North Dallas Neighbors Want DART Rail Tunnel

Silver Line Rail only 30% designed, despite September groundbreaking

Groundbreaking for DART's Silver Line was last month but design is only 30% complete and North Dallas neighbors want the transit agency to go back to the drawing board for more improvements.

DART has offered what it calls "Betterments" to the rail line linking Plano with DFW Airport.

"Betterments are additions to the layout, to the lines, above what's already mandated. So we're working very closely with them to see what fits their needs," DART Spokesman Gordon Shattles said.

DART is offering things like sound walls and noise mitigating tracks. North Dallas neighbors want a tunnel to make the trains invisible through their section of the route.

"If they have to build this, we just want safety to be the number one priority. And quality of life, that's why we moved here," Silver Line Critic Brian Finkelstein said.

Among the surface level crossings in the Silver Line plan is the Preston Ridge Trail, a popular hike and bike path beside the street called Meandering Way which also has heavy sidewalk traffic.

"DART is proposing 90 trains a day over that Preston Ridge Trail crossing. That is very unsafe," said Maura Schreier-Fleming, the president of a homeowners association in the area. "Put the train in a tunnel. That addresses safety. It addresses noise. It addresses a whole host of problems."

DART is seeking votes from track adjacent neighbors on which betterments they favor but Schreier-Fleming said many more people are concerned about safety than those being polled by DART.

"DART limited the voters to nine people out of my 247 home owners," she said.

Finkelstein said the plans keep changing so neighbors are unclear about the alternatives.

"It's difficult for people to vote on things when they don't know what's going to happen," he said.

DART built a rail tunnel beneath the Central Expressway between downtown and Mockingbird Station for the original light rail system.

The agency said the alternative is too expensive in an environmental impact study on the Silver Line, known at that time as the Cotton Belt Corridor.

The study said other safety measures on a surface level train would be acceptable.

"We're happy to set up one on one meetings, maybe even additional meetings with entire neighborhoods. Our job right now is the make sure everyone is comfortable with the betterments they choose, and to get them in place," Shattles said. "We will continue to work until we have consensus. We're not going to do anything until we have consensus."

North Dallas neighbors have long opposed the Silver Line while strong demand for the service came from officials in Addison, Plano, Richardson, Carrollton and the Cypress Waters neighborhood in Dallas.

Unlike DART's 90 mile light rail network powered by overhead electric lines, the Silver Line will use self powered rail cars, like Fort Worth's Tex Rail and the Denton County Transit Authority A Trains.

The Silver Line will cost more than $900 million. DART intends to provide Silver Line service in 2022.

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