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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 14, 2012
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DART Opens Two New Light Rail Segments

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) opened two more segments of its light rail system, extending the Blue Line to Rowlett and the Orange Line farther into Irving and closer to Dallas-Ford Worth (DFW) International Airport.

DART has built more than 40 miles of track in the last three years, greatly enhancing public transit accessibility throughout the Dallas area. At 85 miles, DART Rail is the largest electric light rail system in the nation.

Blue Line Sparks Development Plans
The opening of DART’s Downtown Rowlett Station marks the first expansion of the Blue Line since it reached Garland in November 2002. The 4.5-mile, $360 million segment completes the buildout of the northeast corridor and increases access to and from the largely residential community.

“Rowlett residents had the foresight and wisdom to invest in alternatives to driving around this sprawling region,” said John Carter Danish, chair of the DART Board of Directors. “They knew public transit was more than an amenity, but a ‘must’ for preserving their city’s small-town charm while also providing access to big-city resources and opportunities.”

In advance of the opening, the “inaugural” train carrying officials and news media ran Nov. 30 from the Downtown Garland Station to the new Downtown Rowlett Station, breaking a ribbon across the platform at the new station. DART hosted a “Super Saturday” community festival Dec. 1 at Rowlett, featuring a fireworks display and free rides on DART Rail between Downtown Rowlett and Forest/Jupiter. Additional customer appreciation activities followed during the morning rush hour on Dec. 3.

Community and civic leaders are optimistic that the arrival of DART will pay off in increased visitors and commercial growth, both of which are critical to broadening the city’s tax base. Downtown Rowlett Station’s opening has also prompted zoning changes and development guidelines to attract transit-oriented, walkable mixed-use development near the station.
 In late 2016, DART will lengthen the Blue Line south from Ledbetter Station to connect to the University of North Texas at Dallas.

Orange Line Grows; Routes Link Rail to Airports
The $1.3 billion Orange Line—the first section of which opened in July with three stations—grew nearly four miles with new stops at North Lake College and Belt Line Road, on DFW Airport property. This segment advances the line toward its eventual terminus at DFW Airport, where it will connect riders from throughout the Dallas area to one of the nation’s busiest airports.

When DFW Station opens late in 2014, DART will become one of the few U.S. public transit agencies with direct rail service into a major airport.

“The Orange Line connects people to a greater number of educational and employment opportunities throughout North Texas, and when it reaches DFW Airport, light rail will link the Dallas area to the entire world,” said DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas.

DART also debuted two new bus connections to area airports on Dec. 3. Route 500 runs from the Belt Line Station on the Orange Line to Terminal A at DFW, while Route 524 from the Inwood/Love Field Station on the Green Line improves service to Dallas Love Field Airport with more frequent trips.


Cutting the ribbon at DART’s new North Lake College Station in Irving, TX, are, from left, Gary Thomas, DART president/executive director; Christa Slejko, North Lake College president; Chris Fulmer, station artist for North Lake College Station and a former North Lake College art professor; Dan Matkin, former DART board member from Irving and former Irving mayor; Don Jensen, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber Transportation Management Association Member; Huelon Harrison, representing KSWRP, the contractor that built the DART Orange Line; and Dan Vedral, city of Irving director of transportation.

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