DART invites public input on downtown Dallas expansion

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DART hosted two open houses in December to get public input on a proposed downtown Dallas expansion.
Hayley Enoch
DALLAS – In a pair of public meetings held last Thursday, Dallas Area Rapid Transit invited the public to offer comments and concerns to guide the final decision on where new light rail corridors serving downtown Dallas will be located.

Engineering and environmental studies conducted on the feasibility of the D2 Alignment, as DART refer to the planned expansion, highlighted a Locally Preferred Alternative and two additional options for the easternmost portions of the D2 route. All alternatives bring light rail service closer to Dallas’s Museum District, City Hall and a number of other government buildings, the Harwood District, and the Dallas Farmer’s Market. The expansion will include up to five new stations and a possible spur that will make Dallas Convention Center accessible by rail and connect DART’s system to the proposed location for the Texas Central Railway’s Dallas station.

While speaking at the meetings, DART Vice President of Rail Planning Steve Salin urged members of the public to communicate any concerns with the proposed routes. “We’ll admit right off the bat that we don’t have all the answers, but we’ll get there," he said. "We’re looking for opportunities to resolve issues.”

Attendees eagerly voiced concerns about noise abatement and whether some of the roads along the routes were wide enough to safely admit mixed-use traffic. The proposal to construct the spur to the Convention Center and portions of the "Locally Preferred Alternative" option underground also drew a number of comments. DART officials stated in response that geological surveys show a seam of rock ideal for tunnel building below downtown Dallas, and that none of the the increasingly frequent earthquakes in the North Texas have been high enough in magnitude to pose a danger to subway structures. DART’s network includes one other underground station.

DART’s anticipates that the D2 Alignment will be an improvement over the existing operations no matter where the new corridor is located. Since all four of DART’s light rail trains currently share a single corridor through downtown Dallas, automobile accidents and other problems that occur in that area can delay operations on DART’s entire 90-mile system. The D2 Alignment will significantly alleviate this congestion by moving two of the light rail routes onto the new tracks and, in conjunction with a 2016 initiative to remodel the stations on the Blue and Red Lines with longer platforms, will increase the total number of trains and coaches that DART can operate at a given time.

DART will hold three more public meetings before the final route is decided, and encourages members of the public to submit comments at any time as the planning process elapses over the next two years. The agency expects that construction on the D2 Alignment will begin in 2017 and intends to begin service in 2021.

For more information, go to www.dart.org.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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