DART’s refinancing of Silver Line RRIF loan estimated to save $190 million

Feb. 26, 2021
The $908-million loan was originally awarded in 2018 and the refinancing takes advantage of low interest rates that will help counter pandemic-related revenue losses.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has refinanced its $908-million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Build America Bureau. DART is expected to save an estimated $190 million on interest costs with the refinance, which comes at a good time as transit systems contend with pandemic-induced financial stress from a lack of revenues.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing in clean transportation while improving access to good-paying jobs, and this loan is the latest example of that,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “There’s no question that transit access to the rapidly growing Dallas suburbs needs to be expanded, and ensuring the new stations are accessible by walking, biking and wheelchairs will provide more options for residents and make it easier for people to choose more affordable and sustainable ways to get around. It is prudent to take advantage of historically low interest rates to help DART refinance this loan at a time when they, like many transit agencies around the country, continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.”

The RRIF loan was originally secured for the 26-mile passenger rail project in December 2018 and the loan proceeds will finance part of the costs of the $1.2-billion project. The Silver Line is being built from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport eastward to the Plano/Richardson area, covering three counties and seven cities. The project is being constructed primarily within the existing DART-owned railroad right-of-way.

DART awarded a $783-million design-build contract to Archer Western Herzog JV for the project, which includes upgrading the existing track to meet passenger rail standards, converting the single-track configuration to double-track, building 10 new stations and acquiring eight vehicles, which will be supplied and maintained by Stadler.

Construction on the project began September 2019 and on Feb. 25, DART started the initial bridge construction of the line’s Josey Lane Bridge in Carrollton.

“The department’s assistance helps DART deliver this ambitious project which will extend service across the DART service area from the eastern edge across the northern suburbs and includes several infrastructure additions such as hike and bike trails, separated grade improvements and full double-tracking across the entire segment,” said DART Interim President and CEO David Leininger. “The 10 platforms will also stimulate transit-oriented development across a broad swath of the region. Reducing interest costs on the loan will also play a crucial part in restoring DART’s long-term capital development capacity, which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silver Line is expected to open for revenue service by March 2023.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.