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Fort Worth Officials Ride Streetcars in the Northwest

By BJ Austin, KERA Reporter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-770403.mp3

Dallas, TX – Fort Worth officials like what they saw on a weekend visit to Seattle, Tacoma and Portland to look at their streetcar systems. KERA's BJ Austin says the trip could put a downtown Fort Worth streetcar line on the fast track.

Fort Worth Planning and Development director Dana Burgdoff was on the streetcar fact finding trip. She says the most impressive thing they saw was the development that occurred within three blocks of the streetcar lines in each city. She says that encourages the Fort Worth idea to finance a downtown-area streetcar line with Tax Increment Financing.

Burgdoff: That would allow the city to capture any increases in property values as development occurs along the line. That added value is then able to be used to pay off the bonds that fund the system.

Dennis Shingleton, organizer of last month's Let's Talk Fort Worth Town Hall meeting, says the overriding theme from citizens was more mass transit.

Shingleton: Even when you broached the question of: Would you be willing to pay a penny on a sales tax for that service? The answer was overwhelmingly yes.

Fort Worth's Modern Streetcar Study Committee will have its recommendations ready for the City Council by the end of the year, including a starter route and proposed financing.