All Aboard the Cotton Belt: Conducting Field Observations and Surveys


DART is conducting several different kinds of field research to inform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for North Texas’s newest regional rail line, the Cotton Belt. Last week, we told you about the importance of collecting information on noise and vibration in the Cotton Belt corridor, and how it informs our projections of future noise and vibration levels once the Cotton Belt is in full operation. Additional information DART is gathering includes:

  • Socioeconomic Field Observations
  • Ecosystems and Water Resources Observations
  • Cultural and Historic Resources Observations

Socioeconomic Field Observations

Taking stock of existing land use such as active businesses, neighborhoods, schools, and  parks will inform how best to structure the rail line.  Currently, DART employees are in the field observing properties next to the Cotton Belt corridor and assessing safety factors, including pedestrian and traffic movements and the distance of residences from the rail line.  These will help determine if DART needs to make engineering or design changes for the Cotton Belt, such as elevating the tracks at certain points to better accommodate current and future conditions in the area.

Did you know? The right of way (ROW) for the Cotton Belt corridor was purchased by DART more than 25 years ago. Communities have continued to grow and thrive around the corridor since then, so we are developing a plan that reflects those changes.

Ecosystems and Water Resources

Our goal is to make sure construction of the Cotton Belt does not unnecessarily disrupt the natural landscape and beauty of North Texas. By understanding the wetlands, U.S. waters, and habitats surrounding the Cotton Belt Right of Way, DART can work to avoid or alleviate any significant impacts to this landscape.

Cultural and Historic Resources

We’re committed to preserving cultural and historic features and are collaborating with the Texas Historical Commission on the Cotton Belt’s design and construction so we will not interfere with significant resources or landmarks.  Identifying cultural resources or historic structures adjacent to the corridor will help DART determine the best options for preserving those elements of the area’s unique history.

So, How Does DART Collect this Information?

The DART-owned corridor includes a ROW that is typically about 100-feet wide and extends 26 miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Plano.  Generally, the field work performed by DART staff will take place in this ROW and Cotton Belt corridor. DART will always coordinate with owners in advance if field work takes place on any private property.

We take pride in being a good neighbor to all of North Texas, and the field work we conduct allows us to mitigate any significant impacts we may discover during our research. The data collected will help shape the design of the Cotton Belt and allow DART to address potential issues and impacts before construction begins. DART’s goal is to move North Texas forward – a goal we can only accomplish by being the best neighbor possible to those who will be living and working along the new regional rail line once it begins operating.

About DART Daily

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) gets you around 13 cities with rail, bus, paratransit, and rideshare services. We serve DFW International Airport and Fort Worth via the Trinity Railway Express (TRE). The service area consists of 13 cities: Addison, Carrollton, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Glenn Heights, Highland Park, Irving, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park.
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