DCTA works to expand its A-train to the Cotton Belt line and TWU

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Denton County Transportation Authority officials are working with local authorities to expand mass-transit options for Lewisville and Highland Village residents.

With the expansion those residents will be able to get to work in cities as far east as Plano or the airport via the agency’s A-train, saving them from having to burn gas or time in heavily congested roadways.

DCTA is looking to extend its service to the south to connect to Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Cotton Belt line, which is expected to be complete in 2022. The agency is also planning to extend north to Texas Woman’s University and possibly all the way to US 380.

Currently, the 21-mile A-train goes from Downtown Denton to Lewisville before connecting to Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Green line.

DCTA officials said expanding the A-train is necessary to help relieve road congestion in the future.

“As the North Texas region continues to grow, the extension of the A-train will complete a crucial element of the regional metropolitan transportation plan,” DCTA board Chairman Charles Emery said. “And [it]will be key to enhancing regional connectivity and mobility, improving air quality, increasing economic development opportunities along the corridor and livability in the many communities DCTA serves.”

Lewisville Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Jones said this is something the city of Lewisville supports.

“I would like to see more rail options for Lewisville residents,” he said. “At some point our roads will be at capacity, and it is imperative that we work on creating a regional rail system in the Metroplex.”

How would it be funded?

DCTA Deputy CEO Kristina Holcomb said the agency is conducting a feasibility study and doing preliminary planning on the extensions. DCTA is unsure how much the projects would cost or how soon they could become a reality, she said.

“There are so many pieces that it is hard to put a timeline on it,” she said. “The A-train extension is not something that will occur immediately. But once we conduct those preliminary studies, those results will help inform the agency.”

Holcomb said DCTA would not ask its member cities—Lewisville, Highland Village and Denton—to increase their share of sales tax revenue in order to make the extensions possible.

“They have allocated a half-cent of their sales tax by voter approval, and that’s the max we expect to get from them,” she said. “So we would have to work with the existing revenues.”

Holcomb said the agency would ideally extend the A-train in three phases.

One phase would be southbound from the Trinity Mills Station to DART’s Downtown Carrollton Station. The southbound phase would eliminate passengers from having to get off the A-train and switch to the DART train. A second phase would be northbound from the DCTA’s Downtown Denton Station to TWU or 380. A third phase would be from the downtown Carrollton Station to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal B. DCTA would be putting its railcars on the Cotton Belt to achieve this extension.

“We could very well use different funding mechanisms for each phase,” she said. “Those things we can better identify once we get done with the preliminary planning process.”

She added that through conversations with stakeholders, the board of directors and funding partners, the agency will decide which phase will happen first.

The agency is coordinating with TWU and DART as to what the future stations at TWU and at DART’s Downtown Carrollton Station will look like.

“In DART’s plans they have set aside an area where the A-train could have a platform,” Holcomb said. “We will continue to work with them as they move forward with their Cotton Belt implementation.”

Benefits of the extensions

DCTA board member Dianne Costa, who represents Highland Village, said the extensions will help prepare the region for future growth.

“[The board] has to look out decades from where we are now and plan,” she said. “And we realize now that Collin County and Denton County are going to significantly grow, and we are going to need to find a way for all of those people to get around.”

Costa said increasing mobility on the A-train will help attract large companies to North Texas.

“Big employers are always asking, ‘How are we going to get the people that we need to work to our businesses?’” she said. “Not only that, what we are finding is these businesses that are coming to the Dallas area are calling Highland Village for housing needs. The extension will allow for a more seamless ride for people to get from Dallas to Highland Village.”

Holcomb said extending the A-train to the airport would increase employment opportunities.

Right now, people have to take the A-train, transfer to DART’s green line and then get on DART’s orange line to get to the airport, she said.

“We are looking at taking our vehicle straight to the airport, and that would provide a better direct access for our riders,” Holcomb said. “The DFW Airport is one of the largest employers in the region, and for us to have improved access to that airport could greatly benefit Denton County residents.”

If the A-train does go to the airport, Holcomb said, the agency would need new railcars. The current ones would not align correctly on the new Cotton Belt line, she said.

Extending the A-train north has benefits as well, Holcomb said.

“Extending the A-train northbound would help us meet needs of the growing area and provide additional connectivity for over 12,000 students, faculty and staff at TWU and the surrounding area,” she said.

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Sherelle Black
Sherelle joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2014 as a reporter for the Grapevine/Colleyville/Southlake edition. She was promoted in 2015 to editor of the GCS edition. In August 2017, Sherelle became the editor of the Lewisville/Flower Mound/Highland Village edition. Sherelle covers transportation, economic development, education and features.
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