DART Rail expansion arriving with billions on board
The 45-mile Green, Orange and Blue Line DART Rail expansion is projected to generate more than $4 billion in economic activity between 2009 and 2014, according to a new study by economists at the University of North Texas. Including prior Green Line expenditures, the total economic activity is more than $5.6 billion.
The study, conducted for DART by Drs. Terry Clower and Bernard Weinstein of the UNT Center for Economic Development and Research, also determined the expansion will create 32,095 job-years of employment [or – an average of 6,400 jobs each year for the next five years]. Separately, ongoing operations of the multimodal transit agency will generate $663 million in annual economic activity and more than 5,300 jobs.
“Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s light rail operations continue to be one of the best examples of the growing importance of transit, in all modes, to sustainable economic and community development,” the researchers said.
DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said the study “is the latest evidence transit can help sustain and strengthen communities, particularly during tough economic times.” Thomas said this was particularly evident in the number of small and emerging minority and women-owned businesses who are part of DART’s expansion and ongoing operation. On the Green Line alone, more than $360 million in contract awards will be invested in these firms.
The economists added, “Importantly, DART’s construction activities have continued even with the downturn in the local economy, increasing the relative importance of the jobs associated with this construction. Of course, these impacts pale in comparison to the value of property development that has occurred around or near DART transit rail stations as described in previous analyses.”
Studies by Weinstein and Clower and additional reports by local officials have identified more than $8 billion in transit-oriented development projects that have opened, are under construction or are planned along DART Rail corridors.
DART Rail doubling, new section opens in September
DART Rail will double in stages to 90 miles by 2013. The heart of the project is the 20 station Green Line, the longest light rail project under construction in North America. The first section of the Green Line, scheduled to open September 14, is three-miles long and connects Pearl Station on the east side of Downtown Dallas to Deep Ellum Station, Baylor University Medical Center Station, Fair Park Station and the MLK Station, adjacent to the J. B. Jackson, Jr. Transit Center on the west side of Fair Park. Daily service to Victory Station at the American Airlines Center will also begin September 14.
The remaining 25 miles of the Green Line, scheduled to open in December 2010, will extend southeast from Downtown Dallas to Pleasant Grove and northwest from Victory Station to the Dallas Market Center, the Southwestern Medical District, Love Field Airport and downtown Farmers Branch and Carrollton.
Construction is also underway on the first nine miles of a new Orange Line that will branch from the Green Line in northwest Dallas to serve the city of Irving in 2011. The line will be extended to DFW International Airport by 2013. DART also is building a five-mile extension of the Blue Line from Garland to Rowlett that will open in 2012.
Altogether, the Green, Orange and Blue line projects are expected to add 60,000 weekday passenger trips, nearly doubling ridership on the DART Rail System.