Fort Worth council says it will consider regional rail line if it doesn't conflict with Tarrant line

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A month after rejecting development of the Cotton Belt commuter rail line, the Fort Worth City Council said Tuesday that it's willing to "consider" the 62-mile project - so long as it doesn't steal federal money it wants to be spent for a rail line ending at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

The council Tuesday night voted 8-0 for a resolution that said it wants the Cotton Belt project to be developed separately from the TEX Rail project, the 37-mile line it hopes to open in 2016 from southwest Fort Worth to Grapevine and the airport.

Councilman Sal Espino was absent.

The compromise resolution was reached last week by Councilman Jungus Jordan, Mayor Betsy Price and officials from the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Fort Worth's support is considered crucial because Cotton Belt supporters are in Austin trying to get the Legislature's permission to create a special tax district covering the 13 cities and three counties that would be connected by the project.

Price said she doesn't want the Cotton Belt project to cause further delays on the TEX Rail plan.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority is applying for a federal new starts grant to cover up to half the nearly $1 billion estimated cost.

If TEX Rail is awarded federal money, Price and other Fort Worth officials say they don't want any of the funds transferred to other portions of the Cotton Belt project in the Dallas area.

The resolution the council approved Tuesday called for the Cotton Belt to be developed in two separate agreements, one for the TEX Rail portion west of DFW Airport, and the other for the cities east of the airport.

An unidentified developer has told the council of governments that it will make a proposal to develop the Cotton Belt line.

The details haven't been released, but generally the idea is that the developer would arrange financing and would be repaid over many years by increased property values and transit-oriented development along the corridor.

Jordan said the council is asking "to be taken out of the pending legislation until we have seen the specifics of the proposal."

Supporters of the Cotton Belt project say it's important for other cities in the region to be connected to DFW, including Coppell, Carrollton, Richardson and Plano, even though Dallas Area Rapid Transit isn't expected to have funds for such expansion for at least 20 years.

Scott Nishimura,

(817) 390-7808

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

Gordon Dickson,

(817) 390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson

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