DART Wanted $130 Mil In DOT Funds For Line to DFW. It Got Much Less. But Anything Helps.

Only yesterday we noted the Dallas Area Rapid Transit is ready to go on that final leg of the Orange Line that'll connect with Terminal A at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The price tag's steep: $149,750,000 for the third section of the Orange Line, from Belt Line Station to DFW. And the total project will cost 'round $429,500,000 (which includes Terminal A, which DFW is funding). Which is why, as we noted yesterday, DART's seeking $130 million in federal TIGER III grant money.

Well, so happens that moments ago the Department of Transportation announced to whom it was disbursing FY2011 TIGER grants, and DART did get some money: $5 million. Says the thick doc outlining who got what and why, DART's "TIGER Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) payment will provide support for a much more robust TIFIA loan to help finance the Orange Line Extension (I-3)." DART spokesman Morgan Lyons translates:

"We'll use this money to help with loan processing fees, which will allow us to get a lower interest rate on a $150-million loan," he tells Unfair Park this morning. "It should save us about $18 million by having a lower interest rate."

DART had, of course, wanted more -- much more. Then again, the feds were hit with 'round $76 billion in requests. So better this than nothing, says Lyons.

"We're pleased any time we're able to secure federal funds," he says. "While you would always like to have $130 million, we're able to use the $5 million to help us save $18 million, which frees up cash potentially for other programs we'd like to do, like the South Oak Cliff Blue Line extension, which is on the books for 2019 and which we'd like to build sooner. If you can start stacking things like this, it starts to help."

Incidentally, those who wondered yesterday about a Terminal B connection: Lyons says DART's working with Fort Worth Transportation Authority (or, The T) and DFW on a commuter-rail connection. But that's a long way off: "The T is seeking federal funds, and there are a number of steps in the process."

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