2017 will be an exciting year for DART and all the cities and residents that are part of the DART system. With several transit projects in the works and on the horizon, we will be working to ensure taxpayer dollars and federal funding combine to bring the greatest benefit to everyone affected.
Imagine: It’s the big Friday night game and there are only 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Your team needs one more touchdown to bring home a win. The best play would be to throw a pass — if you’re on the 50-yard line. If your team is positioned on the 1-yard line, your likeliest path to victory would be to run the ball. The end-goal (pun intended!) is the same, but the way you get there is strategically different.
DART approaches funding for each Capital Investment Project like a new football play. The nature of each project determines what federal program we tap for the funds we need to build a transit solution.
First up in the New Year: D2 — The time may not feel short now, but DART has just six months — until June 2017 — to submit a new, subway-based Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the second downtown rail alignment (D2). That means completing research, gathering community input, assessing funding options, and building a consensus around the route that best meets the needs of the city, the riders, and the businesses and residential areas affected by D2.
On deck for DART are additional transit projects like the Cotton Belt, platform extensions, and the downtown Dallas streetcar. The Cotton Belt will be a 26-mile rail commuter rail adding new rail to Addison and improving connections in Plano, Richardson, Dallas, Carrollton and Irving. This transit project will open up the region, giving access to DFW Airport and the University of Texas at Dallas.
It is clear DART has a lot going on in the New Year, but our goals remain the same for every Capital Investment Project: providing affordable, flexible mobility; stimulating economic development; uniting communities and our region; and improving the quality of life for all who live here now and in the future.
DART knows each Capital Investment Project comes with its own set of benefits and meets a specific set of needs within the larger system. That’s why we approach seeking funds for these projects in a holistic manner and consider each project as one piece of the larger DART puzzle. Monies for these projects come from different sources, so we don’t have to sacrifice one project like D2 to be able to build another project like the Cotton Belt. D2 qualifies for Core Capacity federal funding, but the Cotton Belt is a not a Core Capacity project, and therefore does not qualify for this specific federal funding program. DART is planning to use a low-interest loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to support the Cotton Belt project.
Each Project Is Important
Even though each transit project has an individual purpose, each of them contributes to achieving a single goal: providing North Texas with a transit system that moves our region forward in the most flexible, efficient way possible.
Having a variety of funding mechanisms available to support the variety of transit projects required for our system’s diverse transportation needs means DART can run the funding play that is most appropriate for each project, rather than having only one funding play that must cover every project. This flexibility enables DART to plan and budget multiple projects over multiple years, serving North Texas now and in the future.