The Fort Worth Transportation Authority received their Christmas gift today from the Federal Transit Administration in a ceremony held at the T's downtown offices. FTA Administrator Carolyn Flowers was on hand to announce that the balance of funding for TEXRail the 27 mile long commuter rail is now complete. $449 million in federal transportation funds will ensure that the rail line can be built and operating by the end of 2018. Fort Worth T President/CEO Paul Ballard said that the next time all the officials present will be meeting will be for the ribbon cutting on the tracks come New Year's Eve 2018.
Administrator Flowers told the audience that "fortunately this community has leaders of vision, ones that are willing to face the challenge and prepare for tomorrow." Flowers pointed to "Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Grapevine Mayor William Tate and North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino and voters who decided to invest their tax dollars into public transportation." She said that "those who lack the vision today will want to know when they will get a station in the future. We've seen it time and time again."
Flowers indicated that TEXRail will help grow the economy, help with traffic congestion and preserve the quality of life. "It will connect three of the major job and residential areas. In Fort Worth it will connect to the T buses, the TRE and Amtrak and at the other end of the line at DFW Airport you will be able to connect to DART. That makes TEXRail part of an integrated regional system that offers a wide range of choices for getting where ever you need to go".
Ground had already been broken for the rail line and construction has been underway, but the final piece from the FTA guarantees that the project now has 100% funding. Speaking before an overflow room of officials and advocates Ballard said that the first shell of the passenger rail cars will be arriving in the port of Houston in five days. All rail cars will be shipped to Utah for assembly.
Ballard said that TEXRail will help to alleviate congestion on roads in the region. Fort Worth Mayor Price, one of the speakers at the TEXRail presentation echoed Ballard's remarks. “You simply can't pour enough concrete to accommodate the growth here.”
The line that TEXRail will operate on was scheduled for abandonment in the 80's by railroads that owned the right of way but was saved for future transportation use by Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Ballard acknowledged the perseverance and patience of all the parties involved over the years that culminated with today's funding agreement from the FTA.
Transit oriented development is already in progress around rail stations that are being built. Two miles of new tracks leading into terminal B at DFW International Airport will be built in early 2017 while the airport finishes the design and construction of the rail stop.