Dallas officials approve $90 million DART agreement after months of debate
After a months-long dispute between Dallas City Council and DART, the two sides finalized an agreement Wednesday for much-needed improvements to city transportation infrastructure — though it came in more than $20 million below what the city said it was promised.
Dallas council members agreed to work with the regional transit agency to use $90 million in excess sales tax revenue and other funds to improve transportation across the city.
It's less than the $111 million in tax revenue the city expected after DART found the city was responsible for roughly $21 million in project delays and betterments, which was down from $80 million before negotiations.
Despite the dispute between city and DART officials, Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold and other council members said this was the best deal for the city at this point.
"These dollars will begin to melt right in front of our very eyes if we continue to drag out the conversation around these projects," Arnold said.
The city will receive $80 million to use for DART-related improvement projects such as ADA-compliant ramp installations and funding for free DART transit services for youth. The other $10 million will go toward supporting the Five Mile Creek Greenbelt and Bike Trail project.
Of the $80 million, the city will receive $50 million immediately, with the rest to be made available in increments based on specific milestones. That includes making progress on the Silver Line project, the proposed construction of a 26-mile DART route from DFW Airport to Shiloh Road in Plano.
Delays on the Silver Line initiative are part of why the city received less money than expected.
Still, Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said she felt the terms of the agreement would give DART the power to revoke the sales tax revenue once again for delays outside of the city's control.
"We must seek a solution that's legally sound and fair, or we'll make this deal thinking we've put the issue to bed, but we'll never see the dollars expected and it'll be too late to do anything about it," Mendelsohn said.
She unsuccessfully advocated for the vote on the interlocal agreement to be pushed to the council's first agenda meeting in August.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax said despite Silver Line project concerns, it was time to accept the satisfactory deal with DART and move on.
"People may not like the project — they might not even like DART," Broadnax said. "But at the end of the day, the money is green, we've got needs, and it's their resources to give, and they don't have to give them, and the only thing we can say is, 'I guess you don't get a train.'"
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