Funding Still Uncertain, DART Continues Planning For Cotton Belt Rail Corridor

The Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor, will someday stretch some 60-plus miles from Wylie to southwest Fort Worth. If, of course, DART and its partner agencies can find the money for the $2 billion project, envisioned as a public-private partnership. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons points me to the North Central Texas Council of Government for more information, but the short answer: "Still looking."

That's not stopping DART from moving forward with the planning process, negotiating with the myriad parties involved, performing environmental analyses, figuring out track alignment, determining potential ridership and station location and design, and so on. DART's Planning Committee got a peek at some of the plans yesterday during an update on the project.

You can page through the presentation yourself, but some key points: Average daily ridership is projected to be 16,400, with highest use where the Cotton Belt links up with DART's existing light rail and at DFW Airport. DART and the city of Richardson plan to go all out with the UTD station "transit plaza," with a hotel, event center, mixed-use development and something resembling a cross between a geodesic dome and an alien spaceship. The Renner Village Station will be surrounded by an "urban living laboratory," which looks like mixed-use development centered around ponds. And the proposed Preston Road station (at the intersection with Keller Springs Road just north of Arapaho) will be difficult to sandwich, have low ridership (544 passengers per day), and, the presentation notes mildly, has encountered "strong public opposition."

So what's next? DART will continue to move forward with station designs and environmental analyses and "reinitiate public involvement." Then, in September, NCTCOG is slated to come back with an update on funding possibilities. So, we'll see.

Cotton Belt Regional Rail Project (Item 2)_Planning

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson