Sheard worries that the parking problem will become insurmountable next year because of two upcoming changes at T&P Station, an historic train stop that dates to 1931 and was named after the old Texas & Pacific Railway. The T&P Station features hundreds of free parking spaces for TRE riders, including many spaces underneath Interstate 30, and on a typical weekday nearly all of those spaces are taken by 10 a.m.
The first change that concerns Sheard is coming Jan. 5. That is when a second commuter rail line, TEXRail, is scheduled to start daily service from Fort Worth to Grapevine and DFW Airport. T&P Station will be the westernmost stop for TEXRail, as it already is for TRE.
Traffic at T&P Station will more than double with the arrival of TEXRail, according to officials at Trinity Metro.
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The second change is coming in April, when construction is scheduled to start on a 10-story residential and retail complex known as Katy Station Lofts at 211 W. Lancaster Ave., adjacent to T&P Station. The lofts will include a garage with free parking spaces for transit riders, but during nearly two years of construction there could be parking headaches for those trying to park their cars and get to the trains.
“It is public transportation that a lot of people depend on to get to work,” Sheard said in an email. “A lot of veterans ride to go to the Dallas Veterans Hospital, the State Fair, conventions, etc. Taking away that parking at the T&P just does not seem logical to me.”
Officials at Trinity Metro, formerly known as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (or the T), acknowledge that the construction of the Katy Station Lofts apartments will temporarily eliminate parking spaces and could cause train customers parking headaches. But they say that in the long run the loft project actually will add more parking spots for transit users than is now available.
And they say they are taking steps to ensure that there’s plenty of temporary parking available at T&P Station during Katy Station Lofts construction.
Trinity Metro has 386 parking spaces available at the T&P Station. That will increase to 541 once the Katy Station Lofts are built, according to Linda Thornton, Trinity Metro vice president of marketing and communications.
Although parking can be a modern mess at T&P Station, the structure itself can be a nostalgic throwback.
Visitors who park in the free spaces under Interstate 30 can get to the station by walking through a tunnel underneath the railroad tracks. The tunnel is lined with subway-tiled columns, with stairs leading to the train tracks on either side. Those who continue walking through the tunnel will eventually find themselves entering an enormous concourse featuring Zigzag Moderne Art Deco stlyings. It’s an area with an eatery known as T&P Tavern, and it’s often rented for weddings.
So how many people ride the trains from T&P Station?
An average of 960 riders board TRE at T&P each weekday — and that number is scheduled to more than double to 1,920 riders once TEXRail had been in service for a year.
But Thornton also pointed out that not all commuter rail riders drive to the station. Many take buses, bicycles or walk — or get a ride from a relative, friend or acquaintance. She said signs will be installed to help motorists find parking at T&P Station and other TEXRail stops.
Construction on Katy Station Lofts will begin April 2019 and is estimated to last for 22 months. The project is being built in a partnership with Fort Worth Housing Solutions, which aims to find affordable housing for lower-income residents, and other partners.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions will provide transit customers temporary parking near T&P Station to make up for the permanent parking spaces lost to construction, she said.
The lofts project will include a parking garage with 708 parking spaces. Of those, 345 spaces will be available for Trinity Metro riders, she said. Other parking will be reserved for lofts residents as well as customers of the retail outlets that are scheduled to be part of the lofts project.
Also, Trinity Metro plans to hire a parking consultant to provide advice on parking issues related to T&P Station, Thornton said.