Silver Line to run through Coppell, providing community connections
February 9, 2023
At the intersection between Denton Tap and Belt Line Roads, orange cones line the street closing off parts of the road and redirecting traffic.
Similar construction can be seen throughout Coppell, some changes being implemented for the creation of the DART Silver Line Project. A 2006 decision is now in its implementation stages 16 years later, hoping to forge city connections.
Debriefing the Silver Line Project
According to DART, the Silver Line Regional Rail Project, formerly referred to as the Cotton Belt Corridor is a 26-mile line that will traverse through seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano.
Its objective is to connect people throughout North Texas in a reliable manner, providing rail connections that will improve mobility to major employment, population and activity centers.
The Silver Line Project will interface with three existing DART Light Rail Lines, the Red and Orange Lines in Richardson and Plano, the Green Line in Carrollton and the Orange Line at DFW Airport.
Furthermore, the line will connect to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority TEXRail Regional Rail Line and provide access to the DFW Airport Skylink People Mover.
According to the DART website, the train itself is diesel powered and equipped with 230 seats. The vehicle is able to accommodate up to 485 passengers. DART will have eight Silver Line vehicles with five in operation and three as spares. Every night after the end of service, each vehicle will be disinfected. DART anticipates weekday service to be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the Silver Line running every hour.
Construction in Coppell
Along the 26-mile line, 10 different stations will be built. One of those stations will be located in Cypress Waters at 445 E. Belt Line Road. A parking lot will be built adjacent to the station for users of the rail line.
DART has hired Archer Western on the grounds of a design build job. DART provided the company with a certain criteria of specifics it wants to construct and Archer Western, working as the general contractor, took over from there. The project started at the beginning of 2019 and residents will be able to travel on the trains by the end of 2025.
Hints of construction for this project can be found scattered throughout Coppell. Most notably, a bridge for trains to cross Denton Tap Road will be constructed.. The roadway work beneath the bridge does not fall under the scope of Archer Western. Once the railway is up and running, there should be no interference with the traffic on Belt Line Road.
The DART Silver Line is under construction along Belt Line Road on Friday. DART’s Silver Line will feature an overhead bridge that will run over Belt Line Road and the line is expected to run by 2025. Photo by Aliya Zakir
“For the past two years, we’ve been moving a bunch of franchised utilities, which are your gas lines, your fiber for internet, electrical [lines] and there’s actually a pipeline that runs most of the corridor called the Explorer pipeline,” Archer Western civil project manager Niko Cantu said. “It actually is an eight–inch pipeline that has jet fuel that goes to the airport. There’s been a ton of areas that we’ve had to relocate that not only in Coppell but just really all over our guideway.”
As the project falls under the scope of seven different cities, coordination has been key. Cypress Waters, though located in Coppell, is currently owned by Dallas.
“The reason why the station isn’t further along is because we’ve been having some coordination issues with Dallas,” Cantu said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can and we’re hoping here in the next few couple months, we’re going to be full blown working on this station.”
Working with all seven cities is not the only push back that the company has dealt with. Coordination with two airports, five railroads and two other government agencies has affected the building process. Furthermore, with prices rising due to inflation, material prices have increased and diesel prices have skyrocketed.
As construction occurs closer to homeowners, mailers are sent to notify the community regarding construction. Archer Western’s community outreach group offers a hotline number and DART offers community meetings.
As the DART line connects North Texas from east to west, residents fear that unsafe individuals will travel on the rail and bring unsafe conditions to Coppell. According to The Dallas Morning News, from “January to March 2022, 235 [National Incident-Based Reporting System] occurrences and 153 arrests were reported for train stations. For buses and bus stops, 20 NIBRS occurrences and 20 arrests were reported. In April, two people died at two DART stations.”
According to the DART website, “Closed Circuit Television Systems (CCTV) will be used to monitor every Silver Line vehicle. These on-board internal and external camera systems feature recording capabilities that can be remotely monitored by DART Police from a manned central monitoring station and other remote locations.”
The Cypress Waters station location falls near Coppell Middle School West. According to the Coppell Gazette, “DART also plans on conducting school outreach with Coppell ISD to discuss public transport safety with students upon the Silver Line’s completion.”
“I don’t know how it will affect us, I do realize that we’ll need to be very cautious,” Coppell High School Principal Laura Springer said. “It’s going to be good for the fact that it’ll take you all the way to Plano and all the way here for people who don’t have cars that can get to those places. I’ve ridden the rails, you have to be aware of your surroundings, you have to know where to get off and where to get on so you don’t go to places that we shouldn’t be at. But I think it’s going to be interesting to see. I don’t know how it will affect us other than I’m thankful [it will help] people who don’t have cars [and] who can’t go all the way across and maybe open up some more job opportunities for some of our families that are in Coppell.”
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