Transit agency approves funding for 26-mile passenger rail line through North Texas suburbs

Plans to advance funding for the Cotton Belt line passed 13-2 at a Sept. 12 Dallas Area Rapid Transit board meeting.

Plans to advance funding for the Cotton Belt line passed 13-2 at a Sept. 12 Dallas Area Rapid Transit board meeting.

Prospects for a 26-mile suburban passenger rail line that would run through downtown Plano were bolstered this week as transportation officials approved a funding plan for the $1.1 billion project.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit board members on Tuesday approved moving forward with a series of financing options for two major capital projects, including a subway project in downtown Dallas and the suburban Cotton Belt line, which would supply east-west rail connecting downtown Plano to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The projects would be funded through a combination of bonds, federal loans and internal and external revenues, according to agency documents.

The funding for the Cotton Belt line had been a cause for concern among Plano City Council members, who worried publicly that the DART board might not reach a consensus to fund both projects. City staff believe the suburban rail line could be a catalyst for serious economic growth in and around downtown Plano—specifically along the 12th Street corridor.

The financing resolution also anticipates a separate $1.3 billion in funding for the D2 subway. Some Dallas City Council members have been openly skeptical of DART’s ability to finance both projects simultaneously.

“Even if you think [the Cotton Belt line] is a great project, no one who really is a transit advocate would put the Cotton Belt at a higher priority than the D2,” Dallas City Council Member Philip Kingston said in a previous interview with Community Impact Newspaper.

DART board members ultimately approved funding for both projects, 13-2.

Correction: A previous version of this story overstated the estimated cost of the Cotton Belt line project by approximately $200 million. DART officials expect the project to cost $1.1 billion.


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