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Dallas, Texas/North Central Corridor

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North Central Corridor

Dallas, Texas

(November 1998)


Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) plans to build a North Central Corridor light rail transit (LRT) extension beyond the existing Park Lane Station. DARTís starter system opened in three phases from June 1996 to May 1997. The proposed extension from the current northern terminus at Park Lane Station is 12.5 miles long, nine stations are planned, terminating in Plano. Original plans proposed that the southern 7.5 miles of the corridor from Park Lane to Richardson Transit Center would be double tracked and the northern 5.0 miles from Richardson to Parker Road in Plano would be single tracked. However, in 1997 the DART Board of Directors approved the double tracking of the entire extension. DART estimates that over 17,000 daily riders will use this extension in the year 2010. The project is estimated to cost $517.2 million (escalated dollars).

North Central Corridor Summary Description

Proposed Project Light rail extension
12.5 miles, 9 stations (1 additional future station)
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $517.20 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $333.00 million
Annual Operating Cost ($1994) $9.80 million
Ridership Forecast (2010) 17,000 daily boardings
6,800 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: High
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Medium
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Recommended

The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


DART is concluding the Final Design phase of project development for the North Central Corridor. The project is included in the regionally adopted Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program that are in conformance with the State Implementation Plan for Air Quality. TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(20) authorizes the North Central Extension for final design and construction. Through FY 1999 Congress has appropriated $43.2 million in Section 5309 New Start funds to this project.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria.


Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium-High

The LRT extension is estimated to produce 6,800 more daily transit trips than the TSM alternative and would result in the following annual travel time savings.:

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No- Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) 18.30 million hours 41.90 million hours

There are an estimated 1,525 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed nine stations, approximately 13 percent of total households within a ½ mile radius of proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

Dallas/Fort Worth is classified as a "serious" non-attainment area for ozone. This is a recent increase from a moderate classification. DART estimates that the extension would result in the following annual emissions reductions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 240 annual tons decrease of 255 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 54 annual tons decrease of 71 annual tons
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) decrease of 28 annual tons decrease of 24 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) decrease of 5 annual tons decrease of 5 annual tons
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) decrease of 18,068 annual tons decrease of 22,162 annual tons

DART estimates that in 2010, the LRT extension would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units - BTU):

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) decrease of 122,760 million annual BTU decrease of 203,870 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

DART estimates a slight decrease in the systemwide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2010 as compared to the TSM alternative.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (YOE) $0.41 $0.42 $0.41

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1994 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Low-Medium

DART estimates the following cost effectiveness indices:

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $16.90 $13.50

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1994 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The proposed projectís Medium land use rating primarily reflects the emerging local jurisdictional commitment to integrating future development with the proposed light rail extension while also taking into account the lack of adopted growth control measures in the Dallas region. The North Central corridor contains a mix of land uses. The predominant uses are commercial and single family housing, with some industrial, public/institutional, and medium- to high-density residential and office development. Several station areas contain large undeveloped parcels. Six prominent employment centers are located within one-half mile of the corridor. Planning is underway for several high-density developments in the corridor. Given the success of DART's starter LRT system, local municipalities are emphasizing transit supportive land use policies and have initiated station area planning studies intended to encourage mixed use development in the corridor. DART has implemented a Joint Development Program. Developer interest in sites around the existing DART LRT and in transit supportive development is strong. DART, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, held several economic development summits addressing transit supportive development. The City of Richardson, the City of Plano, and the City of Dallas have increased station area development and are working on land use plans and policies at the local jurisdictional level.

The City of Dallas has a Growth Policy Plan that provides a framework for future growth development in the city. The Plan calls for the preparation of station area design and development plans with the participation of businesses, property owners, and neighborhood groups, and includes the consideration of density bonuses and other actions necessary to support this goal. However, no formal growth management policies are enacted or proposed in the Dallas region. DART currently has a zero parking policy at 3 of the proposed 9 stations requiring those stations to not have high volume long-term parking.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 36 %

DART is proposing $333 million (64 percent) in Federal New Start funding and $184 million (36 percent) in local funding for this project (all dollars escalated).

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: High

The projectís High capital finance rating reflects DARTís dedicated revenue stream, total commitment of local funds needed for the project, and the agencyís overall financial capacity. The local financial commitment to the project is proposed to be funded through the 1 percent local sales tax dedicated to DART. The North Central LRT is part of a 20-year, $4.8 billion transit capital program adopted in FY 1998. A Northeast LRT Extension is being built solely with local funds ($475 million). DART plans to seek $1.44 billion in Federal funds for the total LRT expansion program. Sales tax revenue forecasts have recently been updated based on the latest revenue yield rates and personal income/retail sales trends, and provide a conservative future revenue outlook. Even with more conservative estimates, DARTís financial capacity to cover the North Central Extension is solid. The FY 1999 Finance Plan includes $295 million in debt financing which is well within the short-term debt capacity for DART.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: High

The High rating of the operating financial plan is due primarily to the projectís secure operating revenue stream. Local operations are funded from the 1 percent sales tax, which provides adequate resources to run and maintain the system. North Central LRT operating cost estimates have recently been increased to better account for actual operating experiences from the DART LRT starter system. DART has maintained a cash reserve plus a working capital requirement throughout the 20-year financial planning period. In addition, the cash account reflects a positive cash flow of over $2.0 billion at the end of the 20-year plan period.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Starts $333.00 $43.20 million appropriated through FY 1999
Local: $184.20 N/A
Total: $517.20

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

[North Central Corridor Map (PDF)]

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