Dallas, Fort Worth to seek stimulus money for streetcars

Streetcar lines could return to downtown Fort Worth and Dallas by 2012, or at least be under construction by then, if the cities can secure federal stimulus money for the projects, officials said Thursday.

The two cities, with help from the North Central Texas Council of Governments, plan to apply for $95 million in federal grants by a Sept. 19 deadline. While it’s unclear how the money would be divided, it would help kick-start a streetcar line that Fort Worth officials have talked about running from downtown to museums, hospitals and the Stockyards. It has been estimated that the project could cost as much as $250 million.

"It's a huge shift," said Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns. "Until a few days ago, we were talking about still being in the planning process in 2012."

Planners in both cities and the region are optimistic that the projects may qualify for immediate aid. The key would be demonstrating to the federal government that the streetcars would improve mobility in economically distressed areas, thus qualifying them for a special grant.

And North Texas officials hope that the cities get Brownie points for submitting their requests together, as a regional show of force in the ongoing battle to reduce traffic congestion and spur job growth.

"It's really important that Dallas and Fort Worth work together and go after federal dollars. We should have been doing this a long time ago," Fort Worth Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks said after a Regional Transportation Council meeting Thursday in Arlington.


Related stories from McClatchy DC