Downtown Dallas needs a second rail alignment to alleviate bottlenecks and increase both capacity and flexibility. These improvements are vital to accommodate the fast-paced growth in our region.
Any major infrastructure project takes time; but the more time it takes, the more expensive D2 will become.
DART is working with local stakeholders, other affected communities downtown, and all members of the DART system to identify a solution that will bring the greatest benefits at the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time. Balancing all three objectives is not simple or easy, but we are making progress.
One of the key factors that could lead to delays and increased costs for local taxpayers is the federal funding process. The current scope of the project, which is under the DART board’s locally preferred alternative (LPA), would require $650 million, with approximately half of that amount coming from the Federal Capital Investment Grant Program. If D2’s scope and/or budget increases substantially, the process to gain approval of the needed federal funding will be affected, and implementing the second rail alignment could take years longer.
Here are three factors influencing DART’s development of D2:
- The federal funding process
Increased project scope and complexity leads to more reviews. When a project funded under the Federal Capital Investment Grant Program exceeds $1 billion, it becomes a mega-project. Mega-projects require greater FTA scrutiny and additional reviews. This potentially slows the design and development phase. As a primarily above-ground light rail option, D2 keeps the budget and size of the project below this threshold, reducing the federal hurdles we will have to overcome to move forward.
The LPA currently being designed will provide a new rail alignment for downtown Dallas by 2021. More complex solutions will delay the opening of the project.
A transit solution costs money not only to create, but also to maintain. The LPA offers not only a cost-effective solution to build, but also a cost-effective solution in terms of routine maintenance, emergency response, and other aspects of keeping the system working well over the long term. DART wants to ensure the D2 solution is sustainable for the future as well as meeting immediate needs for building it.
We are committed to developing a regional solution that works for everyone. The more budget-conscious we are able to be, the sooner D2 can become a reality and benefit all of North Texas.