The T’s Board of Directors is scheduled to take action at its Aug. 12 meeting to designate the first phase of the multi-phased TEX Rail commuter rail project. If approved, this action would enable the TEX Rail project to get to DFW Airport as soon as possible, while maintaining The T’s ability to get federal New Starts funding of $380 million.
“We are excited to officially designate the first phase in our commuter rail project,” stated T Board Chair Scott Mahaffey. “It has become apparent that a phasing of the project will permit The T to begin this initial segment as soon as possible.”
The proposed action by The T’s Board of Directors will designate the minimal operable segment (MOS) of the TEX Rail project (which was originally identified as a part of the draft environmental impact study in 2008) as the locally preferred alternative. The MOS is the phase of the project that runs from the T&P Station in downtown Fort Worth across northeast Tarrant County to Grapevine and into DFW Airport. The T will continue the efforts in the next phase to extend TEX Rail to a proposed Summer Creek Rail Station in Southwest Fort Worth.
The T is on target to receive a record of decision (ROD) on the TEX Rail project in early 2014. Designating the MOS would adhere to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements to ensure that TEX Rail stays in the running for the significant federal dollars available after the ROD is secured.
“The FTA has emphasized that New Starts grant funds are limited, and we are responding to those constraints by beginning with the segment identified in our project all along as our first phase” said The T President Dick Ruddell.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who has continued to push for comprehensive commuter rail service emphasized the importance of following the FTA’s guidance in order to keep the local grant request in good standing.
“We put The T Board in place to advance this project despite the obstacles that may stand in their way. Moving forward with the MOS is doing just that,” said Price. “While the funding for TEX Rail continues to be a moving target, we simply have to start somewhere. Connecting downtown to DFW Airport has been and will continue to be our top priority. After the successful implementation of this first phase, I’m confident that future phases to extend the service will follow.”
As road congestion continues to worsen, especially in northeast Tarrant County, The T is working hard to find innovative solutions to build convenient commuter rail service in this portion of the county. Local community stakeholders have been briefed on this phased in approach, and stand united behind the decision to move forward with phase one, according to Mahaffey.