Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dart D2 Downtown Rail Alignment - Interview with Council Member Adam Medrano



 "Local's on the Street"

Council Member Adam Medrano

Dart D2 Downtown Rail Alignment

 
 

My interview with District 2 Council Member Adam Medrano about the proposed Dart D2 Rail Line and the importance of saving homes & local businesses.

 
Tomorrow Dallas City Council will vote on the D2 Dart Alignment. It will be a relief to finally get this behind us. The past 12-18 months our neighborhood discussions have revolved around what the latest DART preferred route was.  The secrecy, rumors and lack of information leading up to the Public Meetings was difficult.  Especially, considering the homeowners and local businesses impacted; many of which had moved to the Farmers Market area in the past ten years since DART began the evaluation process.
 
In late June; home owners, local businesses, First Presbyterian Church, etc. met with Dart representatives to discuss possible alternatives to the B4 routes.  More importantly, a possible solution that could save area homes and businesses. During these meetings, the B4 Jackson "Alternative" was born.  Essentially, the same route as B4 Young, except, splitting up Ervay to Jackson and avoiding First Presbyterian Church and the town homes on Canton all together. The community rallied around the new route and deemed it the "preferred" route if a B4 route was favored by the City or Dart Board.  We also supported B7, as an alternative to demolishing homes or businesses. Our community united to support B4 Jackson.
 
In the past week, some opposition has came forward for the B4 Jackson "Alternative".  The oppositions concerns are valid, especially, with such limited information available on the street impact for any of the possible lines.
 
However, what has troubled me the most during the past two weeks leading up to tomorrows City Council vote is the division that I have seen happening. I have witnessed City Council Members bicker and argue, acting like school children. Egos taking front and center instead of listening to the downtown residents and community. I have seen special interest groups weigh in last moment, looking for ways to benefit their "brothers".  Church and religion becoming a point of public debate and hierarchy, when it should be about the future of downtown. Communities not even involved with the discussions, have attacked and criticized the home owners for wanting to save the place they lay their head down at night. If our City becomes a place where everyone argues with no compromise; how will we progress and move forward? Shouldn't there always be a place for compromise? 
 
Whatever happens tomorrow at  Dallas City Council, the most important thing is we need a decision made.  Right or wrong....it needs to happen!  Our thirteen City Council Members and Mayor need to choose a Dart route and move our downtown forward. Don't let this drag out any further and negatively impact our future relationship as a city. 
 
 
Below are Examples of letters sent to City Council Members by home owners, local businesses and church members impacted by the B4 routes explaining why they chose to support the B4 Jackson "Avoidance" D2 route and not the other alternatives.
 

Date:     Sat, 22 Aug 2015 15:24:41 -0500
 
Dear Mr. Rawlings, City Managers, Dallas City Council Representatives, and DART Board,

I've been living in DFW some 35 years or so, in Richardson, Plano, Rockwall, Uptown, and now Downtown with my wife and greyhound.  I believe in this city more than most.  It's hard to believe I've been downtown for 4 years now, and that my Canton town-home neighbors and I stand directly in the cross-hairs of some of the proposed DART D2 alignments.  But I think this can all work out, and as a community with 1st Presby, the FMSA, and others we've worked with DART to find solutions, and bring B4 Avoidance to the light of day.  Ultimately, I believe DART is trying to do the right thing for the city, and as you all very well know that can be an exceptionally hard thing.

 The 10 DART D2 proposals are certainly confusing.  Let's simplify. 

Patrick Kennedy of D Magazine said it best "the most important thing is getting the full thing built."

First, let's consider downtown residents. Throw out B4a, B4b, and C3a because they bulldoze family homes and successful businesses in Farmer's Market.  B4 Elevated divides the neighborhood with 345-style urban division, so that's out too.

Second, let's look at affordability.  The DART Financial Plan accounts for $350M,  the FTA matches up to 50%, for a total of $700M.  Any options under $700M can be built in totality without phasing.  There's no identified source for funding beyond this $700M for subsequent phases.  Which is better: a half-built underground line or a fully functional line?  B7/B7a is just not fiscally responsible.

Third, ridership.  C3 has the lowest projected ridership among all the options, so we'll eliminate that.  We're left with plain B4, which has property issues on the east side. That's why we have B4 Avoidance (not to be confused with B4a) with a section on Jackson St.  B4 Avoidance has similar ridership and cost to plain B4, with routing that makes better use of available land, and provides a superior Farmer's Market station location.

Considering cost, ridership, and making sure the thing actually gets built, B4 Avoidance is a clear choice.

 -Ed Lopategui

 
From: Rob Robinson
Sent: Sunday, September 06, 2015 12:50 PM
To: Scott Griggs; Adam Medrano; Casey Thomas; Carolyn Arnold; Rick Callahan; Monica Alonzo; Tiffinni Young; Erik Wilson; Mark Clayton; Adam McGough; Lee Kleinman; Sandy Greyson; Jennifer Gates; Philip Kingston
Cc: Mike Rawlings; A C Gonzalez; Evans, Ryan; Tanya Ragan
Subject: DART D2 - CHOOSE B4 AVOIDANCE

 DART D2 - B4 AVOIDANCE is the right choice:

  • It does not tear down family homes and successful businesses.
  • It’s affordable.
  • It has one of the highest projected ridership.

The 10 DART D2 proposals are confusing.  Let's simplify.  

First,  as a resident of downtown B4a, B4b, and C3a are bad choices because they bulldoze my neighbor's homes and successful businesses in Farmer's Market.  B4 Elevated is a poor choice since it divides my neighborhood with unsightly overpasses ripe for crime.

Second, consider affordability.  The DART Financial Plan accounts for $350M,  the FTA matches up to 50%, for a total of $700M.  Any options under $700M can be built in totality without phasing.  There's no identified source for funding beyond this $700M for subsequent phases.  Which is better: a half-built underground line or a fully functional line?  B7/B7a are not fiscally responsible.  

Third, consider ridership.  C3 has the lowest projected ridership among all the options, so eliminate that option.  We're left with plain B4, which has property issues on the east side. That's why we have B4 Avoidance (not to be confused with B4a) with a section on Jackson St.  B4 Avoidance has similar ridership and cost to plain B4, with routing that makes better use of available land, and provides a superior Farmer's Market station location.

Considering cost, ridership, and making sure DART D2 actually gets built, B4 Avoidance is the right choice.

 Rob Robinson

Vice President - Farmers Market Stakeholders Assn.
 

 
Current Maps & Misc. Info on B4 Jackson
 
 


B4 Jackson "Alternative Route.
 

 
First Presbyterian Church property in the path of dart.

 
 
Example of Townhomes in the direct path of dart B4.
 
 
 
 B4 Jackson "Avoidance" Misconceptions.

 
Quotes from Farmers Market Stakeholder's homeowners & businesses explaining why they support B4 Jackson "Alternative" and not other B4 options.
 
 
Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista
 

Dallas officials zero in on Jackson Street route for new DART tracks 

The downtown skyline is seen through the window of a northbound DART Blue Line train Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Dallas.
The downtown skyline is seen through the window of a northbound DART Blue Line train Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Dallas.
 

After years of developing potential paths for a second downtown light-rail route, Dallas Area Rapid Transit officials could be forced to move forward with an alignment that’s been around for only a few weeks.
The Dallas City Council’s transportation committee Monday unanimously recommended seeking federal subsidies for a single alignment whose eastern length runs along Jackson Street, a move meant to avoid a church and several townhouses.
That action ignored DART and city staff recommendations to also leave open a door for a route that runs farther along Young Street. DART also wants that option in case the transit agency or federal officials determine the Jackson route is not feasible.
But DART also wants the full City Council’s buy-in to bolster its request for federal funds. And the transit agency can’t build any route that the council doesn’t approve.
DART’s planning committee meets to discuss its recommended alignment Tuesday. The full DART board will vote on an alignment Sept. 22. The full City Council votes on an alignment Sept. 9.
City Council member Erik Johnson on Monday got no support for submitting both routes as one federal application. Instead, council member Adam Medrano, whose district includes a large part of downtown, successfully amended the proposed recommendation to include only the Jackson route.
Medrano said that downtown has changed dramatically since DART developed the Young Street alignment.
“That alignment will protect our businesses, the church and the residences,” he said.
Support from pastor
The Young route would bisect the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. It could also require the demolition of its parking garage and abandonment of basement dorms and meeting spaces below. Senior pastor Joe Clifford said he saw Monday’s vote as a good sign but stopped short of declaring victory.
“We’re supportive of the Jackson alignment and are committed to continuing the process,” he said.
DART is seeking as much as $400 million in federal funds for construction of the line. It wants to submit its request to the Federal Transit Administration by Sept. 30. That’s the last date DART can get its project in the federal pipeline before a new president takes office in 2017. A new administration could potentially change transit funding priorities.
The agency has put several potential alignments through preliminary environmental review, but the Jackson alignment is not one of them. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said that the agency can still request federal funds for that alignment, though, since the route as a concept has been put through an early review process.
Both alignments run at street level from Victory Station, move underground as they enter downtown, rise to street level near Field and Young streets, and then head east along Young near City Hall.
The Young alignment continues east on that street before connecting to existing track in Deep Ellum. To avoid the church and townhouses, the Jackson alignment heads two blocks north just east of City Hall and then runs along Jackson before connecting to the Deep Ellum tracks.
Different scenario
DART officials have said they’d prefer to submit the Young alignment with the Jackson route listed as a potential modification. Under that scenario, the Young alignment would be a fall-back in case further vetting of the Jackson route rules it out as an option. But DART leaders have also said they want to make the Jackson alignment work.
“It looks like it will fit,” rail planning vice president Steve Salin said at an informal meeting last week. “It does not look like it has a fatal flaw.”
Medrano’s resolution also calls for at least four stations along the route, though more could be added. DART’s current plans call for four stations along the Jackson alignment but five on the Young route. DART president and executive director Gary Thomas said too many stations could increase how long it takes to get through downtown.
After the meeting, Thomas said he’s glad no one is debating the need for a second line. But he also admitted there’s a lot of “catching up” to do with the Jackson route.
“Right now, the alignment is a fat line on a map,” he said.

 
 


I think my associate Craig Melde put it best.

 

"This would make a great reality show"

- Craig Melde