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The T designates TEX Rail's first phase

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority's (The T) board expects to designate the first phase of the TEX Rail commuter-rail project on Aug. 12.

If approved, the action would enable the TEX Rail project to reach the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport as soon as possible, while maintaining the authority's ability to obtain $380 million in federal New Starts funding, The T officials announced yesterday.

"It has become apparent that a phasing of the project will permit The T to begin this initial segment as soon as possible," said Chairman Scott Mahaffey in a press release.

The proposed action would designate the Minimal Operable Segment (MOS) of the project, which originally was part of the draft environmental impact study conducted in 2008, as the locally preferred alternative. The MOS is the project phase that will run from the T&P Station in downtown Fort Worth, across northeast Tarrant County to Grapevine and DFW Airport.

The T will continue efforts in the next phase to extend TEX Rail to a proposed Summer Creek Rail Station in southwest Fort Worth, authority officials said.

Designating the MOS would adhere to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements to ensure that TEX Rail stays in the running for the federal funds available after a record of decision is secured, they said.

"The FTA has emphasized that New Starts grant funds are limited, and we are responding to those constraints by beginning with the segment identified in our project all along as our first phase," said The T President Dick Ruddell.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who has advocated for comprehensive commuter-rail service, emphasized the importance of following the FTA's guidance to keep the local grant request in good standing.

"While the funding for TEX Rail continues to be a moving target, we simply have to start somewhere," she said. "Connecting downtown to DFW Airport has been and will continue to be our top priority. After the successful implementation of this first phase, I'm confident that future phases to extend the service will follow."

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