A Sneak Peek at the Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor. One Day. Fingers Crossed.
Friend of Unfair Park BigJonDaniel passes along the video you see above: a Dallas Area Rapid Transit-produced sneak peek at the Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor, which would stretch from Wylie to southwest Fort Worth. Of course, right now it's closer to concept than reality: Last summer, the North Central Texas Council of Governments signed on to raise money for the massive project in the hopes of securing private and public funds. But the environmental impact study's underway, and due by winter, because, as DART spokesman Morgan Lyons says this morning, "should funding come available, particularly in the form of federal funds, we'd like to be in a position to move forward" as quickly as possible.
"The COG is continuing their work on innovative financing to try to accelerate the project," he says. "It was one of those things we wanted to do, then the economy happened, and we had to step way back from that."
I see a Cotton Belt update's actually on the Rail Corridor Ad Hoc Negotiation Committee's meeting agenda for tomorrow at DART HQ. And there's much to negotiate, as the project will involve not only DART, but also the Fort Worth Transit Authority, Fort Worth and Western Railroad, Union Pacific and several others to the west. "There are a lot of moving pieces," as Lyons puts it. DART's also hoping that if and when the line's up and running it can use diesel-electric hybrid trains, rather than standard commuter-line trains.
Incidentally, the video's by no means a final look at the Cotton Belt's alignment; Lyons says it's just a rough approximation, as discussions are still taking place with Addison (which hopes to use its transit center as a rail station) and as Orange Line construction to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport continues. (A new video featuring that work-in-progress is below.)
"Our feeling is most folks using the Cotton Belt will want to go east-west," Lyons says. "Because the T's also working on their project, which uses the Cotton Belt, their vision is to bring it from the west on to the airport. But the broader regional vision has it going from the Red Line to southwest Fort Worth, and there are a lot of partners on the west side ... But the thing about the Cotton Belt that's unique is that it would connect the Red Line and the Green Line with this new light-rail technology vehicle on out to the airport, so there's a lot of opportunity there." One day.