by The Dallas Morning News, see full article here.

After years of planning and months of debate, DART board members have approved the $1.1 billion Cotton Belt east-west commuter rail line. Richardson businesses already are populating Northside, a premiere train stop set to open in 2022.

Northside represents a convergence of DART's, Richardson's and UT Dallas's interests. DART wants to expand its more than 100-mile rail system and sees UTD as a prime stop. UTD, once a commuter-centric school, has spent recent years trying to become a more walkable campus with a more vibrant culture. Apartments, retail and food establishments are already open.

After the votes Tuesday, the biggest remaining hurdle is approval of a $908 million federal loan, which DART expects in November. Construction will start upon approval of the loan, hopefully by the end of the year.

Phillip Strong, an assistant vice president with State Farm, said one of the reasons the insurer opened its corporate campus at CityLine was for transit access.

"We are very excited to see it expand with the new east-west connection," he said. "It's important to our people and it provides a competitive advantage."

Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker and University of Texas at Dallas Vice President Calvin Jamison also spoke in favor of the Cotton Belt. DART will be working with the City on design concepts for the bridge for the train over 75 near CityLine, CityLine/Bush station, roadway crossings in Richardson, a proposed Cotton Belt Trail and noise wall structures near residential developments.