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Oak Cliff Streetcar Is Paid For, Inexplicably Stalled

In a memo prepared in advance of Dallas City manager A.C. Gonzalez' first of what he promises to be periodic progress report to the City Council, council member Scott Griggs outlined multiple issues with the city's Trinity office and transportation department. Among them is the stagnation of the Oak Cliff streetcar project meant to connect the Omni hotel downtown to the Bishop Arts District.

"In this department you've got the failing to do due diligence in the hiring of the convicted animal abuser to run the horse park, you've got the Houston Street viaduct not getting timely repairs and you have this [the failure to proceed with the streetcar project], the department is absolutely paralyzed," Griggs says.

Phase one of the project only goes the 1.6 miles from Union Station to the intersection of Beckley and Colorado, stopping about three quarters of mile short of Bishop Arts. Until phases two and three are complete, the streetcar doesn't really go anywhere.

"Phase one will not have the ridership [of the completed project]," Griggs says. "That's why we don't want delays, because we don't want anyone to say 'why isn't anyone on it.' The first phase was critical to get across the river, the mile across the river is a huge step, now we have to get it to a destination on each side."

The project is stuck, Griggs says, because with phase one complete, Gonzalez has failed to act to get phases two and three started, despite their being paid for and essential to making the streetcar useful.

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The city has over $30 million in transportation funds from various agencies earmarked for the streetcar languishing in the bank waiting to go to the company that successfully bids to complete the latter phases of track installation.

"Management needs to better organize communication, they need to act on these deliverables and they need to get the project done," Griggs says. "We've got the money, they just have to put it out for bid. We'll get people that bid on it."

The project isn't getting done because, for whatever reason, it isn't a priority.

"This is a city manager that when he was an [assistant city manager] built a $500 million convention center hotel in 18 months. In one year, he can lay just over a mile worth of track."

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