TEX Rail Progressing Toward 2016 Goal

Fort Worth leaders want TEX Rail to go forward without being slowed by Cotton Belt rail project

City leaders say the TEX Rail passenger line is progressing well after months of issues.

Because of that progress, Fort Worth leaders want to keep it separate from a larger project, the Cotton Belt rail line.

The proposed Cotton Belt could eventually have you riding the rails from Plano to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The TEX Rail will connect southwest Fort Worth with the airport as early as 2016.

There was a lot of positive talk about the progress on the TEX Rail during the Fort Worth Passenger Rail Working Group meeting on Wednesday morning.

"We feel very good about the progress that we're seeing on all fronts," said Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan, the working group's chair.

It has only been a few months since the City Council decided to replace the entire Fort Worth Transportation Authority board because it felt the board wasn't moving fast enough to keep the TEX Rail project on track.

But now city leaders feel they will make their 2016 goal of being in operation.

"And we do not want anything to get in the way," Jordan said. "We've got a single purpose, and we're going to make that happen."

The City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting development of the Cotton Belt Rail but making it clear the two lines should be built separately.

"We don't want to confuse the issue on the funding side," Jordan said.

TEX Rail could receive federal funding by the fall, matched locally with $450 million but the Cotton Belt is in need of legislation out of Austin.

There is also a key difference in how the Metroplex's western and eastern counties fund transportation projects. It could take the Cotton Belt side of the project some time before funding is ready, while the western side of the Metroplex is much closer.

"We think TEX Rail makes sense on its own, stands on its on," Jordan said. "And it's important for the western part of our region to get to our airport."

Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, agrees that the separate ventures will work the best and that eventually the two lines would become one.

"It gives us the opportunity to be more efficient, better communication, more streamlined financial procedures," Morris said. "But, still, the public needs to understand if you get on a train in Fort Worth and want to go to downtown Carrollton, you're not changing trains or anything like that."

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