Major changes are coming to the Plano landscape this year as work commences on two new Dallas Area Rapid Transit train stations. They will serve a new rail line, known as the Silver Line, that will provide a direct connection from Plano to DFW Airport. Along the way, it will pass through Richardson, Dallas, Addison, Carrollton, Coppell and Grapevine.
For the Plano city leaders, the new DART line is about more than a faster ride to the airport. It’s an opportunity to improve transportation within the city, connecting neighborhoods and spurring new development.
The new station, 12th Street Station, near the intersection with K Avenue, will have two train platforms. Riders on the DART Red Line will stop at a new raised platform, similar to stations in downtown Carrollton or Forest Lane in Dallas. The Silver Line connection will be an at-grade platform between K Avenue and Municipal.
Plano and DART officials have collaborated on the design of the station and its overall concept, one of which includes a wave theme.
A few years ago, long-range plans called for an expansive walkable neighborhood. Those grandiose concepts have been scaled back to focus within a half mile of the station, hoping to foster additional development there and nearby downtown.
“I think the goal is transit-oriented development, similar to what we see downtown,” Plano Comprehensive Planning Manager Mike Bell says. “It will be more intense with more residential development. Right now, that area is almost all commercial.”
The Shiloh Road Station near the intersection of East Plano Parkway will also be the eastern terminus of the Silver Line. Unlike Plano’s Parker Road Station, which serves as the end of the Red and Orange Lines, city leaders hope to make the new facility more of a destination spot. Its location is near a large cluster of businesses, known as the “research and development crossroads.”
“We’d like to capitalize on the fact that there are a lot of jobs in that area,” Bell says.
In late 2022, the city began the first phase of the station planning project, which included an existing conditions assessment report. Those results were discussed during two Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.
In early 2023, the city will form a stakeholder group that will work to refine the strategic vision at both stations. They hope that they will serve as a catalyst for growth within the city, particularly at the 12th Street station where many nearby neighborhoods are ripe for redevelopment.
“We’re hoping that it will be an economic driver for us both at 12th Street and then with the Collin Creek Mall redevelopment,” Bell says. “We are always looking at more ways to connect downtown.”
Finding ways to better move people across the city will continue to be a challenge in the coming decades. Currently, city and regional transportation committees are evaluating factors such as automated people-movers and driverless shuttles in some of Plano’s urban clusters, like the Legacy West corridor. Engineers are also looking into potentially procuring a grant for a JPod system, which would serve as a kind of elevated monorail, but with single cars.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments has also conducted studies on a future Irving to Frisco rail line that would pass through Plano, though this development could be decades away.
After more than 30 years of planning and countless debates among Plano and DART officials, the Silver Line is tentatively slated to begin operations by the end of 2024.