In a Jan. 28 commentary (“TEX Rail is moving full-speed ahead, but should it be stopped?”), state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyille, criticized the TEX Rail commuter rail project scheduled to open in 2018 between downtown Fort Worth and DFW Airport.
Our Dallas neighbors opened its DART rail service to DFW last year, serving Dallas County residents and the 60,000 employees at DFW.
Since DART opened rail service in 1996, it has been an economic development tour de force in Dallas County.
DART’s capital spending since 2003 produced total regional economic activity approaching $8.8 billion, boosting labor income by $3.9 billion and supporting an average 4,250 jobs, according to a recent UNT Center for Economic Development and Research study.
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In fact, the Conservative Center for Public Transportation says Texans should get on the trains, as they spur development, get people to work and save time.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority recently unveiled its Transit Master Plan for future service in Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
The timing could not have been better. Investing in a quality rail system in Tarrant County is about investing in our future and insuring our place as a great city and county for all income groups.
Transportation infrastructure ranks second among the most important business location criteria, according to Site Selection magazine’s survey of corporate real estate executives.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has reaped the benefits of transit in Dallas County, with Fortune 500 companies choosing to relocate there because of the proximity to rail, bringing thousands of jobs with them.
Companies such as State Farm, Liberty Mutual and Morgan Stanley have chosen to relocate along the DART lines because their employees demand transportation options.
Millennials now choose the cities where they want to live before they search for a job.
What better way is there to meet the needs of large companies and young riders than to provide expanded rail service?
Tarrant County residents will soon have the opportunity and the privilege of riding on a first-class commuter rail line from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport.
The TEX Rail line will carry over 9,000 daily riders for a 2018 opening day, and that number will grow exponentially as our traffic congestion worsens. This translates to 198,300 fewer vehicle miles traveled each day.
Tarrant County voters approved funds for TEX Rail in May 2006, and Grapevine, an integral partner in TEX Rail, passed a sales tax initiative for TEX Rail in November 2006.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority held many public meetings, gave presentations at civic gatherings, produced newsletters and maintained a website to brief the public on the project and its costs.
Providing transportation options is not the same as “social re-engineering” the urban landscape, as Burton suggested.
It’s about getting people safely to work, school, doctors, parks, church and community events. And, it’s about choice.
We applaud the leadership of our communities who recognized the importance of this visionary project. Get on board.
Kathy Ingle is the chairman and Jeff Davis the vice chairman of the Transit Coalition of North Texas.