Plans for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s TexRail commuter line running from Southwest Fort Worth through Colleyville, Grapevine and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport likely will not be realized until 2015. The City of Colleyville, though, has already spent more than a year working with The T to make sure that when the trains come, their residents will not hear them.
“It is still very much our intention to create a quiet zone through Colleyville through the installation of quad gates,” City Manager Jennifer Fadden said.
A long time coming
The city has been in negotiations with The T for about 18 months to make that happen. Under the arrangement that the city hopes to iron out, The T would handle construction of the gates — which would lower to block vehicular and pedestrian traffic, negating the need for the trains to honk their horns — and pay the local portion of a matching grant that will attract federal funding to the project.
Those plans did not sit well with all the members of The T’s board of directors, though, when they voted on this year’s budget and a $375,000 line item dedicated to building quiet zones for Colleyville rail crossings.
“We’re not in the business of making Colleyville quieter,” Chairman Gary Cumbie said in a discussion in which he and other members pointed out many Colleyville residents’ opposition to TexRail and the City Council’s decision years ago not to dedicate any money to the construction or operation of a station within city limits.
Ultimately, though, Cumbie and others agreed a $375,000 expenditure now was better than risking having to foot the entire bill down the line. Quad gates — a system that traditionally flashes its lights and lowers an arm on each side of a train track to alert people of a coming train and block traffic from getting too close — do not come cheap, said Fadden, who cited the project’s total cost at roughly $1.4 million.
The planned quiet zones would follow the historic Cotton Belt freight line, which cuts a diagonal route through the county and passes through several area cities, intersecting Bransford, Pleasant Run and John McCain roads in Colleyville.
Those tracks currently belong to DART — Dallas Area Rapid Transit — but are part of a deal being struck between the two transportation powerhouses as The T makes its plans for TexRail and the two continue working toward eventually meeting in the middle, running their respective commuter lines to a common station on the north end of DFW Airport.
Colleyville’s concern over the effect of the line on area residents and business owners stemmed from a study The T conducted in anticipation of the project.
“When the Fort Worth Transportation Authority did their environmental impact analysis of commuter rail on the Cotton Belt line, a significant amount of the noise that is estimated to be generated from the additional traffic on the line can be abated through the elimination of train horns,” Fadden said. “We think it will help protect the quality of life for our citizens by eliminating the horn noise from however many trains a day it will be that ride the line.”
Fadden anticipates that contracts between the city and The T will be signed off on before the end of 2012. The soonest construction would begin on the gates, she said, would be 2013, well before TexRail makes it first appearance in Northeast Tarrant County.