The Fort Worth City Council voted down a resolution that would have supported still-undrafted state legislation facilitating the privately-backed 62-mile Cotton Belt commuter rail line connecting southwest Fort Worth to D/FW Airport and Plano or Richardson. Here's the print version in Thursday's Star-Telegram by our transportation reporter, Gordon Dickson.
Led by Councilman Jungus Jordan, the council voted down the resolution by a vote of 6-2-1, with Mayor Betsy Price absent. Council members Joel Burns and Danny Scarth voted against Jordan’s motion.
Jordan said he felt the resolution would have been tantamount to issuing a “blank check.”
A new law is needed because the project, which would span 62 miles and connect southwest Fort Worth to DFW Airport and either Plano or Richardson, would pass through 13 cities in Tarrant, Dallas and Collin counties.
An unidentified team of companies has notified the North Central Texas Council of Governments that they wish to develop the line, using property values and station development along the corridor to repay their investment.
But such a move would require a law allowing the creation of a special tax district in those cities. The deadline for filing local or nonemergency bills is March 8.
Lawmakers want assurances that the Cotton Belt project is supported by leaders in every jurisdiction.
“There are already several cities that have already said they’re not willing to create a special district,” Jordan said today. “We’re being asked to support legislation that is in draft that we do not...have sufficient control over.”
The Tarrant County portion of the project from southwest Fort Worth to DFW is the same 37-mile corridor where the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, also known as the T, is seeking to build the TEX Rail commuter line by 2016. The Cotton Belt project would encompass everything in the TEX Rail line, plus an additional 25 miles to the northeast to Plano or Richardson.
The project would boldly connect Metroplex neighborhoods such as Fort Worth's Texas Christian University, Grapevine's historical Main Street and Dallas County's Addison Circle - places that today seem far apart.
Fort Worth City Council members are supportive of the concept of the Cotton Belt project, but only if it doesn't slow down the effort to build the TEX Rail project on the Tarrant County portion of the line.
- Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram Fort Worth City Hall reporter