Union Station-to-Oak Cliff Streetcar Line Gets an Additional $3 Million From the Feds

Categories: Transportation
streetcarthenandnow.jpg
Current Photo By Alex Scott/Historic Photo ©Dallas Historical Society
In February 2010, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that the downtown Dallas streetcar project, then expected to run around $58 million, would get a huge hunk of its funding from the feds -- $23 million, to be precise, courtesy Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds, otherwise known as TIGER money. Which left the city to pick up the rest of the tab of the 1.6-mile-long starter line from Union Station to near Methodist Hospital, resulting in, among other things, moving close to $22 million intended for the Green Line-to-Love Field connector into the streetcar budget to cover operations and maintenance costs.

Last week the feds signed off on the Union Station to Oak Cliff Dallas Streetcar Environmental Assessment, paving the way for a March 2012 construction start date necessary to begin December 2013 service. Turns out, around the same time Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was announcing she had secured an additional $3 mil in federal funds for the starter line. Said a press release issued Thursday by Johnson's office, "The project encourages the use of energy-efficient transit options rather than less fuel-efficient modes of transportation. The project also increases economic competitiveness by enhancing the ability of the downtown area to attract transit-oriented development. In addition, it provides sustainability for future riders." Either that, or it's one fancy federally funded "urban decoration."

Regardless, I've been trying to find out how Dallas got the extra $3 million. Wasn't easy. But a source in the U.S. Department of Transportation tells Unfair Park this morning that the money came from a pile of $15.2 million that was freed up after other TIGER-funded projects were able to wrap up without using all of their federal money, among 'em: U.S. 93 in Montana, the Otay Mesa project in California, U.S. 491 in New Mexico and our own State Highway 161.

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11 comments
Dominicide
Dominicide

Streetcars. What a bunch of rot

As some alluded to, there is no DART service to Love or DFW. But instead we have service to Carrollton. Great. A train to no where. 

Lee
Lee

I guess we have to be patient, but as much as I am in favor of non-car transportation and as much as support all things Oak Cliff, I just don't understand who will ride this thing.  I always imagined a line linking Bishop Arts to the Arts District, just across the new park to Uptown.  That would be great.  I can't imagine why I would get on this thing during the day, during the week.  But, I do hope there are others that will.

oakcliffnative
oakcliffnative

I think its great idea, Let the trolley stop at Methodist Hospital, if you think about it, it benefits the new hotel there building by union station.  If you have a family member at the hospital and your staying in downtown you can now catch a Trolley from Union Station to Methodist.  The City of Dallas is going to allow shuttle service from Methodist to Bishop Arts and Jefferson.  In addition the Oak Cliff “Hill” Area by Methodist is going to be rezoned to Mix use on Dec 2011, which means shopping centers, bars, and lofts apartments. 

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

I figure EBJ got the $3 million from some spare money in the CBC Foundation Scholarship slush fund.

"Hey, Hey, EBJ, How many scholarships you steal today?"

Anonymous
Anonymous

I know it needs to start somewhere, but this thing is being set up for failure. 5am to 7pm weekday only service? And it stops in the middle of no where in Oak Cliff? 

The argument will of course be that this is just the beginning. But people will look at this and say "see, no one uses them, let's not allocate more money to this boondoggle". Extend this line to Bishop Arts and at least a portion of the the downtown lunch crowd could take it there. Run it on weekends so that downtown and Oak Cliff can interact via public transit other than bus (yes, I am a bus snob/yuppie, I will not take the bus but I will take a trolley).

Anonymous
Anonymous

I just worry that it will sap enthusiasm from other worthwhile projects in OC. The streetcar, our biggest, most high profile, most high dollar cost "achievement" will be an instant flop. And people will conclude that we are just like everyone else: overspending on pet projects that are not useful to the broader public.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Baby steps - the old trolley system may have gone away quickly, but it will take time to establish a new one. I can't think of a better part of town for this project.

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

Wilonsky,

What is the status of the Green Line to Love Field Connector?  I'm a little confused - does this streetcar line compete with those funds?

Obviously on a scale of importance, the Love Field Connector is a 10, and going to Oak Cliff is a 1.

Jonathan Braddick
Jonathan Braddick

I've used Bus 39 to catch 6 am flights many times.  When the green line first opened, they had time interval that didn't stop there and thus caused me to have to hail a cab from the station, pretty much reducing any cost savings.  But that's been resolved now and it's not a problem.  I fly once a month to Austin and use the train and bus to get there.  I separate connector doesn't seem that important if DART can do it with an existing route like bus 39

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

I believe it's dead, for now. As DART says, "That's what Bus 39 is for." But I'll dig some more -- the city couldn't decide how to proceed, last I looked, and DART was at risk of losing federal funds for Green Line, so it went ahead without it. Which is why the money was shifted to the streetcar project.

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