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This morning at Dallas Area Rapid Transit HQ, president Gary Thomas lauded the rail expansion as "on time and under budget," and presented a new study by professors at the University of North Texas's Center for Economic Development and Research on the expansion's economic impact on the city. Said Thomas: "Our project's about more than destinations. It's about economic development."
According to the study by Terry Clower and Bernard Weinstein -- titled Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Dallas Area Rapid Transit Light Rail System Buildout and System Operations -- the 45-mile Green, Orange and Blue line rail expansion will generate more than $4 billion in economic activity between 2009 and 2014, as well as around 6,400 jobs each year for the next five years. Clower also told those gathered in the conference room that "ongoing operations" will generate $663 million in annual economic activity and more than 5,300 jobs -- not so bad at a time when the local unemployment rate is more than 7 percent.
"We see these as exciting opportunities," Clower said. "DART continues to be the economic engine to make Dallas a world-class city." A brief excerpt from the report:
Dallas Area Rapid Transit's light rail operations continue to be one of the best examples of the growing importance of transit, in all modes, to sustainable economic and community development. In previous research we have documented the impact of light rail stations on transit-oriented development and the resulting benefits realized by local taxing jurisdictions. In addition, we have shown how DART's capital investments and operating spending contribute greatly to local economic activity and support thousands of local jobs.