ON MARCH 8 the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board announced preferred routes for light rail extensions to serve Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Irving. A month earlier, the board approved a 16·4 km route to Pleasant Grove.

A two-year Major Investment Study suggests that the $1·4bn northwestern lines serving 18 stations would carry 25000 riders a day. Preliminary engineering and financial studies will take 18 months, with construction crews transferring from the northern and eastern routes as these are completed in 2002-03.

Due to open in 2007-08, the Carrollton route will parallel the Trinity Railway Express commuter line as far as Medical/ Market Center and then follow a UP rail alignment north to Frankford Road. The Irving line will branch off near Bachman Lake and serve the University of Dallas before running northwest along State Highway 114 to Las Colinas. An extension to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport would follow by 2012.

The southeastern route would leave the existing DART network at Pearl Station and run east along former UP and SP alignments to Lake June Road. The board is due to decide this month whether the final 3 km will continue along the SP line to Elam Road or head east along Lake June Road to Buckner Boulevard. This line is costed at $450m, and its nine stations are expected to handle 19500 passengers a day by 2025. n