Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas/RAILTRAN Phase II

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Trinity Railway Express RAILTRAN Phase II

Dallas - Dallas, Ft. Worth, Texas Ft. Worth, Texas Final Design

(November 1999)

(click here for map)

Description

Phase II of the Trinity Railway Express (formerly RAILTRAN) project will provide additional commuter rail service on 25 miles of existing track and right-of-way between South Irving and Fort Worth, serving the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center. Phase I initiated ten miles of service between Dallas and Irving in December 1996. Phase II is estimated to carry 10,950 daily riders in the year 2010. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) has estimated total project costs in year of expenditure (YOE) at $160.6 million, with an estimated Section 5309 New Starts share of $62.4 million. Long-term plans call for a Phase III to extend service to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Phase II includes five new passenger stations, track and signal improvements to the existing rail line, construction of 1.5 miles of new main track on a new alignment in downtown Fort Worth, expansion of the existing Irving Yard commuter rail maintenance facility, and purchase of rolling stock. Two stations are located in downtown Fort Worth, including the site of the Intermodal Transportation Center, and three stations are located in the suburbs. In 2010, average weekday boardings are estimated at 11,000, with an estimated 5,000 daily new riders.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Commuter Rail

25 miles, 5 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

Section 5309 Share($YOE):

$160.6 million

$62.4 million

Annual Operating Cost ($YOE):

$9.2 million

Ridership Forecast (2010):

11,000 avg. weekday boardings

5,000 daily new riders

FY 2001 Finance Rating:

FY 2001 Project Justification Rating:

FY 2001 Overall Project Rating:

Medium

Medium

Recommended

The overall project rating of Recommended is based on the adequacy of the projects justification criteria and local financial commitment to the project. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. 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.

Status

In 1984, the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) right-of-way between Dallas and Fort Worth was purchased with FTA assistance. Since then the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads have been operating freight service on the tracks.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) have signed an agreement on the construction, operation, and financing of the TRE service. The outermost segment of Phase II is scheduled to open in September 2000 with service to Richmond Hills; service to downtown Ft. Worth is scheduled to begin in early 2001. FWTA is the lead local agency in the development of Phase II of the Trinity Railway Express. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was most recently amended in December 1998.

Section 3030(21) of TEA-21 authorizes the Dallas-Ft. Worth TRE Phase II Project for final design and construction. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $46.41 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds for this project.

Evaluation

Unless otherwise noted, the following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria.

This project is rated as being in final design. The project will be re-evaluated in next years Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Medium project justification rating is based on the projects cost-effectiveness and the adequacy of its other reported criteria.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Not Rated

FWTA did not provide information on travel time savings in conformance with FTAs Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria.

 

Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

N/A

N/A

There are an estimated 407 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed five stations, roughly 22 percent of total households within a ½ mile of proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Medium

Dallas/Fort Worth is classified as a "serious" non-attainment area for ozone. FWTA estimates that TRE Phase II would result in the following annual emissions reductions.

 

Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

4

4

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

13

13

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

121

115

Particulate Matter (PM10)

3

3

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

852

563

Values reflect annual tons of emissions reductions.

FWTA estimates that TRE Phase II 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 (million)

11,238

7,492

Values reflect annual BTU reductions.

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Not Rated

FWTA did not provide information on operating efficiencies.

 

No-Build

TSM

New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2010)

N/A

N/A

N/A

 

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium-High

FWTA estimates the following cost effectiveness indices.

 

 

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs.

TSM

Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger

$4.60

$ 9.80

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium land use rating reflects moderate development in downtown Fort Worth and CentrePort and enhancement of transit supportive policies within the corridor.

Existing Conditions: The primary population and employment concentrations along the corridor exist in downtown Fort Worth. Downtown Fort Worth contains relatively high densities of office space and the first phases of new housing development. The CentrePort development, in the center of the corridor, and downtown Dallas, at the eastern end of the Phase I line, are the other primary activity centers in the corridor. The lack of restrictions on use and the presence of housing subsidies within the Fort Worth CBD are supportive of a mix of land uses. Density and land use mixing are generally low among the remainder of the corridor.

Future Plans and Policies: Fort Worth is establishing plans to focus development in its downtown, and is also amending its zoning ordinance to support transit-oriented development. Zoning changes have also allowed new housing developments to proceed under construction in downtown Fort Worth. Other provisions would include dense development with a mix of uses clustered around transit stops. The Downtown Fort Worth Strategic Action Plan supports the establishment of a housing community development corporation, the expanded presence of retail activities, and several urban design guidelines and street environment improvement which generally support transit oriented development goals. New redevelopment projects concentrating on the Lancaster Boulevard area and the Intermodal Transportation Center in Downtown Fort Worth indicate more serious attention to more focused efforts to develop in the terminal station area. Employment center designation near the proposed Intermodal Center in the Fort Worth CBD is the strongest means to support high density, mixed use land development patterns in the entire corridor. There are no adopted policies to limit the spatial growth of development or to promote infill development in the municipalities along the commuter rail corridor. Development at the CentrePort business complex incorporates a variety of uses and large campus-style office buildings; housing in the development is complete. Concessions to pedestrian accessibility and amenities are limited.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-New Starts Share of Total Project Costs: 61%

The projects financial plan proposes to utilize $62.4 million (39 percent of total project costs) in Section 5309 New Start funds, $40.4 million (25 percent) in Federal flexible funds, $16.1 million in ISTEA Section 1108 Highway funds (10 percent), $1.1 million in Section 5307 Formula funds, and $41.8 million (26 percent) in State and local funds.

 

 

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium capital finance plan rating reflects the lack of detail regarding FWTAs submitted financial plan and other financial assessment documentation. FWTA is in sound financial condition, as are other project funding sources.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: FWTA faces only modest capital investment commitments beyond Phase II of the Trinity Rail Express project. DART and the RAILTRAN authority are both strong from the viewpoint of meeting their funding commitments to the project. FWTA also has strong surplus balances to cover unexpected cost overruns. No information was submitted outlining FWTAs long-term capital replacement plans.

Capital Costs Estimates and Contingencies: The capital cost estimates are reasonable given the size and scope of the project. Project costs have increased by more than 4.5% over the past year from $153.5 million to $160.6 million, reflecting redesign of the ITC. Although FWTA has strong surplus balances to cover unexpected cost overruns, FWTA did not submit any documentation to demonstrate provision of contingencies for cost overruns.

Existing Funding: All proposed project funding sources exist though all are not committed. FWTA has entered into an Interlocal Agreement between DART, RAILTRAN, Tarrant County and local cities although exact annual funding amounts have not been specified. FWTAs 0.5% local sales tax is the primary revenue source for covering FWTAs annual operating deficit and also serves as a primary source of capital funds. Projected revenue from this source is sufficient to cover FWTAs share of project capital and operating costs without posing significant funding risk to FWTAs ongoing bus operations. FWTA historically has had more than sufficient cash balances to meet any sales tax shortfalls.

New Funding: A private right-of-way donation, representing 0.1% of project costs, is the only new funding source proposed for the project.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium operating finance plan rating reflects insufficient detail with which to evaluate the appropriateness of project operating and maintenance cost estimates.

Agency Operating Financial Condition: No recent financial records were provided by which to evaluate FWTAs operating financial performance. However, NTD data suggest a flat farebox recovery ratio of approximately 17% for FWTA bus services and zero annual operating balances. DART and RAILTRAN are both considered strong in meeting their funding commitments to the project. Operations of the completed commuter rail line have been contracted out to a private operator.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: FWTA projects annual operating costs of $9.2 million beginning in FY 2000, which are considered reasonable given the system size and type of service (i.e., commuter rail). However, the documentation submitted provides little detail with which to evaluate the appropriateness of project operating and maintenance cost estimates. A significant surplus balance is included in the cash flow submission, providing more than sufficient reserves to cover any realistic cost overrun situation.

Existing Funding: Assuming periodic fare increases, the projected annual growth rate of passenger fares is not unreasonable. FWTAs financial plan anticipates a 43.5% farebox recovery ratio for the TRE initial operations (FY 2001). While not unreasonable for a mature commuter rail system, this level is optimistic for initial operations. The operating subsidy will be funded entirely from FWTAs dedicated sales tax, which provides sufficient capacity and reliability in meeting both the operating and capital needs of the project.

New Funding: No new funding sources are proposed for the project.

 

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

 

Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)

 

Appropriations to Date

Federal:    
Section 5309 New Starts

$ 62.4

($46.41 million appropriated through FY 2000)
  Section 5307 Formula

1.1

 
  Flexible Funds (CMAQ & STP)

40.4

 
  ISTEA Section 1108 Highway

Funds (ITC)

16.1

 
       
Local:    
  FWTA

21.3

 
  DART

8.1

 
  Tarrant County & Cities

6.5

 
  Railtran

4.6

 
       
Other:    
  Private - ROW

0.1

 
 

TOTAL

160.6

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

Trinity Railway Express Phase 2 (map)