A proposed commuter rail line from downtown Fort Worth to Grapevine is expected to receive $100 million in President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget.
Supporters of the TEX Rail line say that although the allocation is still subject to congressional approval, they are encouraged that the passenger rail service could open by 2018. Construction could begin next year.
“We are very pleased with the continued recognition by the Federal Transit Administration of the importance of this project,” said Paul Ballard, president of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.
The agency, also known as the T, is planning the commuter rail route, which would connect with the well-established Trinity Railway Express line in downtown Fort Worth.
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TEX Rail would not only connect to Grapevine but also serve Dallas/Fort Worth Airport at Terminal B, where passengers could transfer to Dallas Area Rapid Transit light-rail trains serving much of the eastern Metroplex.
In 2013, the T’s board was overhauled by Fort Worth City Council members tired of delays in TEX Rail.
“The council gave the T board pretty strong direction, and I think this shows they’re making progress,” Councilman Jungus Jordan said.
The Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration signed off on the project last year, clearing the way for final design and — once the money becomes available — construction of the 27-mile line. The T can also begin buying rail cars, which are typically delivered a year or more after they are ordered.
In all, the T expects to need $405 million in federal funding to cover half the expected cost of building TEX Rail. Last year, $50 million was included in the federal budget.
Even though the T is less than halfway to its funding goal, board President Scott Mahaffey said he is optimistic about the project, given the wide support for it in North Texas.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796