A Very Quick, Incredibly Surface Look at the State of Downtown Transportation Wish List

Categories: News
downtownstreetcar.jpg
Squire Haskins/University of Texas at Arlington Libraries
The cutline from UTA: "Pedestrians, street cars and automobiles clog the intersection of Main Street and Akard in downtown Dallas, November 3, 1951."
The Girl on Top has asked to liveblog this afternoon's meeting of the city council's Transportation and Environment Committee meeting, given that the staff's now overrun with downtown dwellers and a topic of conversation is the Central City Long Range Transit Planning (though why we're concerned with transpo issues in The Flash's hometown is beyond me). Long story short for those not paying attention: While there's been plenty of investment in downtown in recent years, "the scale of downtown still leaves major development gaps that separate and isolate districts and prevent downtown from being perceived as cohesive, lively and pedestrian friendly." You don't say.

Two big problems: Dallas Area Rapid Transit's sales tax receipt shortfall has put the brakes on a second downtown light rail line -- doesn't matter if it's the council-preferred convention center hotel line (which would run close to $700 million) or the Union Station alternative (which is $200 mil cheaper) that's now emerging as the front-runner. And DART, which is in the middle of paring down (way down) its $6.2-billion list of projects planned over the next 20 years, won't have its budget in place till September 28.

Which means it's up to streetcars to save the day. Except ... that $23 million TIGER grant only gets the city so far, since the projected price of the streetcar line is 'round $150 million. Which means, per the briefing, "Given constraints on local funding availability, a scaled back streetcar starter segment will be necessary."

Which is better than nothing, but not nearly enough. Which brings us to my favorite line in the briefing, from North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris: "Find sufficient funding for a viable project which would connect North Oak Cliff somewhere, go over Trinity somewhere, go into downtown via Union Station and go as far as possible."

Some time within the next three, four months the city will hire an outside firm to cook up a "streetcar system plan." In the meantime, there's also the Dallas Bike Plan, which holds its first public what-up Thursday night. Oh, don't forget the Complete Streets Initiative. And Downtown Dallas 360. Something's bound to stick.
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