In 2009, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that there were almost 3.5 million registered vehicles in the Dallas district alone, which covers seven surrounding counties. Today, local communities are taking part in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s initiatives to offer public transportation, and now, DART is pulling into the North Dallas Corridor to extend its services to Addison and other nearby neighborhoods.
Twenty-four of the 28-mile DART Green Line is slated to open Dec. 6. The four-year project will connect Dallas from the southeast to the northwest, running parallel to the Interstate 35 corridor. The $1.8 billion Green Line will take residents and visitors from Pleasant Grove through South Dallas, Fair Park, Deep Ellum, downtown Dallas, Market Center and Love Field on its way to Farmers Branch and Carrollton – just a short ride away from the heart of the North Dallas Corridor.
The Green Line is exciting news and is a big step toward even more progress as future DART developments are still in the works.
“DART is extremely important to our future mobility and quality of life through its ultimate plan for the Cotton Belt connection to the east, Red Line, and the west, Green Line,” said Nancy Cline, director of public works for the town of Addison.
Addison’s nearest Green Line station will be the downtown Carrollton stop.
However, the Green Line will precede the 63-mile Cotton Belt Railroad Line, which will run from Wylie to southwest Fort Worth, passing directly behind the Addison Transit Center on Arapaho Road between Quorum Drive and Addison Road. The transit center includes bus routes that converge in Addison to allow transfers and destination to and from other routes throughout the Dallas area, Cline said.
While the opening of the Green Line is certainly good news, the North Dallas Corridor will perhaps benefit most from the eventual opening of the Cotton Belt.
THE COTTON BELT
Plans for the Cotton Belt include an enhanced rail station at the site of the existing transit station, Cline said, and future plans anticipate the expanded development of “transit oriented development” style construction in keeping with the adjacent Addison Circle Development model.
“Addison Circle exemplifies the type of development that is sought after in rail station areas,” she said. “Its high density residential lifestyle with urban parks throughout provides a successful place to live, work and play.”
Although the Cotton Belt was originally slated for completion in 2030, DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said, DART has been working to accelerate construction.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments is currently looking into funding the project, which would connect the North Dallas Corridor to surrounding cities and the DFW International Airport, Lyons said.
“The Cotton Belt is something that we’re really interested in,” he said, “We just don’t have the funding.”
But when the Cotton Belt is finished, both rail lines will have a deep impact on the community. The Cotton Belt will allow commuters and passers-by to use Addison as more of a destination, and funnel restaurant and hotel traffic into the town, Cline said. The line will help travelers who are flying into DFW International Airport find hotels along the line in Addison, she said.
“The Cotton Belt will give that loop mobility in addition to the radius points that come out of downtown with the Green and the Red,” she said. “We think having a station in Addison with the development that we have will make us even more desirable.”
Cline said the town has some land reserved for the future development of the rail line and, consequently, she thinks the lines will create additional development in the Addison Circle area. She said area businesses will benefit from the DART system in and around Addison, including the arts, which are important to the town.
Greg Patterson, director of development and marketing for WaterTower Theatre, said the opening of the Green Line and future development of the Cotton Belt will provide added access for theater-goers who either lack personal transportation or wish to take advantage of the upcoming rail system.
Also, Patterson said, he hopes the rail system will attract a younger audience.
“I think it’s a much needed thing for people to be able to travel and not have to bring their cars, so I’m sure it will provide great benefits when it happens,” he said. “And it’ll probably allow access for people who have not been here before. It will certainly be welcomed by us.”
Patterson said that, although the theater does not currently have a marketing plan in place to handle the added DART traffic, once the Green Line and the Cotton Belt are completed the theater will work to market the town of Addison as well as WaterTower Theatre to its potential new audience.
And Addison-area restaurants have some high hopes as well.
Buttons Restaurant, the newbie among the town’s illustrious restaurant row on Addison Road, is still in its honeymoon time right now, but the promise of public transportation is exciting to the local chain, said Darren Harris, director of operations for Buttons.
“Anything that makes it easy for potential guests who use public transportation is definitely beneficial for any restaurant,” said Harris, who used to live in D.C., a city that depends on such a system. “Anything that would help bring more traffic to the area would be helpful, especially to Addison, since there aren’t really any residential neighborhoods; it’s all business-driven. Anything that will keep people around longer.”
In addition to connecting people to restaurants, entertainment and cultural destinations, the Green Line will make healthcare more accessible, allowing area residents to follow up with doctors at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital as well as outpatient clinics along the corridor.
BOOSTING THE ECONOMY
Residents along the southeast corridor will also have jobs opportunities they didn’t have before with easier access to Baylor Medical Center, Victory Station and downtown Dallas through the Green Line, Lyons said.
Lyons said the rail system attracts hospitals and helps them compete with other hospitals in the area, increases property values, which are typically higher along the rail corridors, and gets people out into the community so they can pour back into their economy.
“A big construction project like this creates a lot of opportunities,” he said. “You see a lot of businesses that want to get in and work us … and they get the opportunity to grow.”
It also benefits DART.
Lyons said 75 percent of DART’s revenue comes from sales tax. Cities that are part of the rail system each set aside 1 cent per dollar of their sales tax revenue for DART, he said.
Cline said it’s a win-win.
“If you look at the other areas where DART has built rail stations, they’ve all had increased property values due to the increased development, due to higher density development and more of a multi-use live-work-play atmosphere,” she said. “It benefits DART to have us have a high density and it benefits us to have them there for our development.”
Residential properties near light rail stations have increased 39 percent on average more than comparable properties that are not served by the rail lines, and office building near DART have increased in value 53 percent more than those properties not near the lines, according to publictransportation.org.
But it’s not the No. 1 focus of the town’s transportation initiatives.
“We really are trying to provide that connectivity,” Cline said.
TYING IN TRAILS
The town of Addison is also working on a trail system to connect the residential area on the southwest part of town to the DART rail, which will allow residents to run or ride a bike to the rail station, Cline said.
About 95 percent of the trail system is scheduled to be completed by August 2011, Cline said, with the exception of a two-block section from Beltway Drive to Arapaho Road. Until that section is finished, residents will be able to utilize the sidewalks along that portion, she said.
In addition, the town is working with other cities to connect its trail to the Northaven Trail and the future Cotton Belt Trail, running along the Cotton Belt Rail Corridor.
“This will be a north-south connection between those two east-west corridor trails,” Cline said. “In general, we just think having trails connect to the rail stations will help provide access. And they’ll connect to the Addison Cotton Belt station.”
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit serves more than 222,000 passengers across its 700-square miles service area around Dallas and 12 surrounding cities with the DART Rail, Trinity Railway Express and a bus services, according to DART’s website.
The 39 rail stations and 15 bus transit centers serve residents and visitors throughout Dallas. To view a map of DART’s complete coverage area, visit dart.org/maps/printrailmap.asp. To contact DART, call 214-979-1111 or visit dart.org.
DART FARES One-way fares: $1.75 (Local bus and rail services)
System service fares: $3.50 (Express bus service between downtown Dallas and free Park & Ride facilities in Addison, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Glenn Heights, Irving, Plano and Rowlett)
Regional service fares: $5 (All DART and The T buses, DART Rail and all TRE trains)
For a complete list of DART and TRE fares, visit dart.org/fares/fares.asp.
-By Lindsey Brever