One of the things we keep up with here at GTO (hey, someone has to) is the progress or lack of progress around the T – Rail or TEX Rail project. The TEX Rail is planned to connect Grapevine to both Fort Worth and DFW airport by train. Before we get to the recent articles in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on this subject, it might be useful to do a quick rewind on how we got here.
Back in 2006, Grapevine voters passed a 1/2 sales tax called the 4B Economic Development. Most of this sales tax would go toward paying Grapevine’s portion of a railway that would connect Grapevine to DFW airport and Fort Worth. The project was originally planned to be completed in 2011. We’ve got some pretty bad news. It is 2011. And it looks like the project has made little progress at all.
So let’s take a look at some of the recent quotes out of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that lead us to believe that if this project is not circling the drain already, it is getting close.
Here’s a quote from an article back in April:
Grapevine voters did their part. They overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase in 2006, and trains were supposed to be running by 2011. That projection was optimistic, but almost five years later, officials haven’t even applied for the federal funds that are supposed to cover half the costs. They haven’t secured the right of way from Dallas Area Rapid Transit, either.
So back in April, the project officials had not applied for federal funds that were supposed to pay for roughly half of the $500-$600 million project. What is bad is that it is starting to look like funds for these types of projects are being cut due to tight federal budgets.
Here’s another quote from an August article in the Star-Telegram:
The federal role in paying for transportation projects is shrinking, and while that may be good news for those who favor smaller government, it could mean long delays for projects such as a proposed commuter rail line in the Fort Worth area.
And it continues:
That could be really bad news for North Texans who are counting on up to $250 million in federal funds to build the TEX Rail commuter line from southwest Fort Worth to Grapevine and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Normally, cities would apply for federal transit funds — and compete with other major cities’ rail projects.
But such “new-starts” funds will likely be significantly cut…
The scheduled opening of TEX Rail has already been pushed back to 2014. Fort Worth and Grapevine have socked away tens of millions of dollars in sales taxes to cover some of the costs, but they can’t get the train out of the station without federal help.
Some might say this project is looking a little bleak. So the real question is – what happens to the funds Grapevine has already invested? Back in 2006 a 1/2 sales tax was approved to fund this project on Grapevine’s end. This is to the tune of roughly $7 million per year (or $35 million so far over 5 years). If this project does collapse, do we get those funds back?
We can think of a couple of places the funds would be well spent. Ahem, new police station. Ahem, Senior Activities Center.