Fort Worth and Plano are 50 miles apart, but soon this train will connect them

January 28,2021

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Gordon Dickson here.

The drive from downtown Fort Worth to Plano is about 50 miles, and when traffic is heavy — which is often — it can be a tedious trip.

But soon, North Texans will be able to take a train.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit — also known as DART — has begun construction on a project known as the Silver Line.

The Silver Line will run along the old Cotton Belt freight rail line through Plano, Dallas, Carrollton, Richardson, Addison and Coppell before arriving at DFW Airport.

There, passengers will be able to connect with TEXRail, a commuter line that opened in 2019 and connects DFW Airport to multiple stations in Grapevine, North Richland Hills and Fort Worth.

The Silver Line is scheduled for completion in 2023, and construction has begun.

Large shipments of metal rails recently arrived in Plano. Construction workers will install the rails as they modernize the old tracks, DART spokesman Gordon Shattles said.

“A total of 200, 80-foot-long rail sections, 16,000 feet of rail, were delivered by special train from Steel Dynamics, Inc. of Indiana,” Shattles said in an email.

Transit supporters hope the TEXRail-Silver Line connection will promote development in cities along the line, expand jobs and make cities such as Fort Worth and Plano — which are part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, which has more than 8 million residents — feel more like neighbors.

The line will essentially form a 53-mile long corridor that cuts diagonally across the Metroplex from southwest to northeast.

In the Dallas area, Silver Line riders can connect with DART light rail as well as Denton’s A-Train commuter line which runs through Carrollton. In Fort Worth, TEXRail riders can connect with the Trinity Railway Express commuter line, and Trinity Metro’s bus services.

On the southwest end of the commuter line, TEXRail currently terminates at the old Texas & Pacific Station on the south end of downtown Fort Worth.

However, Trinity Metro, which is Fort Worth’s transit agency, is working on a plan to extend the TEXRail line another 2.1 miles to the city’s medical district.

Trinity Metro this year got permission from the Federal Transit Administration to use $38.9 million left over from the original construction of the TEXRail line to cover part of the cost of extending the line to the city’s medical district, where about 40,000 people live and work. The area includes the fledgling Near Southside and the city’s popular Magnolia Avenue restaurant and entertainment area.

Although ridership has been hit hard on TEXRail during the pandemic, planners in cities along the line including Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and Grapevine have invested heavily in transit-oriented development around several of the stations.

In Grapevine, one of the city’s two TEXRail stops is along its historical Main Street. Hotel Vin, a six-story boutique hotel, recently opened adjacent to the Main Street station.