Thank you for reaching out with your questions and concerns. Please know that I am always available for inquiries, and that if I do not have the answer I will work to find it. You can also contact us through email atCottonbelt@DART.org or through our DART Hotline number at (972) 833-2856.
First, please let me take this opportunity to let you know that while the 79 miles per hour cited is the maximum speed the train can operate in the Cotton Belt Corridor, the design speeds through North Dallas are significantly slower. It is anticipated that the trains through the North Dallas area will average 35 miles per hour, which is similar to traffic on thoroughfares. As we continue our planning and refinement of the alignment we will have more exact speeds available.
As for safety barriers between residential adjacent properties and schools and the Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor, please know that we take the safety and security of all our neighbors very seriously. DART will install corridor safety fencing along residential adjacent property lines and near schools, as well as other high pedestrian traffic areas. You can find more information about this in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) at www.dart.org/cottonbelt.
To address pedestrian activity, final design will include the installation of special signage, designated street crossings, and adequate lighting, as required, to mitigate the potential for accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, corridor safety fencing will be used to control informal pedestrian crossings and secure the project at select locations, including those areas where there are adjacent residential land uses, schools, or other high pedestrian activity centers such as Addison Circle where large special events are held. (Final Environmental Impact Statement; page 4-32)
Betterments Policy for Residential Areas
With the knowledge that there will be at a minimum corridor safety fencing in place along residential adjacent properties and schools, the next step in the process is betterments. DART Board Policy IV.11 Betterments Policy for Residential Areas outlines a process for the identification and implementation of betterments in residential areas that are adjacent to a project corridor.
The DART Board of Directors has established two programs for residential adjacent properties:
1. Residential Adjacent Betterments that are available to all residential adjacent properties, and the
2. Corridor Betterments Program for residential adjacent properties that will not have sound mitigation walls.
DART has planned for 15-foot sound mitigation walls in the areas identified in the FEIS. This accounts for 17,700 Linear Feet (LF) of residential adjacent property out of the total 29,700 LF for the North Dallas area. Although the remaining 12,000 LF of residential adjacent property will not have a sound wall, these residential adjacent property owners are invited to work with the DART Betterments Team to reach consensus on how to spend the betterments budget allocated by the DART Board of Directors
The maximum betterment under this program is a 15-foot wall in addition to the corridor safety fencing, but the budget may be spent on other betterments instead, including additional landscaping, wall structures, wall finishes, or enhanced fencing.
Now, does this mean that residential adjacent property owners who do not provide input on betterments will only have a corridor safety fence? Absolutely not. We have identified, and will continue to contact through registered U.S. mail, email, HOA contacts and door hangers, all residential adjacent property owners in the North Dallas area. They will be given no less than three opportunities to provide input on the betterments design process either in-person, online or through pre-paid U.S. mail. The DART Betterments Team will schedule as many meetings as are necessary to reach consensus among residential adjacent property owners on the final betterments program.
I know that safety, especially for children, is as paramount to you as it is to us. Let me reiterate the importance DART places on safety education and awareness throughout our network.
First, schools and school safety are discussed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) atwww.dart.org/cottonbelt.
Potential impacts to these schools will be mitigated through the addition of enhanced safety features in addition to the standard at-grade crossing elements. DART will provide mitigation and is considering such strategies as flashing signals, pedestrian gates, enhanced signage or striping, and/or tactile strips which will be evaluated for feasibility and reasonableness as the project advances. Use of these additional features will be determined during final design in consultation with school districts.
In addition, DART has a comprehensive transit education program used at schools and other community organizations. DART will coordinate with schools and neighborhoods in the corridor to provide these education sessions prior to operations. (Final Environmental Impact Statement; page 4-11)
DART has developed and implemented an extensive Transit Education Program that includes curriculums designed for both children and adults. Working with residents and the community, our Transit Education team presents these programs to schools, non-profit organizations, scout groups, recreation centers, libraries, faith-based organizations, civic groups, senior organizations and community organizations.
We have already started our education outreach to establish and reinforce safety messaging for students, parents, teachers and administrators at schools throughout the Cotton Belt Corridor. Initial messaging was forwarded prior to the end of school and will resume this fall.
You can find more information about our Transit Education Program on the DART website at https://www.dart.org/ transiteducation/transiteducation.asp.
I hope I’ve been able to answer all your questions. If there’s any other information I can provide, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Director, External Relations Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)