After numerous delays and circulating rumors of major production snags, construction is now well underway for the new A-Train rail line.  The 21-mile corridor, which parallels Interstate 35E in Denton County is being built for DCTA by the North Texas Rail Group.

Courtesy of DCTA

The corridor will connect the cities of Denton, Lewisville and Highland Village, joining with the DART rail system in Carrollton.  So when a passenger boards the train at the downtown Denton station, they will be able to get off in downtown Dallas if they choose to do so.

According to DCTA’s plan, there will be five rail stations, a bicycle/pedestrian path, and a regional rail operating and maintenance facility.

The A-Train project is being funded by a new business model; revenue from other forms of transportation.  Denton County tax dollars are only paying for 20% of the new A-Train, while the other 80% is coming from NTTA’s State Highway 121.

“The North Texas Tollway Authority gave the region $3.2 billion to operate 121 as a toll road.  DCTA is receiving about $250 million of that,” said Dee Leggett, DCTA vice president of communications and planning.

One of the benefits of the new A-Train is the inevitable traffic that it will bring to local businesses.  Lake Dallas insurance agent Eric Grunor doesn’t think his insurance business will be directly affected because people who live out-of-town are not likely to want a non-local insurance agent.  But Grunor thinks that businesses such as restaurants will benefit from the new traffic.

“I think in the end, everybody benefits just because you have more tax dollars coming into the community which can then grow the community,” Grunor said.

Not everyone along the corridor’s path was pleased when the A-Train was proposed.  According to Leggett, one of the main concerns among Denton County residents was how loud the train would be.

One of the many ways the A-Train will combat the noise factor is by using continuously welded railing in 1600 foot lengths.  Passenger rail lines that operate on older tracks will often make a “clickety-clack” noise because the rails are bolted together instead of being a solid piece of metal.

Other ways the noise will be reduced are through 9,000 feet of sound walls along the corridor, and a “quiet zone” policy, which means the train will not blow its horn.

According to Leggett, the vehicles that will run on the A-Train corridor are quieter than many other commuter rails, in addition to their many other features.  The vehicles are diesel operated and very similar to the light rail vehicles that operate in Dallas.

“Because it operates like a light rail vehicle, it’s quieter, it’s a smoother operation, and it really will compliment the adjacent hike and bike trail and the residential areas that we’ll pass through as a commuter line,” Leggett said.

According to Leggett, diesel operated vehicles are more eco-friendly and cost-effective than some other methods of fueling.

The A-Train construction is currently underway and the line will open in three separate phases.  The Hebron, Old Town, and Lewisville Lake stations will open in December of 2010.  The Midpark station in Denton will open in April of 2011 and the Downtown Denton station will open in June of 2011.