By Jennifer Lindgren


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ADDISON (CBSDFW.COM) – Public transit in North Texas is about to change. DART is moving forward on a plan to add two new rail lines.

Currently, the only DART service in Addison is bus service, residents and workers are excited about the prospect of light rail. There are existing train tracks in Addison, which have been here for decades, but they are not in use right now.

“I’m from Addison. So that definitely would save me time in the morning. I wake up very, very early just to get out here (DART transit Center) and I’d get an extra hour or two of sleep,” says commuter Michelle Rodriguez.

The Cotton Belt corridor would run through Plano, Richardson, Addison and Carrollton, east-west to DFW Airport.

Dart’s board members have approved the financial plan for the project and for the D-2, a second line for downtown Dallas that would run as an underground subway.

The projects will a cost of about $1 billion each and the timeline for completion is within the next 10 years.

Critics are skeptical of the ability to secure funding for both projects at the same time. Councilman Phillip Kingston told the board at Tuesday’s meeting, “if DART uses cash to fast track the Cotton Belt project, it will increase the cost of borrowing and debt and delay the D-2.”

DART believes both projects are doable. “We’ve done all of the modeling. And we’ve done all of the stress testing to see how that can work and even the worst case scenarios, we still have sufficient capacity, we still have really clear board parameters and board policies on our internal/external debt coverages. Those are the things financial markets look at when they set our debt rating,” says Morgan Lyons of DART.

What the board approved Tuesday night is just a roadmap, only about 5% of the design work is complete. The agency also needs to secure federal funding‚ DART says that’s about a year away.

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Jennifer Lindgren