North Dallas neighbors are fuming over what they consider to be dangerous problems with DART’s new Silver Line between Plano and DFW Airport.
A town hall meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday night to share information the city of Dallas has received about the plans.
The meeting is sponsored by City Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn who represents and lives in the North Dallas area that the trains will cross.
The meeting will be held at Pioneer Arts and Technology Academy at 15720 Hillcrest Road.
“There’s a lot of resentment on how North Dallas has been treated. This train will be built and nobody has said we’re trying to stop the train. We’re trying to make the train as safe as possible with less intrusion on our community in terms of our quality of life and I think that’s completely reasonable,” Mendelsohn said.
Construction is already underway under DART’s design-build contract even though the design is still in the works on several segments, including the portion through North Dallas.
“We’re going to continue doing everything we can to make sure people know, one that it’s coming and two, that it’s safe and hopefully makes their travel easier across North Texas,” DART Spokesman Gordon Shattles said.
North Dallas neighbors who are critics of the DART project have been sounding off at Dallas City Council meetings the past several months, including resident Jocelyn Ickes.
“I’m worried for the safety of my children. I’m worried about flooding of the streets. I’m worried that they’re going to cross train tracks,” Ickes said.
Her home backs directly to the rail path near Hillcrest Road.
The flood concern is that Hillcrest will be depressed under the tracks. Neighbors fear it will cause a high water issue on the roadway and in the adjacent neighborhood, too.
“Because DART is unwilling to put the proper size pump in. Unacceptable,” Mendelsohn said.
Shattles said necessary equipment will be installed and that existing flooding problems in the area may actually improve with the new arrangement.
Neighbors also insist that the rail path should be depressed in a trench or tunneled through the area, especially at the crossing of a hike and bike trail beside Meandering Way.
Mendelsohn said it is not too late to make that change.
“It deserves to be grade-separated and I hope they will push forward to make that happen,” she said.
Shattles said that option would be severely complicated by creeks that cross the rail path. Elaborate pumps would be necessary to move water over the depressed rail line.
“After a complete review of the scenarios, we decided that this was the one that best served, of course, our residents, but also their safety,” Shattles said.
The path of the former Cotton Belt railroad has been silent for decades but DART always planned to make use of it.
Silver Line trains will not have overhead electric wires like DART’s light rail network. This segment will use independent diesel-electric cars like Tex-Rail trains that link Fort Worth with DFW Airport.
“Do they listen? Yes. Do they act upon community concerns? No. They steam forward from what I’ve seen, with their plans, and what benefits DART and their contracting company,” Ickes said.
Spokesman Shattles said safety is the primary concern and all of the grade crossings will be constructed to meet Federal Railroad Administration and city of Dallas standards.