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January 2008

Rail News: Passenger Rail

DART to cut $900 million in light-rail construction costs

The rising cost of construction materials are affecting all transit agencies that have projects in the works. Just how big of a hit are agencies taking? At Dallas Area Rapid Transit, officials announced last month they’re seeking to trim up to $900 million in projected costs for light-rail extensions to North Irving, DFW International Airport and Rowlett, Texas.

The agency’s 20-year financial plan includes $988 million for the Irving and Rowlett extensions, but a preliminary review showed escalating construction costs will bring the construction total closer to $1.9 billion.

Officials will identify cost reductions in all of DART’s programmed capital costs, not just those associated with the system expansion. They also will examine financing options, the potential for public/private partnerships and other revenue sources.

In addition, DART might delay the projected opening date of the first leg of the 14-mile North Irving line — a 5.1-mile segment from Bachman Lake to Las Colinas Urban Center — up to one year.

DART had planned to complete the entire North Irving line to DFW Airport in 2013; the five-mile Rowlett line is scheduled to open in 2012.

The cost-cutting measures will not affect DART’s $1.7 billion, 28-mile Green Line, which currently is under construction. The line will extend from Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas, through Deep Ellum and downtown Dallas, to the Medical/Market District, Love Field Airport, Farmers Branch and Carrollton.

Massachusetts tabs firm to craft South Coast Rail plan

Last month, the commonwealth of Massachusetts contracted planning and design firm Goody Clancy to develop the South Coast Rail Corridor Plan.

Scheduled to be released in summer 2009, the plan will include recommendations on how the state and municipalities can partner to maximize economic development and job growth in the south coast area. The plan also will identify land use development patterns in 31 cities, development opportunities, and ways economic growth and land use changes can help finance the project. The commonwealth’s Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works and Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development will oversee the plan’s development.

The South Coast project calls for restoring passenger-rail service from Boston’s South Station to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.


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