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12/18/2018



Rail News: Passenger Rail

DART to close on RRIF loan agreement for Cotton Belt project


A rendering of the Cotton Belt train
Photo – DART

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Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) this week expects to close on an agreement for a $908 million loan with the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.

The loan will be used to fund the Cotton Belt Corridor project, which calls for construction of a 26-mile commuter-rail line from Plano, Texas, to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. 

A DART spokesman confirmed that the agency anticipates closing on the loan this week.

Financing through a RRIF loan leaves DART in a better position to issue bonds for its proposed D2 Subway project, said DART Vice Chairman Paul Wageman in an interview with The Bond Buyer.

RRIF loans typically provide a substantially lower interest rate than conventional tax-exempt debt, which would preserve DART's debt capacity for future projects such as the D2, a $1.2 billion project to add a second rail line through downtown Dallas.

"The loan really made the [Cotton Belt] project possible," Wageman told the newspaper.

The rail line will include 10 stations, as well as interchanges with DART's light-rail Orange, Green and Red lines; the TEXRail commuter-rail line to Fort Worth; and local bus services.

Earlier this month, DART's board approved a $783 million contract to its design-build partner, Archer Western Herzog JV, to build the Cotton Belt. Construction is expected to begin next year and be completed in 2022, according to an Archer Western Herzog press release.



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