Bill allows Grapevine to join Fort Worth Transportation Authority

Posted Thursday, May. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The state Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday to allow Grapevine, which is participating in the TEX Rail commuter project, to have representation on the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s board.

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, sponsored the bill which allows representation for entities that pay a sales tax for transportation service but are not members of the authority.

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth and Giovanni Capriglione R-Southlake, sponsored similar legislation in the House. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature or veto.

Previously, only representatives from cities that dedicated at least a half-cent in sales tax revenue to the agency, commonly known as the T, were allowed to serve on the board.

Currently, eight of the nine board members are appointed by the Fort Worth City Council and the ninth - often a Richland Hills resident - is appointed by Tarrant County Commissioners court.

This legislation would allow a representative to be appointed by the commissioners court if the person lives in a city that contracts with the T to fund a transportation project and has committed to provide sales tax revenue, but not necessarily the full half-cent that previously was required.

Grapevine is contributing $50 million to the TEX Rail project with a 3/8-cent sales tax that voters approved six years ago.

“As The T begins planning to add Grapevine in their service area, it is important there is local representation on the board,” Nelson said in a prepared statement.

Joan Hunter, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority, said: “The T will continue to work with whoever is appointed to The T’s Board of Directors, just as we have in the past.”

Grapevine officials have been critical of the TEX Rail project, saying that T officials haven’t been forthcoming with information about funding the rail line.

The Tex Rail project is a 37-mile commuter rail line that would stretch from southwest Fort Worth to the north end of DFW Airport. A second phase of the project - the Cotton Belt Initiative - would extend the rail service another 25 miles to Plano or Wylie.

The T is applying for federal funding to cover half of the estimated $960 million cost.

“I think it is fair we are one of the major players in this effort to have light rail to come out to northeast Tarrant,” said Grapevine Councilwoman Sharron Spencer. “We have a substantial monetary interest in it and it is reasonable for us to have a seat on the board.”

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz

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