Monday, October 17, 2016

Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead

Regionalism is dead. It was killed over DART's desire to build both a downtown Dallas D2 line and a suburban Cotton Belt commuter train line. DART included funding for some preliminary work on a second DART line (D2) line through downtown Dallas in its 2017 budget. It also included funding for some preliminary work on the Cotton Belt.

The latter became the casus belli for the mass transit war between Dallas and its suburbs to the north.

Dallas wants D2. The suburbs want it, too. Relieving the bottleneck downtown means there can be more trains on the whole system. Richardson mayor Paul Voelker said, "I want to thank the DART board for including the study & preparation funding for both the D2 light rail and the Cotton Belt commuter rail."

So, the sticking point is not D2. It's the Cotton Belt. The suburbs want it to carry passengers from Plano to DFW Airport. Its route benefits Plano, Richardson, Addison, and yes even far north Dallas. Dallas city council member, Lee Kleinman, supports it. He said "everyone in Dallas and the northern suburbs should cheer for the Cotton Belt line."

Not everyone in Dallas cheered. The farther away from north Dallas you go, the greater the opposition to spending money on the Cotton Belt. And Kleinman wasn't willing to fall on his sword in support of the Cotton Belt. The full Dallas city council voted unanimously "on a resolution that did not include the Cotton Belt as one of its transit priorities."

In short...Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead. Richardson can expect no cooperation from the City of Dallas in having the A in DART stand for Area. Expect Dallas to pressure DART to drop the Cotton Belt and focus solely on downtown Dallas, at least until 2035 or thereabouts, if at all.

This should come as no surprise to long-time readers of The Wheel. Recall this 2011 article in which I described Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze as having "ranted about the blood-sucking suburbs and called for Dallas to tear up the DART tracks, too. He called for Dallasites to retreat, kind of like Morlocks, I suppose, into train tunnels where heavy rail subway trains can shuttle Dallasites back and forth between, I dunno, maybe the West End and Deep Ellum." That was just Jim Schutze, longtime Dallas agitator. Now his attitude has spread to the whole popularly elected Dallas city council. Suburbs, watch your backs. Dallas doesn't want any of its DART money going to benefit the suburbs. Regionalism is dead.

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