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Fort Worth Council Votes Against Streetcar Project, Gives Up $25 Million in Federal Grant

A couple of weeks back we posted that photo of the borrowed streetcar parked in downtown Fort Worth, which city officials said they'd put there to get folks excited about spending that $25 million Urban Circulator Grant. At which point, several Fort Worth-l-i-v-i-n Friends of Unfair Park cautioned: It's just for show. They predicted that the Fort Worth council, following a scheduled town hall, would ultimately opt not to move forward with the modern streetcar project. Which is precisely what Dallas City Council member Linda Koop said in November, when she asked whether Dallas could snag that federal dough for its downtown streetcar project that's full-steam ahead.

Turns out, they were right: On Fortworthology this morning, Kevin Buchanan writes at length about last night's vote -- 5-3 against. An excerpt.

A combination of misinformation (whether it was via ignorance or intentional misdirection is a question history will decide), me-first can't-do attitudes, and complete political spinelessness on the part of the council got us here. Particularly disappointing is Mayor Moncrief, who has supported the project for years. He folded to back-room politics and wimped out of standing behind the project.

So now what happens to the feds' money? Well, it more than likely goes back to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which had thousands of applications for that transpo dough. Tom Shelton, the North Central Texas Council of Governments senior program manager for transportation, tells Unfair Park this morning that he's spoken with the D.O.T. and Federal Transit Administration officials about the likelihood of Fort Worth surrendering the grant.

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"The early indications from D.O.T. and F.T.A. are that their original grant award was in response to the actual application submitted for the Fort Worth streetcar," says Shelton, who adds that he's "surprised and disappointed" by Fort Worth's decision and hoped the council would vote for the project up till the last minute. "And their response was if that the recipient elected not to use that money, it'll go back to Washington and they'll determine what to do with the money." That said, adds Shelton, he'll go back to D.C. and ask again: "We're not shy about making our case and expressing we have needs in the region."

As for Dallas's streetcars, Shelton says it's coming along: "We're moving forward. The only issue is we're working with a limited budget, and we'll have to figure out how far it'll be stretched."

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