Dallas/Northwest-Southeast Light Rail MOS B-7

Printer Friendly Version

Northwest/Southeast Light Rail MOS

Dallas, Texas

(August 2001)


The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) proposes to construct a minimum operable segment (MOS) of the light rail transit (LRT) extensions along the combined Northwest and Southeast corridors, known as the Northwest/Southeast Light Rail MOS (NW/SE LRT MOS). The northwest component of the NW/SE LRT MOS is a truncated version of DARTís Northwest Corridor LRT line; the southeast component of the project is the entire Southeast Corridor LRT line. The NW/SE LRT MOS represents the most cost-effective blending of the two LRT corridors into a single project. DART intends to construct the northernmost segment of the Northwest Corridor LRT, from Farmers Branch to Carrollton, with local funds.

The NW/SE LRT MOS is a new 22-mile LRT line linked by DARTís existing CBD Transitway Mall. The Northwest component of the project extends southward from the City of Farmers Branch, through Northwest Dallas to the Dallas central business district (CBD), with an alignment generally following the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Harry Hines Boulevard rights-of-way until joining the CBD Transitway Mall. The NW/SE LRT MOS shares four stations with the existing CBD Transitway Mall. The Southeast component of the project is located entirely within the City of Dallas, and extends from the CBD Transitway Mall to Buckner Boulevard generally aligned along the median of the Good-Latimer Expressway and the UPRR and Southern Pacific Railroad rights-of-way.

The northwest component will link a large sector of DARTís service area to the LRT system, whereas the southeast component will connect downtown Dallas with several southern communities, including Deep Ellum, Baylor Hospital Center, South Dallas, Fair Park, Buckner Terrace and Pleasant Grove. Sixteen new stations are proposed, with most serving as intermodal facilities and providing park-and-ride facilities. The capital cost estimate for the NW/SE LRT MOS is $894 million (current dollars) and $1.1 billion (escalated dollars). Ridership is forecast at nearly 41,600 average weekday boardings in 2025, and approximately 9,500 daily new riders.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Light rail line extension;
22 miles, 16 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

$ 1,123.61 million

Section 5309 New Starts Share ($YOE):

$ 500 million

Annual Operating Cost ($YOE):

$ 36.8 million

Ridership Forecast (2025):

41,600 avg. weekday boardings
9,500 daily new riders

FY 2002 Finance Rating:


FY 2002 Project Justification Rating:


FY 2002 Overall Project Rating:


The Recommended rating is based on the adequacy of the projectís transit-supportive land use as well as the strength of the projectís capital and operating financing plans. The overall project rating applies to this Supplemental Report on New Starts and reflects conditions as of August 2001. 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.


The DART Board approved locally preferred investment strategies (LPIS) for both the Northwest and Southeast corridors in Spring 2000. The LPIS decisions were based on a MIS and a comprehensive public and agency involvement program for each corridor to determine the best mix of transportation modes and services to meet increasing travel demand in the study areas. The Regional Transportation Council, the MPO for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, endorsed the LPIS and adopted it into the long-range plan in January 2000. In July 2001, FTA approved this project into preliminary engineering. DART is currently preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for each of the two corridors. DART has combined the two extensions into a single MOS for consideration as the federal new starts project. DART intends to locally fund the segment of the Northwest Corridor between Farmers Branch and Carrollton.

The "Dallas Ė DART LRT Extensions" are authorized by Section 3030(b)(15) of TEA-21. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $1 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds to the project.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTAís Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. Criteria have been reported and evaluated on the NW/SE LRT MOS and a New Starts baseline alternative, instead of the TSM and No Build alternatives. FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering.


The Medium project justification rating reflects the good mobility improvements, the positive environmental benefits of the project, and regional efforts to encourage transit supportive land use at station areas.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium - High

DART estimates that the project will serve 41,570 average weekday boardings and attract 9,500 daily new riders by 2025, and would result in the following annual travel time savings.


Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.

New Starts Baseline Alternative

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

1.7 million


Based on 1990 Census data, there are an estimated 3,063 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the 16 stations along the NW/SE LRT MOS.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

The Dallas-Fort Worth region is designated as a serious non-attainment area for ozone. DART estimates that in 2025, the MOS project would result in the following annual emissions reductions.


Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.

New Starts Baseline Alternative

Carbon Monoxide (CO)


Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)


Particulate Matter (PM10)


Carbon Dioxide (CO2)


Values reflect annual tons of emissions reductions. [ ] indicate an increase in emissions.

In 2025, the project is estimated to result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units Ė BTU).


Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.

New Starts Baseline Alternative

BTU (million)


Values reflect annual BTU reductions.

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Low

DART estimates the following costs per passenger mile for the project.


New Start
Baseline Alternative

New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2025)



Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Low-Medium

DART estimates the following cost effectiveness index for the project.



New Start vs.

New Starts Baseline Alternative

Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger


Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium land use rating reflects the regionís success at incorporating mixed uses and infill development in a transit supportive environment.

Existing Conditions:

The project corridor contains a dynamic mix of land uses. The northern segment contains several residential communities and activity centers, and also includes some high trip generators. The southern segment contains several high activity, employment centers, and transit dependent areas located primarily in proximity to the four northernmost stations near the Dallas CBD, and large expanses of low density single family housing in the station areas farther south of the CBD.

A number of plans and studies have been developed to address transit supportive land uses within station areas. Some zoning changes have been adopted to encourage transit supportive development within the corridor. Growth management policies are included in the comprehensive plans of both corridor cities. Both the City and region have adopted or recommended policies that address development and density issues in station areas, as well as land use objectives along LRT corridors.

Future Plans and Policies:

The impact of the NW/SE LRT MOS stations will be further enhanced as the City of Dallas moves forward with adoption of a proposed, new zoning designation, Urban Corridors, that applies both to areas around light rail stations as well as along major arterials served by buses. Various projects and redevelopment plans are being prepared in anticipation of the LRT extension. Station area development and higher corridor densities are being promoted based on an economic study prepared by the University of North Texas, which indicated higher property values around stations as compared to similar properties without rail. As DART initiates its 2025 Transit System Plan, one of the elements to be incorporated for the first time is Land Use/Economic Development, including guidelines for member cities on how to plan for transit supportive land use.

The sustainable development policy in the metropolitan transportation plan supports diversifying land use and development by providing diverse housing types, reducing segregation of land uses in appropriate areas, supporting increased residential and employment densities near transit stations and establishing mixed-use zones around stations. The Master Interlocal Agreement between the City of Dallas and DART provides guidelines on the development of station area plans around the proposed stations. The strong public involvement realized during the alternatives analysis phase is expected to continue during project development, facilitating development of additional transit-supportive policies within the project corridors.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Local Share of Total Project Costs: 55 %

The financial plan for the NW/SE MOS proposes to use $500 million (45 percent of total project costs) in Section 5309 New Starts funds, $30.44 million (2.7 percent) in Section 5307 formula funds, $4.44 million (0.3 percent) in CMAQ funds, and $588.73 million (52 percent) in local funds.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High capital finance plan rating reflects the sound financial condition of DART and the solid local financial support to undertake the proposed project, as evidenced by the August 2000 public referendum allowing DART to issue up to $2.9 billion in long-term bonds to expedite construction of the light rail build-out and fund other capital projects.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: DART has a longstanding and stable dedicated revenue stream from which total sources of funds are projected to exceed total uses over the 20 year cash flow projection. DART has demonstrated that the agency has the fiscal capability and sufficient funding to construct the project.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Capital cost estimates are reasonable and sound for a project at this stage of development, and include acceptable contingencies.

Existing and Committed Funding: The one percent state sales and use tax is the source of DARTís capital and operating revenues. All non-Section 5309 New Starts funds are committed and available to fund and operate the NW/SE LRT MOS project as well as other planned expansions, and to meet its capital maintenance needs.

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium - High

The Medium-High operating finance plan rating reflects DARTís secure operating revenue stream and its allocation to the project.

Agency Operating Financial Condition: The state sales tax provides DART with a secure operating revenue stream and the financial capacity to operate its planned expansions and fleet maintenance requirements.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Agency operating and maintenance costs are projected to increase incrementally with the addition of new services and facilities at the forecasted inflation rate, which is a reasonable approach. Existing transit vehicles and facilities are well maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment in the system. The average annual operating cost of the proposed NW/SE LRT MOS is estimated at $36.8 million (escalated dollars).

Existing and Committed Funding: A portion of the state sales tax is dedicated to fund DART operations, providing 80 percent of total operating revenues.

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan
(Reported in $YOE)


Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)


Appropriations to Date

Section 5309 New Starts


($1 million appropriated through FY 2001)
  Section 5307 Formula




  Sales Tax





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