Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fund diversion could doom Texas rail line

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Plans to build a commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport would likely be mothballed if Fort Worth stops contributing $7.5 million a year to the project and instead uses the money on street repairs, officials told the Ft. Worth Star Telegram.
The proposed rail line, which would also go through downtown Fort Worth and Grapevine, is tentatively scheduled to open in 2013. But the project can’t move forward without the funds in question, officials said.

"It would really undo any opportunity we have to build that southwest-to-northeast project," said Robert Jameson, a board member for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as the T.

Fort Worth officials said that they’re weighing cost-cutting options, including using some of the T’s money, generated by a half-cent sales tax, for streets.

Grapevine officials said they are concerned that Fort Worth officials would even consider such a move. In 2006, Grapevine voters approved a three-eighths-cent sales tax for the rail project and were assured that Fort Worth was committed to the project, too.

Since then, Fort Worth and Grapevine have contributed to the T’s rail reserve fund, and the balance is now $33.5 million, T finance director Rob Harmon said.

The rail project could cost $470 million. T officials have secured about half the funding they need.

 


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