DART currently holds the delicate future of downtown Dallas in its hands. And in the next few months, it will come time for DART to choose whether or not they do what’s best for the city.
First, some brief background. Dallas Area Rapid Transit was originally called the “Dallas Transit System” when it was formed in 1964 by combining several private streetcar lines into one simplified service.
The system evolved into DART in 1983, and changing its name to include the “Dallas Area” and the promise of being “rapid” transit. With its creation, the city of Dallas made DART agree to make a second line downtown to alleviate train congestion.
But that agreement is more than 30 years expired, and there’s still only a single downtown line, causing the entire system to suffer delays.
Fed up with the lack of results, Dallas City Council voted last September for a new downtown line to use the “Jackson Route.” The one dissenting vote came from Councilmember Philip Kingston, who thought that just building a second line wasn’t enough.
He wanted it to be underground.
Though he was the single voice in that vote, there’s since been a growing push by citizens and businesses to make the entire line a subway.
According to the Dallas Morning News, landholders and business owners are insisting that regardless of the route, a street-level DART line would cripple the urban core’s progress.
And that’s a valid concern. If you’ve spent any time driving through the urban core, it’s hard to even imagine more stoplights or traffic caused by rail crossings.
The downside, of course, is that building underground is more expensive and will delay the project’s completion, but those in favor of the subway say it’s worth the cost.
DART’s hesitance to go underground comes from the potential for complications. Even when planning the original route, which was 21 percent underground, DART expressed concerns about the path.
Kingston, though, told the Dallas Morning News that DART picked the above-ground route because it wanted more Federal funding, and not because it’s what would be best for downtown.
A street-level line would hurt pedestrians, businesses, commuters, and just about anyone trying to make their way downtown.
For Dallas residents, the choice seems obvious. But as a company who has been facing growing distrust from the public, DART has a heavy choice to make between what is easy, and what will build a sustainable future for downtown Dallas.