Shutdown So Far Causes Few Transportation Roadblocks in Texas, But Planners Fear ‘upcoming Crisis’

WASHINGTON — Dallas Area Rapid Transit closed on a key $908 million federal loan late on a Friday last month, marking a significant step toward building the long-awaited east-west commuter rail line known as the Cotton Belt.The next day, the federal government shut down.While DART officials narrowly avoided that potential hiccup — the loaning agency, the Federal Railroad Administration, now has half of its staff on furlough — they and other transportation planners across the U.S. are eyeing the partial shutdown with increasing wariness.It's a function of the budget impasse heading deep into uncharted territory, with some officials in Texas and beyond unsure about the long-term impact on rails, roads and other infrastructure."It's important for the federal government to get back to work," DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said, citing a range of shutdown complications, including delays to an effort to extend some light rail station platforms.The early impact on Texas' transportation network has been limited, with officials at DART, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Trinity Metro in Fort Worth and the Denton County Transportation Authority all reporting that it's been largely business as usual.But that could change as time goes on, with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the region's metropolitan planning organization, showing how quickly the situation could turn.  Continue reading...

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