Friday, February 3, 2023 Feb 3, 2023
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TRANSPORTATION DART & DOWNTOWN: TUNNEL VISION

By Ruth Miller Fitzgibbons |

As DART continues to crunch numbers and compare alignments in preparation for an unveiling of its new system plan next month, battle lines are being drawn over how the system will move through downtown: should DART dig tunnels for subways, or run tracks either at street level or overhead?

Early indications over at DART, which is in the process of reevaluating the technical aspects and cost effectiveness of a variety of solutions region-wide, are that revised estimates of the number of people who will work downtown by the year 2000 make the cost of tunneling prohibitive. Two years ago, downtown employees were projected to top 280,000 by the turn of the century, but estimates now fall more in the 150,000 range. And though downtown will still draw many more patrons of mass transit than any other employment center in the region, they won’t be enough, apparently, to justify digging up Elm Street.

DART chief Charles Anderson says that he is not willing to commit to one downtown plan or another just yet. But he will say that he does not believe that tunnels are the only workable solution for the downtown business district. “If the leaders of this city want to get together,” says Anderson, “and say we think the quality of life issues justify the extra costs, then that would be great. All I’m saying is that I hope they’ll be open to other alternatives as well.”

At this point the downtown business community is beginning to dig in for digging down. “There is a very strong sentiment,” says Larry Fonts, president of the Central Dallas Association, “that Dallas deserves a tunneling alignment downtown. As an elderly gentleman in our group says, we had surface transit thirty years ago and we tore it out.”