Oak Cliff Streetcar Poised to Get $30 Million, Connect to Convention Center and Bishop Arts

Categories: Transportation

StreetcarDartPhoto.jpg
Current Photo by Alex Scott/Historic Photo courtesy of Dallas Historical Society
When Jason Roberts and his crew at the Oak Cliff Transit Authority first began trying to fund a streetcar line connect downtown with Oak Cliff, they asked the feds for around $48 million. They got only half of that. They've scraped together a bit more funding from various sources, but not enough to extend the line past Methodist Hospital, which is still nearly a mile from Bishop Arts.

The North Central Texas Council of Government's Regional Transportation Council will vote Thursday on whether to allocate an additional $30.87 million to the project. That money has been sitting in the RTC's coffers since 2004, when it was set aside for a connection between downtown DART's Green Line and Love Field.

According to RTC briefing documents, the money will be doled out in three stages. The first $8 million will go to purchase two streetcars. The second $12.87 million chunk will fund the extension to the intersection of Zang Boulevard and Davis Street. The remainder will be used for a link to the Convention Center Hotel.

Roberts was rather delighted with the news.

"That will basically complete the last part of the funding we wanted," he said.

There were times after the initial infusion of funding when he and others questioned the wisdom of building a streetcar that stopped well short of its intended -- or really any -- destination. But then he talked to planners in Portland who had overseen the streetcar project there.

"'The key is to get a stake in the ground and you will see as time progresses more funds will materialize,'" he remembers them telling him.

Which is exactly what happened. I have messages out to Keith Manoy, the city's streetcar guru, and the RTC and will update when I hear back.

Update at 1:36 p.m.: Tom Shelton, a senior program manager with NCTCOG, said the funding became available once it became clear that the Love Field connector, which was envisioned as a way to move people from the DART station to the airport terminal, was going nowhere.

Shelton and others with the council approached the city to suggest they put the money toward streetcars.

"It's fair to say the city of Dallas' priorities have changed," he said. "They have a real commitment to a streetcar network and system."

The extension will add another 0.7 miles or so to the line but, more important, will bring it close to Bishop Arts which "really makes this a much better project," Shelton said.

As an added benefit, the extension can be completed using the contractor that is working on the project's first phase, thereby avoiding another time-consuming round of bidding, which would take months.


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37 comments
rusknative
rusknative

AND JUST WHO IS GOING TO PROVIDE THE FARE PAYING RIDERSHIP TO ACTUALLY SUSTAIN THIS WET DREAM OF FOOLS USING OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY?

icowrich
icowrich

The extension to the Omni might mean that downtown route will be on Young and not Main, which was on of the other proposed routes.

Personally, I was rooting for Main Street, but I'll take what I can get.

timdickey
timdickey

It's a shame we lost the connector to Love Field on the Green Line. No explanation from NCTCOG about why it's "going nowhere"? That connection was promised when DART (pushed by Carrollton and Farmers Branch) nixed the direct tunnel connection as an option years ago in the Major Investment Study planning phase. Connecting the Green Line and the D/FW Airport Orange Line  to Love Field makes so much more sense than a trolley to Bishop Arts. 

MattL11
MattL11

"Every great idea had a point in time when it was thought a bad idea by a bunch of fucking blog commenters." 

-Jesus

Who knows? This one might actually work out. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

Dear Lord, a trolley to nowhere instead of useful infrastructure connecting a major airfield to the local light rail.

Dallas is ruled by utter nincompoops.


BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

It's smart of them to secure the funding to expand now. Once it's up and running and people see what a total boondoggle this is then it will be much harder to get more money to throw down the toilet.

downtownworker
downtownworker

Excellent news that the line now connects to the Bishop Arts area (or at least a comfortable walk). Second, connecting the Omni hotel to Bishop Arts is a HUGE gift to the people in charge of selling the hotel, which is now much more marketable. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Great idea. Who needs a public transportation connection to a major airport anyway? World class cities make visitors take shuttles and cabs driven by idiots.

gangstead1
gangstead1

Why do we no longer get a connector to Love Field?

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

See how "bike friendly" it is when cyclists start going over the handlebars after their front wheel gets caught in the rails. 

Smug clueless idiots. 

kduble
kduble

They've been looking at Young ever since DART's D-2 line foundered. That why the streetcar stopped at the edge of the bridge by the Dallas Morning News rather than extending 3 more blocks to attract all the additional riders that could have waited in comfort indoors at Union Station, Cindy's and Founder's Grill.

I, too would have preferred Main. At least the new line will serve the Convention Center, Pioneer Plaza and the Aloft Hotel, as well as the Omni.

kduble
kduble

The Love Field situation is really awful. I was among those attending the planning meetings saying that, if Dallas failed to run the train under the terminal like other cities, they'd regret it forever. It came down to funding, and guidelines. The other 12 DART member cities wouldn't support paying extra for a tunnel that would mainly benefit Dallas citizens flying Southwest, so the city council would have had to line up its own funding. It tried, but the deadlines didn't mesh. This is one instances when the Dallas City Council should have had the huevos to dig in their heels and say, no tunnel, no rail line.

Another such crossroads will be coming up in a few years. If DART runs D-2 down Young or Marilla without linking Union Station, it will be a similar missed opportunity.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@timdickey The tunnel connector needed to die.  Both a connector and something connecting to Oak Cliff are needed.  But, an East Dallas trolley line would do much too. 

kduble
kduble

Not really. The moving sidewalk tunnel would be an imperfect fix for trying to build a rail system on the cheap by laying tracks that aren't where people want to go.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@BushwoodSmithie All utilities infrastructure is subsidized.  Go to Kenya, your small gov't utopia.  If you are correct, cities couldn't exist--who want's that infrastructure?  Evidently more of them than the retrograde reactionaries such as yourself. 

kduble
kduble

Selling the hotel helps sell the convention center, and a successful convention center means more business for everyone. Much to my surprise, we have 3 new hotels under development since the Omni opened, so it hasn't sucked the life out of downtown's hotel industry, as I'd feared. And for downtown's bars and restaurants, there is no downside.

kduble
kduble

Agreed, but you're a decade late to the table. The real mistake was the routing of the rail line to save money by avoiding tunneling. Now, its so far from Love that there really isn't a convincing fix.

kduble
kduble

Perhaps we will someday, but it's really hard to go back and fix a rail alignment built on the cheap.

kduble
kduble

Streetcar tracks might not be bike friendly. But the pedestrian culture they encourage certainly is.

downtownworker
downtownworker

@keepcensoringDO If we were truly a bike-friendly city, there would not be any shared lanes and bikes would never touch trolley tracks.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@keepcensoringDO 

you should take a few moments to look at bicyclists on McKinney Avenue, who apparently don't have the same problem you have with the streetcar rails. they aren't "going over the handlebars".it's really easy, you don't have your wheel going with the rail, you go perpendicular when coming into contact.

with your issues with operating a bike, you should always wear a helmet. that being said, I'm not sure there's much to protect up there...

timdickey
timdickey

@scottindallas @timdickey Scott- I'm willing to consider your point, but can you explain why the tunnel needed to die, other than that building it would have delayed the Green Line's extension to FB and Carrollton by a couple of years (which is a valid point for those communities)?

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@downtownworker @keepcensoringDO Bikes, nor car tires or feet would ever touch trolley tracks if they were never placed in the middle of the road to begin with. Why not an electric trackless trolley with just the overhead catenary? Cheaper and they don't get in the way and fuck up traffic for everyone else. Oh right.. because that doesn't fit with the liberal agenda of trying to FORCE everyone else onto public transit by making any other option inconvenient. 

BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

@downtownworker @keepcensoringDO Since all non-limited access roads in the  state of Texas are shared lanes, are you proposing we get rid of all roads, or just all cars, buses, trucks and light rail lines?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@mavdog @keepcensoringDO I suspect he wears a couple of head protectors, padded helmet AND tin-foil hat--and, he has to fit all that under his white pillowcase/hood

timdickey
timdickey

@scottindallas @timdickey If an at-grade connector is feasible, I agree, that's a better option than a tunnel. My understanding is that because of runways and other infrastructure, at-grade wouldn't work.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@timdickey @scottindallas price/cost.  There's nothing between the Green Line and Love Field worth so protecting that we'd tunnel under it.  I've bought quite a bit of lumber from Lee Roy Jordan over there, but his lumber yard could be razed and paid off for less than the cost of a tunnel. 

kduble
kduble

We've had rubber-tired streetcars here in Texas even in my lifetime. I can remember them way back in the 1950s. It was the final stage before buses took over.

I remember in Fort Worth, they were a sickly, faded turquoise color; turquoise and white.

icowrich
icowrich

@keepcensoringDO That could work, but only if the street were painted so that people can see where the "virtual tracks" go.  The main advantage to tracks is that they make the streetcar destination intuitive to a potential rider.  People who won't ride buses will ride streetcars because there is less confusion over where it is going.

drtz
drtz

@keepcensoringDO @downtownworker 

"Oh right.. because that doesn't fit with the liberal agenda of trying to FORCE everyone else onto public transit by making any other option inconvenient."

Lolz, you obviously live in some other city.

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