Why Dallas's Streetcars Got the Feds' Transportation Funds, Not Fort Worth's

As mentioned below, the North Central Texas Council of Governments is indeed "seeking clarification" from the U.S. Department of Transportation concerning today's announcement that Dallas is getting $23 million to fund the downtown streetcar project. NCTCOG wants to know if Fort Worth is supposed to be getting a piece of that pie -- since, after all, NCTCOG made the request on behalf of both cities in its $96 million joint grant application.

Michael Morris is supposed to respond upon his return to the office, but Cathy St. Denis at the USDOT finally responded to Unfair Park's request for a clarification. In short, she says, "Fort Worth is not a part of this. The money is just for Dallas." And why's that?

"The typical awardee averaged about one-third of their request," St. Denis says. "So we couldn't completely fund the Dallas-Fort Worth streetcar project at the requested level. And, we were impressed by how well Dallas had lined up its local match and the other requirements necessary to get the project under way."

Update at 5:51 p.m.: We just received the Official Statement from Dallas City Hall, which includes quotes from Mayor Tom Leppert and council members Angela Hunt and Linda Koop. Jump for it.

City of Dallas receives federal stimulus grant funds for downtown streetcars

DALLAS, TX - The City of Dallas received notification today of an award for $23 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant funding for Downtown Dallas streetcars.

"This project will improve transportation within downtown Dallas by creating a seamless transit connection and providing a multi-modal link between jobs and residents," said Mayor Tom Leppert. Mayor Leppert had praise for Dallas' congressional delegation, especially Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and her support for the project. Mayor Leppert said he was pleased that US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was able to visit Dallas and see for himself how the city's streetcar plan would improve transportation linkages, build the local economy and move Dallas closer to being a sustainable city.

"This project specifically targets commuters in mixed use districts adjacent to downtown and will help create a transit network linking urban areas by providing multiple transportation alternatives," said Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose district includes downtown.

The proposed line originates in Downtown Dallas at Harwood and Main Street. The line includes stops at the Convention Center Hotel, Trinity River Park, and Union Station, and continues into the North Oak Cliff Methodist Medical Center District.

"Clearly, this project will link walkable, mixed use neighborhoods in the urban core with employment centers throughout the region, as well as create hundreds of new jobs in Dallas," said Councilwoman Linda Koop, Chair of the Council's Transportation and Environment Committee.

The Recovery Act application, submitted in coordination with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the City of Fort Worth, included a total budget request of $96 million. The City of Dallas requested $48 million for its portion of the streetcar project, with a total project cost of $58 million.

This award is one of only two TIGER discretionary grant projects awarded in the state of Texas, the other being Highway 161 project in Irving and Grand Prairie.  

Overall, the City of Dallas has received over $123 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for projects such as increasing the number of police officers citywide, assisting persons at risk of homelessness through the provision of housing and utility assistance, providing housing weatherization services and minor repair to qualifying households, completing roadway projects, and funding public services such as community courts and low birth weight programs.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky