A Sneak Peek at the Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor. One Day. Fingers Crossed.

Categories: Transportation

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.
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30 comments
Ed D.
Ed D.

Regional rail that directly serves DFW airport would catch us up to Chicago, Atlanta, and other cities with useful public transportation.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I hope they're running this 'innovative financing' through a legal department somewhere.  It usually turns out that innovative financing in Dallas means graft, coercion, blackmail, bribery, and a whole bunch of people paying a whole bunch of money and not getting anything tangible in return.As for the Northern suburbs co-opting Dallas sales tax money, screw that.  I live in the farthest north part of dallas, right at Midway and George Bush (Yes it is City of Dallas, not Carrollton or Plano), and we're grossly underserved by DART.  I'm not complaining, as I drive as a necessity, but I'm sure an area with nothing but B and C class apartment properties with high occupancy could fill quite a few buses into downtown areas.

Jonathan Braddick
Jonathan Braddick

While DART was finalizing it's 2030 plan (which recently it had to seriously scale back because of revenue problems), there was a LBJ east-west LRT alignment option on the table that got wacked.  It was a pretty good route that took it along LBJ and served Garland to Addison and eventually linking up to areas that include the Cotton Belt. 

I'd rather have seen the LBJ alignment get done instead of this one as it went through middle and lower end socio-economic neighborhoods that would have been well served.  I believe there was quite a bit of land acquisition and a pretty high cost that ultimately kept it out of the 2030 plan, and the fact this project was being pushed by the northern suburbs.

While this is a good project and has potential, I think that other projects need to be done before this one. D2 (the second downtown route) needs to happen.  I feel like i'm on an antique streetcar line when rolling through downtown now as it stops so frequently because the trains don't have automatic preference when crossing traffic.  D2 would allow for shorter waiting times and provide access to southern downtown.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Sensical = An east to west train line via LBJ and even via NW Highway. Densely populated areas that would provide foot traffic to surrounding businesses.WHY do I have to subsidize more suburban sprawl? Who are the visionaries, planners and savants wasting so much money on a train that will run thru some pastures? Heck, you want to spend money wisely. fix the damned Lemmon Avenue that looks like a stair. And lately like an alpine ski track.Wilonsky WHO plans this crap? Intreview him or her. They should be accountable for this non necessary projects.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

DART.OWNS.THE.TRACKS

Can we move on?

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

We cant move on. Thats the issue. Just because they own tracks in Oklahoma, it does not make sense to build and expand DART in Oklahoma when the users are in the city.The LBJ project could have been the opportunity to link colleges, shopping, apartments (of various prices), offices, hotels, churches and the logical east-west corridor. But someone just seems not to have the vision.

icowrich
icowrich

The University of Dallas has a rail stop, too.

JoeyB
JoeyB

You are misinformed. This does all that. UTD for example would have the only commuter rail stop of any University in Texas and it would be connected to DFW airport. There are many apartments and dense areas along the way built and yet to be built. Given the nature of the project there is no way you would get multiple jurisdictions to agree on a project that would benefit mainly Dallas. Why would anyone but Dallas do that?

Russp
Russp

But our sales taxes fund DART. Maybe it's time to vote ourselves out.

Gabe
Gabe

Of the some dozen billions DART has received in sales tax, approximately half came from the city of Dallas, while the majority of DART infrastructure is within it's city limits. The story of DART is not one wherein the suburban cities take Dallas for a ride. 

Livable Perspective
Livable Perspective

Same old mentality. The money would have been better spent on using LBJ as a rail corridor rather than shoving a toll tunnel underneath the main lanes. However the Cotton Belt would bring rail transit to Addison which is currently very under served by DART. Many years ago the current DNT route was envisioned as a transit alignment but of course that never happened.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

DART.OWNS.THE.TRACKSCan we move on?

Livable Perspective
Livable Perspective

You are stating the obvious. Nobody is questioning that fact. This is a discussion forum, we're simply debating ideas.

mightcan
mightcan

Do you have the wrong video link? It looks like the orange line...

Russp
Russp

Why is it all the supposed east to west projects ignore the northeast parts of Dallas county and instead head up into Richardson and Plano? It happened with the George Bush and this looks like more of the same. The couple of times I looked into public transportation to get from my home in Carrollton to my job on the Dallas/Garland line; a 30 minute drive was turned into a 3 hour waste of time. I either had to catch 4 buses or take a train to downtown Dallas and then another to the Skillmanstation followed by a bus or healthy walk. 

Gabe
Gabe

 What was the proposed route that would NOT have taken George Bush through Richardson?

JoeyB
JoeyB

George Bush doesn't go through Richardson except on the far east side. It goes next to it. Where would you expect it to go? You probably weren't around but the next outer ring before Bush was proposed at one time at Campbell Road! You have to get right of way rights and that was pretty much the only place you were going to get it except maybe southward into Richardson.

Russp
Russp

Not sure of the original plans. I just always thought it was odd that the section of the Bush starting at 35E is parallel to Trinity Mills and then it suddenly takes a hard left at Kelly and goes miles north up to Plano Parkway and doesn't come back into Dallas County until it hits the far northeast side of Garland.

Justin C
Justin C

PGBT started as a project called "Loop 9" in the 1960s. The 1967 transportation study called it "Outer Freeway Loop" and it was entirely in Dallas County. By 1980 the land acquisition for it was too expensive, and Florence Shaprio wrangled the first president Bush into pushing for it to be a toll road further out. Rosewood and Perot donated heaps of their land for it to be built (and to enrich themselves) further out in Collin County. Plano and Richardson realigned their city limits to the centerline of the roadway. The sharp curve in Carrollton is where the Rosewood/Perot land donations have to reconcile with the Txdot purchased properties to the southwest.

Gabe
Gabe

LBJ would have made a great east-west transit corridor, but the transport planners are still operating on a discredited 1950's mentality wherein more car lanes = less traffic. So they chose to spend billions on double decking the highway.

And there is some support for eventually extending the cotton belt to Murphy and Wylie. Probably won't happen until well after 2050 though.  

Guest
Guest

In the case of the Cotton Belt Line, I assume that the fact that most of that track is already there (and already owned by DART) is dictating a lot of the alignment.

Urban Observer
Urban Observer

It looks like the UTD stop is over half 'wetlands' ... tons of development opportunity there!

Livable Perspective
Livable Perspective

Good to hear that this project is still somewhat alive. However I am concerned that it's an overpriced method to shuttle people from the North burbs to DFW Airport. I support this project yet when transit funds are so scarce, I think new subway and street cars lines inside the LBJ loop would be money better spent with far higher ridership. 

Gabe
Gabe

It's apples and oranges. Local transportation issues have a much smaller funding base. The Cotton Belt has a lot of stake holders to help split the bill. 

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

What's with the Art Deco font? Now there will be even more confusion between Cotton Belt and Cotton Bowl.

Stacy
Stacy

3 stops all within 1/2 a mile of each other in N Dallas.....oh come on....I live on Knoll Trail and I can walk to the Addison stop which is 2 blocks away as well as the Preston stop......I hope these all ain't park and rides!!!!

John Nathan
John Nathan

Knoll Trail is on the other side of a busy freeway from Addison Circle.  Sure you can cross at Arapaho, however the majority of people won't do that.  DART must have thought that having these three stations would be very beneficial, as they each are places of higher density, or they have potential for higher density... well except for Preston.  I don't understand their decision to put a station there, as it's low density and there's almost no room to grow.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

"however the majority of people won't do that." LOL - in Dallas they won't. 

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