Metrolinx identifies new location for GO Transit layover facility. Also, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) President Nadine Lee says the agency could keep more than $80 million due to delays and changes it believes Dallas has caused to its planned Silver Line rail project; and Valley Metro awards $75,000 for arts and culture projects.
Metrolinx, which has been working with ONxpress to optimize GO Transit service expansion levels, has announced that it has identified a new location for the layover facility as part of the development phase of the GO Expansion–On-Corridor Works Project, and will no longer pursue planning and design work for the layover facility originally planned for the Don Valley.
According to Metrolinx, the new proposed location is on the Richmond Hill GO Line, near York Mills Road and Leslie Street, and is in a light industrial area. This location, the agency says, is within the required proximity to Union Station to “accommodate train movements, has available space for the facility and minimizes impacts on GO operations.” The location also meets TRCA flood requirements and has less community and environmental impacts, according to the agency.
Moving forward, Metrolinx says engagement with Indigenous Nations and stakeholders about feasibility and due diligence work will continue to be carried out on the new location to finalize design, property requirements, schedule and operations for the On-Corridor Works Project.
“Metrolinx is committed to working closely with Indigenous Nations with established and credibly asserted Aboriginal and treaty rights asserted, the City of Toronto and the TRCA to engage on the new identified location and reduce any potential impacts,” the agency stated in a release.
To enable rail service increases during design and construction of the new layover, Metrolinx says the Rosedale Siding (located between Bayview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway) will be used temporarily to stage GO trains during the day. GO Trains will be staged at the Rosedale Siding for about two hours in the morning peak period, and another two hours in the afternoon peak period.
DART President Nadine Lee says Dallas has “cost the transit agency more than $80 million with delays and requested changes to a commuter rail construction project and the money could come out of $111 million in excess sales tax revenue the city is due to receive,” according to a Dallas Morning News report.
According to the report, Lee told City Council members on Feb. 28 of an estimated $50 million in delays related to DART’s planned Silver Line rail project, a nearly $2 billion, 26-mile commuter rail extension planned to run from DFW International Airport to Plano, and more than $30 million in requested improvements beyond what the transit agency believes is required for the project.
According to the Dallas Morning News report, approximately three miles of the project will run through part of Far North Dallas, but the project has faced opposition from residents “because of safety and noise concerns over projections that dozens of trains a day will be coming through their neighborhoods.” The project is scheduled to be completed by late 2024.
According to The Dallas Morning News report, Lee said the city’s contract with DART related to the project “called for submitted plans to the city to be reviewed and approved within 10 days, but in some cases it’s taken as long as nine months. She estimated the issues were costing Dallas $150,000 a day of its share of $234 million DART officials announced last year it would give to the 13 cities it serves for public transportation-related projects.”
According to The Dallas Morning News report, “the assertion that the city wasn’t being a good partner to DART led to a rebuke from several council members and City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who called it ‘a little disturbing’ for DART to offer money only to take it away. This comes a week after some council members scoffed at the proposed terms DART sent cities to get and keep the sales tax money.”
The draft interlocal agreement, according to the report, included clauses “calling on cities to timely review and approve permits for DART projects, that cities pay for any DART project expenses caused by delays due to city actions and that cities use their ‘best efforts’ to work with DART to achieve its goals.”
According to The Dallas Morning News report, Assistant City Manager Robert Perez and City Transportation Director Gus Khankarli said “80% to 90% of the requested changes to Dallas’ portion of the Silver Line construction was so it could meet city, state and federal standards.”
Council member Cara Mendelsohn, who represents the area the Silver Line is running through and has also opposed the project, “denied that she and the city would be intentionally holding up the Silver Line, and asked DART to prove any delays were caused by the city,” and Council Member Tennell Atkins “urged Dallas and DART officials to sort out their issues so taxpayers know how much money the city will be getting,” according to the report.
According to The Dallas Morning News report, the DART Board in October voted to give Dallas and the other cities in the agency’s service area nearly $234 million with the stipulation that the money go toward public transportation-related projects.
For Dallas, The Dallas Morning News reports, those plans include “spending $15 million on improving sidewalks, $54 million to install ramps to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, $19 million for revamped traffic signals along major bus route corridors, $2.8 million to study how often DART parking lots are used to consider redeveloping them and $500,000 to pay for a pilot program for K-12 students to use transit for free.”
The money, according to the report, is largely made up of sales tax collected from the cities between 2019 and 2021. DART sent drafts of the terms for each city to get the money in December, but several revised the contract and sent it back to DART earlier this month. The DART board rejected the revisions on Feb. 14, according to The Dallas Morning News report.
Valley Metro recently announced that communities near the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub light rail construction project will soon enjoy arts and culture projects that “reflect and celebrate the local area and beautify the agency’s transit spaces,” through $75,000 in grants.
According to Valley Metro, the South Central Art Grant program will partner with more than a dozen local organizations throughout 2023 to provide grants supporting projects, ranging from outdoor musical performances and murals to youth arts education.
The selected projects, Valley Metro says, incorporate a variety of events and creative works, such as outdoor performances, festivals, art and children’s educational programs. A few of the funded projects include:
- KNOWLEDGEFES–a festival with an emphasis on arts and culture highlighting storytelling, jazz, poetry and arts.
- Mural by artist Reggie Casillas to be created at Calvin’s Market.
- A Mexican culture and heritage festival featuring ballet folklorico.
- A woman-led concert to be held at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center.
Grant Review Panels comprised of residents who live and work in the downtown and South Phoenix communities, considered the applications and made recommendations to fund the projects.
“We aim to celebrate and create platforms for all women to share their art through organizing educational, cultural and arts events and providing other arts-related social opportunities in South Phoenix,” said The Black Girl Brown Girl Collective Inc. (BGBGC), one of the 2023 awardees. “We are thankful for this funding which will allow us to continue to offer programming that puts women at the forefront of art and is also accessible to everyone in the community. We’re excited to get started!”
“The residents of the Grant Park and Lowell School community are grateful to the Valley Metro South Central Extension Project for the approval for the funding of an Arts and Cultural project grant,” according to Earl and Mary Rose Wilcox, Grant Park Barrio Youth Project Directors and 2023 grant awardee. “The grant will allow the children of our community to share in the excitement of preparations for light rail. The grant will provide for a community arts project collaboration and partnership between a known local artist and students from Lowell Elementary school. The Valley Metro South Central Extension Project, when completed, will provide a tremendous economic impact and will increase the quality of life for the residents of South Phoenix for future generations of South Phoenix.”
According to artist Isaac Caruso, “Spaces of Opportunity not only provides food and placemaking to the people of South Phoenix, it provides an identity. Artwork at our garden tell a story about people who interact with it, and this funding will help us create murals that further convey their legacy.”
“Public art is an integral part of the Valley Metro Rail system,” the agency said. In addition to this program, the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub will incorporate the work of 18 artists—13 of whom are Arizona locals—across the line’s five miles and eight stations.