In February 2010, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that the downtown Dallas streetcar project, then expected to run around $58 million, would get a huge hunk of its funding from the feds -- $23 million, to be precise, courtesy Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds, otherwise known as TIGER money. Which left the city to pick up the rest of the tab of the 1.6-mile-long starter line from Union Station to near Methodist Hospital, resulting in, among other things, moving close to $22 million intended for the Green Line-to-Love Field connector into the streetcar budget to cover operations and maintenance costs.
Last week the feds signed off on the Union Station to Oak Cliff Dallas Streetcar Environmental Assessment, paving the way for a March 2012 construction start date necessary to begin December 2013 service. Turns out, around the same time Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was announcing she had secured an additional $3 mil in federal funds for the starter line. Said a press release issued Thursday by Johnson's office, "The project encourages the use of energy-efficient transit options rather than less fuel-efficient modes of transportation. The project also increases economic competitiveness by enhancing the ability of the downtown area to attract transit-oriented development. In addition, it provides sustainability for future riders." Either that, or it's one fancy federally funded "urban decoration."
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Regardless, I've been trying to find out how Dallas got the extra $3 million. Wasn't easy. But a source in the U.S. Department of Transportation tells Unfair Park this morning that the money came from a pile of $15.2 million that was freed up after other TIGER-funded projects were able to wrap up without using all of their federal money, among 'em: U.S. 93 in Montana, the Otay Mesa project in California, U.S. 491 in New Mexico and our own State Highway 161.