Wednesday, June 21, 2006
What Lansing needs most
--a way to be car-free and still engaged in the social, civic, and economic life of the area. If _Dallas_ can do it, any city that pulls its head out can. See LightRailNow.org for more.
Looks Easy Now ...
The Bumpy Road to Light-Rail Success
Dallas’ light-rail system is so successful today, it’s hard to imagine how close it came to foundering. DART recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of its first rail line. It’s good, then, to look back on those difficult early years because they show other regions how vision and tenacity can overcome cynicism and self-doubt.
First, though, how successful is DART? As the Dallas Morning News recounted recently, the 45-mile rail system has begun reshaping its region, not just by offering another way to work but by changing the way land is used along its path. According to studies, developers have announced or built more than $3 billion in projects in DART rail corridors in the past decade. “Rail does the same things highways have done,” DART’s board chair told the Morning News. “Before, businesses actually turned their facades around to face the highway. What we’re doing now is turning that back around again to face our rail lines.”
And then, of course, there are the passenger statistics. DART hauls 70,000 riders on weekdays, about 17.5 million a year, very close to original forecasts. And though it’s still new, DART is already the fifth-largest light-rail system in the country. “It’s part of an emerging new fabric of Dallas,” one civic leader told the Morning News. “DART already has, and will have, a very, very significant impact on how we grow in the future.” (To view a map of DART’s rail system, click here.)
But it was almost not to be. . .
Footnote: So what’s next for DART? The big prize is connecting with Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which should be achieved in another seven years. When completed, DART will have 93 miles of rail lines, more than twice its present size.