DART Green Line coming to Oak Lawn

24-mile extension of DART train route will include 4 stops in, around Oak Lawn, making travel easier for YFT and food pantry clients

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ALL ABOARD | DART’s Green Line already includes a stop in Deep Ellum, pictured, and Victory Plaza. Beginning Monday, the train will also make stops near Youth First Texas’ location, the Resource Center Dallas Food Pantry and Parkland Hospital. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

On Dec. 6, DART opens a 24-mile extension of the Green Line with four stations in and around Oak Lawn.

The four new Oak Lawn-area stations are Market Center Station, Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Station, Inwood/Love Field Station and Burbank Station.

Market Center Station is the first stop north of Victory Station. The American Airlines Arena was the northern terminus of the original four miles of the Green Line that opened in 2009 in time to connect riders from the Red and Blue Lines to the State Fair.

Located on Harry Hines Boulevard, Market Center Station should have greatest impact on the youngest members of LGBT community.Located across the street from Youth First Texas, the rail link will make services to the center available to hundreds more young people.

Youth First Texas Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes said the organization chose their new location partially because of the proximity to DART.

“Being at a DART hub, we’re excited to see how many will access Youth First Texas now that the line has come to fruition,” Wilkes said.

Bus service has been available, but waiting for a train at a well-lit station at night is safer and the service easier to access, he said.

Parkland Station, the second new Oak Lawn area stop, is located between Maple Avenue and Harry Hines Boulevard near Hudnall Street. Once the new Parkland Hospital is built, the stop will be at the facility’s entrance.

For now, DART will be a short one-block walk away from the main hospital, AIDS clinic Amelia Court, Zale-Lipshy and Children’s Hospital. St. Paul Hospital and the rest of UT Southwestern are a longer walk and connected by shuttle bus service.

Inwood Station on Inwood Road at Denton Drive Cutoff is across the street from the Resource Center Dallas Nutrition Center/Food Pantry. The Dallas Eagle is a block south and Cathedral of Hope is two blocks north. Resource Center Dallas’ proposed new building is also a block from this stop.

“It will make it quicker and easier for clients who access the pantry, especially those who travel great distances,” said Resource Center Dallas spokesman Rafael McDonnell.

The pantry is bracing for new clients who will now be able to access the agency’s services more easily. But McDonnell wasn’t worried about shortages of food due to additional clients.

“We’ll let folks know and we hope they’ll step up as usual,” McDonnell said.

Cathedral of Hope spokesman Coy James said, “We have lots of people who commute from all over the place. We have people who currently use the bus to get to services.”

He said that a number of church staff members were looking at ways to use the train to commute to work.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

To travel by DART to Love Field, bus 39 will connect Inwood Station with the airport terminal. That bus line will operate daily.

Large parking areas will open for commuters from Oak Lawn at Market Center, Inwood and Parkland Stations. Parking in DART lots is free.

The final new Oak Lawn area station is Burbank Station at the north end of Love Field adjacent to Southwest Airlines corporate headquarters. Southwest employees can get to work and Love Field West neighborhood commuters may take advantage of this stop, although no parking is available.

North of Love Field is Bachman Station, located just south of Northwest Highway at Denton Drive. Two more stations in Dallas are located at Walnut Hill Road and Royal Lane along Denton Drive before the Green Line heads into Farmers Branch and Carrollton.

Rafael McDonnell

Next summer, Green Line commuters will be able to travel all the way to Denton when the A Train opens. That line will connect Downtown Denton to Trinity Mills Station with four other stops along the 21-mile route.

From the southern end of the Green Line at Fair Park, four new stations in Pleasant Grove and South Dallas extend the line to the southeast corner of Loop 12.

Also opening Monday is the first phase of the Orange Line. Eventually, that route will connect the system with DFW Airport. Originally the Orange Line will duplicate service from other lines on a limited schedule.

The Orange Line will follow the Red Line route from Plano through Downtown Dallas. Rather than continue to Oak Cliff, the Orange Line will head north along the Green Line route from West End Station to Bachman Station.

When the Orange Line is completed, it will head west from Bachman Lake through Irving and Las Colinas to the airport. The first Irving phase should open in 2012.

Also opening on Monday is the new Lake Highlands Station on Walnut Hill Road at White Rock Trail. This infill stop is between the White Rock Station and LBJ/Skillman Station on the Blue Line. That station will provide an extra stop for White Rock Lake skateboarders, joggers or bike riders taking their bicycles on the train to the trail.

The Blue Line that now terminates in Garland will continue to Rowlett by 2012.

Also planned but without construction dates are a second Downtown alignment. During rush hours, three lines heading through Downtown on one set of tracks gets congested. Now the Orange Line and the expanded service on the Green Line will add extra rail traffic.

The Blue Line will expand south from Ledbetter Station to the new UNT Dallas campus in South Dallas. No date for that expansion is set.

The opening of 15 stations along 24 miles of new track is the largest single-day expansion of a light rail system in the country since 1990. The $1.8 billion Green Line opens on time and within budget.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Election 2010 • Republican gains could cause Dems redistricting woes

Dallas County stays blue despite a wave of Republican red sweeping across the rest of the state, nation

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
ANOTHER TERM | U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson makes an appearance at the county Democratic Election Night party. Johnson, the only Dallas-area Democrat in Congress, easily defeated Tea Party favorite Steve Broden on Tuesday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Although statewide results favored Republicans, Democrats swept all countywide races in Dallas County. The larger majority of Republicans in the legislature, however, will affect redistricting and could embolden some to file anti-gay legislation.

“Dallas County will still be a Democratic County,” said State Rep. Royce West at the election watch party at the American Airlines Arena on Nov. 2.

While pleased with the results throughout the county, Dallas County Democratic Party chair Darlene Ewing said her worry was redistricting.

New census figures will be reported in December. Then the newly elected legislature will redistrict state and federal legislative seats based on the new figures. She expects the state Democratic Party to file a challenge to the new boundaries should they be drawn to heavily favor Republicans.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas should gain a seat. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s district is packed with a large number of the county’s Democrats, contributing to her 50-point margin of victory. Should the new district be carved partially from that area, the next congress might include a second Democrat from North Texas.

Should her district remain untouched, the area will likely elect another Republican.

Texas state House and Senate districts will also be reapportioned. Current district lines kept six districts safely in Democratic hands. Those races were unchallenged by the Republicans but made the rest of the area’s races remained uncompetitive for Democrats.

Ewing said that in 2000, the Justice Department appointees who reviewed redistricting plans were Republican. But no longer.

“This time they’re on our side,” Ewing said.

“We have more recourse with a Democrat in the White House,” said Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Erin Moore.

Moore believes the Justice Department will look at the new map more critically than they had in the past. Redistricting should reflect neighborhoods, and that gerrymandering is done to get one party or the other elected, she said.

“With Republicans winning, we know they’ll draw some really squiggly lines to get what they need to win again,” said Moore.

Moore also worried about anti-LGBT bills that would become more likely to pass with a larger Republican majority. She said anti-adoption bills could be filed and anti-bullying laws would be less likely to pass.

“Numbers bring strength and confidence,” she said. “And they’ve been emboldened.

Within the Democratic Party, the number of delegates each state sends to the national convention is determined, in part, by the number of votes cast for the Democrat in the most recent gubernatorial race. She said more ballots were cast for Bill White this year than for Chris Bell in 2006.

In this election, White and other Democrats did much better in Dallas than across most of the rest of the state.

Of the straight party ballots cast, 53 percent went to the Democratic Party. By contrast, almost twice as many Republican straight party ballots were cast in Tarrant County than Democratic ballots.

In statewide races, White received 55 percent of the vote in the governor’s race in Dallas County. Across the state, Rick Perry won the election with 55 percent. The vote in Tarrant County reflected the statewide vote.

Dr. Elba Garcia and a supporter.
Dr. Elba Garcia and a supporter.

Other statewide races were all won by Republicans but were fairly evenly split in Dallas County. Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst held a 2,000-vote edge over Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson in Dallas. In other races, the Democratic challengers held a slight edge over the Republican incumbents across the county.

All contested Dallas County judgeships were won by Democrats. Winners took nothing for granted in their races, however.

“Somebody once told me there are two ways to run for office,” said Judge Carl Ginsberg. “Unopposed or scared.”

He said he got his message out and won with more than 52 percent of the vote, higher than most of the other winners. A number of Republican voters told him that they crossed over to vote for him.

Democrats also retained district attorney, county clerk, district clerk, and county judge and picked up a county commissioner’s seat.

However, in state House of Representatives races, Democrats lost all contested races in Dallas County. Two out of three Democratic incumbents also lost in Tarrant County. None of those races is a countywide contest.

Those losing their elections in Dallas included Carol Kent, Robert Miklos, Kirk England and Allen Vaught. In Tarrant County, Paula Pierson and Chris Turner lost their seats while LGBT community ally Lon Burnham retained his. Burnham has co-authored anti-bullying legislation.

“I think it was the national sentiment that hurt,” said Pete Schulte who challenged Republican incumbent Dan Branch for the House seat that includes parts of Oak Lawn and East Dallas.

“We lost a lot of good reps tonight,” Schulte said. “We fought a good campaign, but when federal politics takes center stage, it’s an uphill battle to combat that locally.”

Moore credits the Democratic win in Dallas County on the coordinated campaign of the county party, the get out the vote effort and a massive calling operation. But she called the results, “too close for comfort.”

Weather affected the outcome, Moore said. Traditionally, Republicans make up a majority of the early vote and Democrats are more likely to cast their ballots on Election Day. Rain affects turnout and more than three inches fell on Tuesday.

Elba Garcia was more upbeat in her assessment of the outcome. She beat 16-year incumbent Ken Mayfield by 5 percent.

She said voters spoke loudly about the change they want.

“We need this county to move forward,” she said. “Voters are tired of the finger pointing.”

Garcia said her experience in city government will benefit the county as she helps find ways for different entities together. Once elected, it doesn’t matter what party she ran on, she said, reflecting her experience as a city council member. The city council is elected in non-partisan elections.

Everyone on the Commissioners Court needs to work together on healthcare, public safety, education and economic development, Garcia said.
“Government is not exactly a business,” she said. “But it needs to be run professionally.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens