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Fort Worth Mayor Says Commuter Rail Progress “Unacceptable”

By Joel Thomas & Deborah Gaines, CBS 11 News
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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Frustrated by delays and watching progress in other communities in North Texas, Mayor Betsy Price told the administrators of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, The T, it was time to put a regional rail system on the fast track.

“Deadlines have continued to be pushed further and further,” Price told The T board at its working retreat in downtown Fort Worth Thursday. “Truth be told, I’m simply not satisfied with the progress and I don’t believe the council is either.”

A city spokesman said projects like a rail line from Southwest Fort Worth to DFW airport are up to three years behind original schedule.

The mayor told The T Board the western side of the Metroplex is seen as the reason there isn’t regional rail service between the Fort Worth, DFW Airport and Dallas.  Comparing transportation services to Dallas, the mayor said Fort Worth spends half as much as DART.

“But the question is, if we put half as much money into the system as Dallas, shouldn’t we have had half as much rail?” Price asked.  “We should.”

Board members said negotiating deals with railroad companies, applying for federal dollars and engineering and design work have slowed projects down.

One board member reminded the mayor during a question and answer session The T has had projects like streetcars ready to go. But the city council voted not to fund the project.

“It was really a let down to know we’d done all that work for so many years and then the council said ‘no’,” Board Member Janet Saltsgiver said.

Mayor Price replied this is a new administration with a new approach to commuter rail.  And she said new leadership in other cities are anxious to connect the region by rail, too.

“We don’t want to have analysis paralysis,” Price said. “We want to learn from what we’ve done, quit analyzing it and move forward.”

The T’s chairman says he’s glad to see renewed emphasis on rail projects.

“I think its stimulating to hear that from the leader of your city, someone who’s been elected recently,” said The T Chairman Gary Cumbie.  “And it brings a level of energy and enthusiasm to the issue.”

Cumbie said he would continue to search for ways to speed up regional rail programs.

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