Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Neighborhood wants DART to modify rail plans

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Some residents in a Rowlett, Tex., neighborhood, northeast of Dallas, are expressing displeasure with Dallas Area Rapid Transit's plans to extend its Blue Line 4.8 miles from nearby Garland. Neighborhood representatives complain that DART will eliminate trees growing along the right-of-way, creating a negative impact on the area’s quality of life.


But DART spokesman Morgan Lyons tells Railway Age “it’s a corridor we’ve owned since 1997,” and any trees being felled are within DART’s own property lines. He stressed that DART is meeting with concerned citizens and is trying to address their issues in good faith.

Surveyor stakes have delineated the right-of-way recently, generating alarm in "four homes on a five-mile [stretch of] right-of-way," Lyons said, apparently surprised after property boundaries were not where they anticipated. The right-of-way, averaging 150 feet in width, will accommodate three tracks, Lyons said, with two for use by DART and a third for freight rail movement.

"The number of trees to be removed varies according towhere the lines go,” Lyons said. He acknowledged that some of the trees are “pretty good-sized” specimens.

One concerned citizen, addressing DART by e-mail, asked the agency to upgrade drainage near an industrial area on the north side of the tracks, retain as many trees as possible on the south side and replace ones that are removed, and install an 8-foot stone wall.

Said DART’s Lyons, "We've met with neighborhood residents ... and talked several times with them informally about our new tree survey and plans for a two-season sound study.” Lyons told Railway Age the original sound study took place in summer, when trees "were in full bloom"; subsequent studies will occur in fall and winter periods.

He added, "The tree study indicates which trees might be removed depending on the final rail alignment." The DART study evaluating noise impact will begin this fall. "We've committed to not start construction in this area until after the studies are complete," Lyons said.


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