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December 12, 2000
Bipartisan support important
Federal Funds Aid Bus and Rail Expansion, DART Transit Police
More than $72 million in federal funds will help DART complete the North Central light rail extension, update its bus fleet and hire 11 more transit police.
"The continuing strong support of the entire North Texas delegation and our two United States senators is a critical part of our success in securing federal dollars," DART President/Executive Director Roger Snoble said.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison described DART as "the future of mass transportation in Texas. It has increased mobility, making the region more accessible for residents and visitors alike. It is improving the environment by lowering the number of cars on our freeways and spurring economic development along its corridors." Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said continued support for DART is important. "DART will be a major force in ensuring that our community continues to lead the nation in growth and opportunity," she said.
Snoble thanked other members of the North Texas Congressional delegation -- including Sen. Phil Gramm, and Reps. Dick Armey, Martin Frost, Ralph Hall, Joe Barton, Sam Johnson and Pete Sessions -- for their support during the federal appropriation process. "I've been a long-time supporter of DART because it's an excellent example of how federal funds can be leveraged with local funds to support worthy projects," Frost said.
Rep. Armey said "through wise investments in public transportation like DART, Texas has found a way not only to meet transportation needs but to do so in a forward-thinking, cost effective manner that reduces both congestion and pollution in the greater Dallas area." Sessions added, "DART makes our region more attractive to new businesses and new employers with its commitment to providing efficient transportation alternatives that are friendly to the environment."
Light Rail Expansion Backed
DART's light rail extension to Richardson and Plano is scheduled to receive $70 million in the Fiscal Year 2001 Transportation Appropriations bill. Construction of the 12-mile extension along North Central Expressway from the current Park Lane Station is on time and scheduled to arrive in Richardson in 2002 and in Plano in 2003.
The appropriation is the third installment in the $333-million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) signed last year by U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. The FFGA will provide funds over six years to help pay for the 12.5-mile extension from Park Lane Station through Richardson to Plano. DART previously received $25 million toward the completion of the North Central portion of DART's Light Rail Starter System. DART also received $50 million in the FY00 budget. The FFGA establishes a project completion date and provides a commitment of federal funds. DART obtained the first FFGA in the nation under the new Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21) passed by Congress in June 1998.
DART also is building a separate 11-mile rail extension from Mockingbird Station in Dallas northeast to downtown Garland. Service on the first segment serving the White Rock Lake area is scheduled to open in fall 2001. Service to downtown Garland opens in fall 2002. The northeast extension is being paid for by local funds.
More than 39,000 customers ride DART's Light Rail system each weekday. There are two lines. DART's Blue Line presently runs north from the Ledbetter Station in the South Oak Cliff section of Dallas, across the Trinity River, through downtown Dallas and then enters a tunnel under North Central Expressway to Mockingbird Lane. DART's Red Line begins at Westmoreland Station, near the intersection of Illinois and Westmoreland in West Oak Cliff, runs north across the Trinity River, through downtown Dallas terminating at Park Lane Station in North Dallas.
Bus Improvement Continues
The FY 2001 federal appropriation also includes $2 million to continue upgrading the bus fleet with new, state-of-the-art clean fuel buses. DART currently is undergoing a $264-million program to replace older buses with 770 buses that meet increasingly stringent federal emissions standards.
The bus update program began in 1997 when DART purchased nearly 500 buses fueled by either diesel or natural gas to modernize a bus fleet that was, on average, more than 12 years old. DART has received 389 new buses, and another 110 are scheduled to arrive by the end of the year.
Transit Police Gain Support
DART is scheduled to receive $309,586 from the COPS Making Officer Redeployment Effective (MORE) program of the U.S. Department of Justice. The program was designed to help local police departments hire more support staff. The grant funds an employee's salary and benefits for one year.
Snoble said Rep. Frost played a vital role in securing federal grant money from the Department of Justice to help hire more police personnel.
"I am pleased that DART and its customers throughout its 13 member cities will continue to benefit from these grants," Frost said. "This program is making a difference in the lives of people across the region."
This is the third grant DART has received under this program. The three grants -- totaling more than $5 million - helped fund the deployment of 86 officers and support staff. DART's transit police force has more than 120 officers, making it one of the largest police agencies in the North Texas area.
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