Burleson First On List For New Commuter Rail Service

Burleson is first and then comes Cleburne, as far as plans for a new commuter rail to Fort Worth is concerned.

Earlier this year, the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ (NCTCOG) Regional Transportation Council approved Mobility 2045, a comprehensive transportation plan for Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The plan includes the development of Cleburne Line, a commuter rail project which will cost an estimated $1.7 billion.

NCTCOG initially plans to implement commuter rail service from Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center to Burleson as a pilot project or the first segment of the Cleburne Line.

Ideally, the pilot, aka Burleson Commuter Rail is scheduled to complete in 3 years, depending on funding availability, collaborative support, track conditions and vehicle availability, among other factors.

NCTCOG anticipates the Burleson area will have 1,000 to 3,000 rail riders in the coming years, according to reports on Mobility 2045.

Based on the success of the pilot program, the rail service will then extend to Cleburne. The total project may take up to 20 years to complete.

NCTCOG is working on the details with the City of Burleson and BNSF Railway, which owns and operates freight trains on the rail line proposed for the project.

Shannon Stevenson, transit planning and operations program manager at NCTCOG, said the concerned entities will start planning and working in early January 2019.

“This rail line will provide the opportunity for people to live in Burleson and surrounding communities and be able to commute,” Stevenson said. “Into downtown Fort Worth, or even take that connection to TEXRail in downtown Fort Worth and go on to the airport. They could theoretically ride the rail from Burleson all the way into DFW Airport and then catch whatever flight they need. It’s going to be a great regional connection.”

Population in the area along the proposed rail line is expected to increase by 84 percent, from 131,000 residents to 241,389. With that, employment is also expected to increase by 42 percent.

With all the growth coming to the area, Stevenson said the rail line will help ease up traffic congestion.

The project will function as a “stacked” commuter rail service, a cost-effective commuting strategy. Stacked commuter rail is a form of commuter rail that provides service exclusively in peak directions at peak times. Meaning, the rail service will only operate during high-demand periods of the day, e.g., the morning or evening rush hour. At all other times, it will remain “stacked” or stored at the depot.

The train station in Burleson will likely be located at Transit Oriented Development District in West Burleson.

“The City is coordinating with the NCTCOG to ensure that we are prepared for a transit station,” said Mandy Clark, Development Services Director at the City of Burleson. “But we also need to manage current growth in the area.”

The city of Burleson has proposed to have housing, retail, and commercial services within walking distance of the station stop.

However, a fixed timeframe for the train station has not been determined yet.

Clark added: “We are currently evaluating the TOD [Transit Oriented Development District] area with our update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan to ensure that development in the area is appropriate and transitional for a future transit station.”

SOURCE: Burleson Star