TEX Rail in Fort Worth gets $4 million in federal grant money

commuter rail

Fort Worth officials don’t have the train on the track, but plans seem headed that way.

Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the T, received a slight boost recently when the federal government allocated $4 million toward TEX Rail, NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth reported. It’s a 37-mile commuter rail line aimed at taking people by light rail from southwest Fort Worth to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Fort Worth joins Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin in pushing light-rail lines or street cars, an effort to put a dent in Texas metros' comparatively low ranking for jobs near public transit.  Officials with the T have engaged residents in neighborhoods where stations would be built, the Fort Worth Business Press has reported.

Officials also have applied for $415 million in federal funds on a project that would cost $758 million. The selection of stations and preliminary engineering must be in place by early 2013, the business news publication reported. So the $4 million helps officials reach that destination, and officials insist the project won’t require local sales tax dollars beyond the share the agency already collects.

The plans in Fort Worth comes at a time of challenges for public light rail systems.

Republicans in Congress and in state capitals want to kill urban rail plans. Other conservatives believe projects will take money away from other public services. The projects are prone to coming in over budget and, as is the case with TEX Rail, late. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price lit the fire under the project in March with her passionate comments about it being late.

“Deadlines have continued to be pushed further and further. Truth be told, I’m simply not satisfied with the progress and I don’t believe the council is either,” Price said at the time, according to DFW’s KTVT Channel 11.

As officials at the T seek to get trains out of the station in four years, it faces several hurdles before those light rail cars cruise down the track.

Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of commuter rail train by flickr user railsr4me, used via a Creative Commons license.