The New Year is around the corner and many people view this time of year as an opportunity to organize their personal finances and develop a budget to help them spend the money they make wisely. DART is always assessing its budget to fund all planned Capital Investment Projects; projects intended to make North Texas a more connected, accessible, and economically vibrant place for all.
But How Will You Pay For It?
DART frequently is asked, “How will you pay for this?” The funding process for DART’s Capital Investment Projects is unique to the size and scope of each individual project. In fact, funding from the federal government (which allows us to build the projects that will make our region strong, without placing the entire cost burden on our residents) can come from multiple agencies through multiple programs.
DART’s goal is to develop Capital Investment Projects that give taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck. We work to balance the cost of the project (and the cost to the taxpayer) with the greatest benefit a transportation system can bring to our region. To achieve that balance, DART seeks federal funding from the federal agency and program whose requirements align most closely with the project DART wants to build.
Current Projects and Funding
For example, DART is seeking funding for D2 from the Federal Transportation Agency (FTA)’s Core Capacity Program and the Interrelated Projects program. This is the type of program that would help fund other projects such as Platform Extensions, and the Central Dallas Streetcar Project. A few of the Core Capacity stipulations require the transit project to:
- Be located in an area that is at or over capacity or will be in five years
- Increase capacity by 10 percent
- “Not include project elements designated to maintain a state of good repair” (which means a project that is not intended to repair or improve the existing transit system)
D2 fits these requirements, but other DART Capital Investment Projects do not. That’s why DART works to match the funding tool with the project. For example, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) is the best fit for the Cotton Belt. Under this program, DART hopes to obtain a low-interest federal loan that is specific for commuter rail and freight projects.
The Road Ahead
By carefully planning for DART’s and North Texas’ future, we make sure we have enough money to pay for all of DART’s Capital Investment Projects. Seeking funds from the right federal agency and program is key to bringing the best transit system to North Texas and providing our area with an accessible and affordable transit system that moves our entire region forward.