Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Hear The Train A Comin'

Back in the 19th century, communities lived or died based on the route that railroad barons chose for new railroads. Plano and Richardson are about to experience a 21st century version of those long-ago battles. According to a story by Ian McCann of The Dallas Morning News:

"Plano and Richardson are positioning themselves to become transit hubs, connecting the DART Red Line with the proposed Cotton Belt commuter rail. Both city councils have recently approved resolutions that, while effusive in their support of the Cotton Belt, are markedly different in the route they want the new line to take."

After the jump, figuring the odds for this prize fight.

Let's see...

Plano prefers a line that goes through a new 12th Street Station.

Richardson prefers a line that goes east through the existing Bush Station in Richardson, then makes a hard left turn and goes north alongside the existing Red Line tracks to a new 12th Street Station in Plano, where it makes a hard right turn and travels east to Wylie.

I can't see the benefit in having two hubs instead of one. The cost of retrofitting Bush Station *and* building a new 12th Street Station is going to be more than the cost of just building one hub, a new 12th Street Station.

The only way Richardson is going to get its way on this is if DART decides to placate two suburbs instead of just one. But it probably won't be DART's decision. DART doesn't have the money for any of this. They're looking for private financing. And private money is going to be less interested in placating Richardson than in what makes most economic sense. Richardson will still get its UT-Dallas Station, so Richardson is not going to torpedo the whole deal if Bush Station is bypassed.

All things considered, the smart money is probably not on Richardson getting a hub at Bush Station. And that's if private financing is available and the rail line is developed at all. That's probably the least likely bet of all.

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