Supporters for new DART rail line pack board meeting

Richard Ray reports.

For several weeks now, DART has been holding meetings about a new proposed rail line.

The proposed Cotton Belt line would run from Plano to DFW Airport. Supporters of the new line chartered a bus to DART’s Tuesday board meeting to show just how much they want this to happen.

Supporters from Addison pitched creating the Cotton Belt line from existing tracks in Plano, Richardson, Addison, Carrollton and on to DFW airport.  The Addison light rail stop would go in next to DART's existing bus transit station there.

"We're very excited,” said Addison Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Arfsten. “And that's why we've all gathered up and make sure the DART folks know how excited we are and really want the DART rail here."

Also at DART meeting were dozens more from Richardson, including its mayor.

"The Cotton Belt was actually on the original 1983 plan, which our citizens voted to become a member of DART on,” explained Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker. “So we've been waiting since then for that to happen."

"There is some opposition up north. People in the area have built some nice homes there, and the Cotton Belt line would be just beyond their backyards

And some at Dallas City Hall have framed the new line as a competition between building the D-2, a second downtown Dallas line, or the Cotton Belt. But DART officials say it's not.

"We've reviewed the financial plans,” said Morgan Lyons with DART. “We reviewed updated plans with the board today, and we can do both projects at the same time."

The track is in some disrepair, but DART says it won't be a major challenge to upgrade for light rail.

At the request of Dallas officials, the DART Board agreed to put off a vote on its 20-year-plan, including the Cotton Belt line, until next month. But at this point, the project appears to be on track.

If the project stays on track, it would move completion of the Cotton Belt up significantly from 2035 to as early as 2022.

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