Dallas Area Rapid Transit opened the Orange Line in Irving on Monday, July 30, bringing new access to employment and educational opportunities, most notably in the master-planned community of Las Colinas. For the thousands of employees who commute in and out of Irving daily, the Orange Line offers fresh alternatives to driving.
The first 4.5-mile section of the 14-mile, $1.3 billion Orange Line has stops at the University of Dallas, the Las Colinas Urban Center and the Irving Convention Center. The arrival of light rail culminates more than 12 years of land-use planning by DART, the city of Irving, the Las Colinas Association and the Dallas County Utilities Reclamation District.
“With the opening of the Orange Line, thousands of people now can reach one of the region’s densest employment centers via public transit,” DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. “That makes it easier for people to not only find jobs, but also pursue careers.”
Airport Connection Ahead
On Dec. 3, DART opens the second phase of the Orange Line to North Lake College and Belt Line Road. At Belt Line Station, buses will meet trains to take passengers to and from DFW International Airport. The DFW Station is scheduled to open in 2014, connecting downtown Dallas to one of the nation’s busiest airports and making DART one of the few transit agencies in the U.S. with direct rail service into a major airport.
“The Orange Line is going to be huge for improving mobility and for getting commuters in and out of Irving and Las Colinas,” said U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. “And when the section into DFW Airport is open, the ability to travel to the Dallas area by transit will be enormous for the economy.”
Federal Funds Seed Economic Recovery
DART’s massive $3.4 billion light rail expansion, which includes the Orange Line, has provided a much-needed stimulus during the economic downturn. The Irving build-out received $61.2 million in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds because of its employment impact and ability to attract additional development, companies, employees and residents to Irving.
True to expectations, the project produced more than 600 jobs at some 80 contractor companies in 14 states. Federal officials have closely monitored the project’s progress and cited DART’s Orange Line as one of the top “Recovery Act Projects Changing America.”
“This kind of investment makes it easier for people to come to Irving — whether it’s for conventions, vacation, business or access to the airport,” said Hutchison.
Construction of the Orange Line adds to the largest electric light rail system in North America. The DART Rail System will reach nearly 90 miles at the completion of the expansion in 2014, creating viable transit access to greater housing, employment, educational, medical and entertainment options throughout the Dallas area.
Irving is the only city in the service area — other than Dallas — to have both light and commuter rail service. The Trinity Railway Express has operated in South Irving since December 1996 along the right of way of the Rock Island Railway, where the city was founded in the early 1900s.
The highly anticipated arrival of DART Rail has spurred construction of luxury apartment communities throughout the Las Colinas Urban Center, with more than 7,000 units existing or planned, and several transit-oriented developments are in the works. To better link major points of interest in Las Colinas, DART also introduced a new weekday circulator bus service that originates at the Urban Center Station and stops at the entrance of Irving Convention Center.