systems can qualify.
Advancing the Cotton Belt CorridorMany communities along the Cotton Belt Corridor, a 62-mile rail corridor owned largely by DART since 1990, share the agency's strong desire to develop passenger rail service. The project is currently scheduled in the DART Transit System Plan to open in 2035.
Initial planning is underway and DART staff has nearly completed early engineering and environmental documentation for commuter rail along the 26-mile eastern portion of the corridor extending from DFW Airport to Richardson/Plano.
Next, the agency will meet with cities impacted by the proposed rail line to discuss various development and phasing options - and the financial implications associated with each. If project partners can secure alternative funding, then DART can construct and begin operation of the Cotton Belt rail line earlier.
In June 2013, the DART Board approved an agreement with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) to lease DART's portion of the western side of the corridor. The T will combine it with additional right-of-way to develop its TEX Rail project, a commuter rail service between downtown Fort Worth and DFW Airport at Terminal B. The T is pursuing a full-funding grant agreement through the Federal Transit Administration and hopes to begin revenue service in 2017.
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