Read NCTCOG's Long Look-See at How to Fund the Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor
At 1 today the Regional Transportation Council will discuss the doc you see below: the 132-page report finished last month as part of the so-called Cotton Belt Corridor Innovative Finance Initiative, which the North Central Texas Council of Governments touts on today's agenda as "a thorough investigation of potential innovative funding strategies for the capital and operating funding needs for the regional 62-mile Cotton Belt Corridor." Because, as we last discussed in August, the would-be rail line connecting Southwest Fort Worth to Dallas Area Rapid Transit's Red Line Light Rail Corridor and into Collin County is far closer to concept than reality as the COG, DART and Fort Worth Transit Authority look for private and public funds to get the thing rolling at long last. As the report puts it:
Traditional infrastructure funding sources are evaporating. Our economy, nationally and locally, depends on transportation investments for continued prosperity. But how to fund transportation investments is now fundamentally in question. The federal gas tax no longer provides sufficient funding for the transportation systems required by our growing region and nation. Increased vehicle fuel efficiency and the political inclination to not increase taxes will continue to widen the gas tax funding gap over time. Locally, sales taxes are insufficient to fund additional passenger rail investments.
So, then, how to fund the project? Not an easy question to answer, as the report says the COG looked at more than 125 potential revenue sources, including using short-term bond sales and property and hotel taxes, collecting sales tax revenue from member and non-member cities, assessing fees for new and renewed driver's licenses, getting the state Legislature to impose a higher gas tax, imposing more regional tolls and so on, all the way down to advertising and the sale of fiber-optic "access licenses" and naming rights. The doc says they've ID'd around $2 to $3 billion in potential revenue ... "depending on assumptions," though. See for yourself.
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