Media Relations Contact:
Morgan Lyons, DART
Frank Librio, City of Dallas
March 12, 2007
Full speed ahead for DART Green Line
Dallas, DART Agree to Drop Love Field Tunnel
Construction of the DART Rail Green Line - which will extend 27.7 miles from Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas to Carrollton - will stay on schedule, and the City of Dallas will drop its push for a direct tunnel connection from the rail line into Dallas Love Field.
The Green Line is the largest portion of an expansion that will lead to the doubling of DART's rail network to more than 90 miles by 2013. The first phase of the project extends southeast of downtown Dallas to Fair Park. That section is scheduled to open in September 2009. The remainder of the Green Line will open in December 2010.
Instead, the city and DART will continue working on an alternative transit access from DART's rail into the terminal area, including a people mover system and traffic improvements to the nearby neighborhood.
The developments occurred after city officials contacted a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) official Thursday (March 8) to make a case for a direct tunnel connection and learned that any changes to the current route or station configuration would cause DART to be in breach of contract with the FTA, jeopardizing DART's $700 million in federal funds for the $1.4 billion Green Line. In 2004, the FTA said the project would not be recommended if it included the tunnel, concluding it did not generate enough benefits (ridership and travel-time savings) to justify the increased project cost.
Federal funds were ultimately approved in July 2006 for the alternate route just west of Love Field and DART entered into a binding Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the FTA. Green Line construction began in August.
Although the city of Dallas continues to believe that a direct DART light rail connection into the Love Field terminal would make the most sense for both airport passengers and the surrounding neighborhoods, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller says the city would never do anything to threaten DART's ambitious expansion plans, which have been a great economic boon to the city and region.
Mayor Miller said that the Dallas City Council is on a two-week spring break and is not scheduled to meet on the Love Field tunnel issue until March 26. But with neighborhood groups headed to Washington this week to lobby Congress on the issue, and Dallas council members going to Washington for the National League of Cities meeting, Mayor Miller felt it necessary to put the issue to bed and ensure unity with DART before Congress.
The council members who last week led the effort to revisit the tunnel issue support the truce, Miller said. The full council will discuss the issue on March 26 as planned at the City Council's Transportation and Telecommunications committee.
Dallas officials asked DART to revisit the Love Field tunnel option in February after residents living near the airport along the rail alignment raised concerns, and in light of the possible impact of the repeal of the Wright Amendment - which restricted flights at Love Field - on Green Line ridership.
City, DART continue working together on Green Line
"Although it's not the outcome we had hoped for, we understand there really is no alternative, except to proceed without the tunnel," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said. "The DART Rail expansion is too important to the City of Dallas and the entire region to risk the loss of federal funds and the current schedule. I am confident we will be able to work with DART productively to minimize any negative impact on the adjacent neighborhood and maximize the benefit of having Green Line rail service. I appreciate the FTA and DART's efforts this past week to address our questions," Miller said.
DART had previously committed $900,000 toward mobility, noise and visual betterments in Love Field area-neighborhood adjacent to Little Denton Drive. In addition, DART is planning to invest an additional $3.5-million for street and road improvements along Little Denton Drive.
DART Board Chairman Mark Enoch said the investments are evidence of the agency's commitment to continue working with the city. "We have already committed funds to support a future alternative connection to the Love Field terminal. We are committed to meeting all of our obligations to our cities and our federal partners as we build the project. We are also committed to growing our successful reputation in Washington that allowed DART to win one of the largest FFGAs in history; a reputation for bringing in our projects ahead of schedule and under budget."
Dallas City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, who represents the Love Field area, said she is disappointed that the FTA would not consider amending DART's Full Funding Grant Agreement to connect the rail line directly to the airport terminal via a tunnel.
Green Line heart of DART expansion
When complete, the Green Line will serve several regional destinations, including Deep Ellum, Baylor University Medical Center, Victory Park, the Dallas Market Center, the UT Southwestern Medical District, Love Field Airport, and the cities of Farmers Branch and Carrollton.
A branch known as the Orange Line will extend from the Green Line in northwest Dallas to the Las Colinas Urban Center in North Irving in 2011, and to DFW International Airport by 2013. In addition, DART's Blue Line will be extended from Garland, east to Rowlett in 2012, and south to I-20 in 2018. And a second rail line will open in the Dallas Central Business District in 2013 to accommodate the completed 93-mile system. Altogether, the rail extensions are expected to add 60,000 weekday passenger trips, essentially doubling ridership.
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