Collin County is currently acquiring the right-of-way needed to extend the Collin County Outer Loop. The next phase is scheduled to begin in early 2019 and stretches between the planned northern extension of the Dallas North Tollway in Celina east to Preston Road (Route 289) in Prosper. Plans call for the Outer Loop to extend 50 miles from the Dallas North Tollway all the way to I-30 in Royse City. It currently stretches 4.6 miles from Highway 75 in Anna to Highway 121 near Melissa. Right now, U.S. 380 serves as Collin County's only east-west route. NBC DFW reports 50,000 cars travel on 380 every day, and this number is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Soil testing and right of way acquisition has begun
The DART 2030 Transit System Plan (TSP), approved in October 2006, identified the Cotton Belt Corridor as a priority project. In 2016, DART advanced implementation of the Cotton Belt to the year 2022 in its FY2017 Twenty-Year Financial Plan. The project will be financed through a new federal loan program called Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF). The project assumes a phased approach to implementation that would initially include mostly single-track operations. The 26-mile Cotton Belt Corridor extends between DFW Airport and Shiloh Road in Plano (see map above). The alignment traverses seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano. The Cotton Belt Project's primary purpose is to provide passenger rail connections and service that will improve mobility, accessibility and system linkages to major employment, population and activity centers in the northern part of the DART Service Area. The Cotton Belt Project would interface with three DART LRT lines: The Red Line in Richardson/Plano, the Green Line in Carrollton and the Orange Line at DFW Airport. Also at DFW Airport the project would connect to Fort Worth Transit Authority's TEX Rail Regional Rail Line to Fort Worth and the DFW Airport Skylink People Mover.
DART is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the impacts and benefits of rail passenger service on the Cotton Belt Corridor. Soil testing and right of way acquisition has begun. Project oversight will be conducted by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The American economy is on track to grow at a 5.4 percent annualized rate in the first quarter of this year, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow now forecasts. The regional Fed's forecast rose from last week's 4.2 percent growth following a report on manufacturing that showed more expansion than expected. The forecast of real consumer spending growth rose from 3.1 percent to 4.0 percent, while the forecast of investment growth soared from 5.2 percent to 9.2 percent. This is an early reading, based on just one-months data. Even the most optimistic economists do not expect the economy to expand at that rate in the first quarter. Both the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow and the New York Fed's Nowcast had readings for the fourth quarter of 2017 that were substantially higher than the official initial estimate, which came in at a 2.6 percent annual growth rate.
More than a half million new residents move to Texas annually, according to the latest estimates by the Texas Association of Realtors. Texas had the second highest total moves in the country second only to Florida in 2016, according to the latest census data analysis by the Texas Association of Realtors. "Despite slowing job and economic growth over the last two years, housing-market and population growth have remained strong and steady throughout the state," Kaki Lybbert, 2018 chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, said in the report. "With more than half a million people moving here each year, it's evident that the Lone Star State fosters a positive environment for business development and raising a family," Lybbert noted, in the report.
The Realtors study found that almost half of the new residents coming to Texas originated from outside of the U.S.
The largest share of out-of-state Texas moves came from the Los Angeles, New York and Chicago metro areas. California had a net loss of 142,932 residents in 2016, according to the Realtors' report. The Dallas-Fort Worth area had the biggest share of the annual moves - 123,661 new residents during the year. Houston's Harris County topped Texas with a gain of 20,942 residents relocating from out of state.
Four more of the top 10 counties for moves from outside the state were in North Texas including Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, according to the Realtors.
North Texas homeowners must like the roofs over their heads. The average time Dallas-Fort Worth homeowners stay in their property has almost doubled in the last decade. While local property values have skyrocketed in the last few years, homeowners are staying put longer and longer. A combination of rising home prices and a shortage of properties on the market fueled their decisions not to sell. Higher home finance costs also play a part and are likely to be more of a factor in the year ahead. At the end of 2017, typical D-FW homeowners kept their homes for nearly 7.5 years before selling, according to a new study from Attom Data Solutions based on analysis of public records on sale, ownership and tax, relating to more than 150 million U.S. properties. That's way up from an average 3.8-year tenure at the end of 2007. Nationwide, the average tenure of homeowners at the end of 2017 was an all-time high of about 8.2 years, Attom Data researchers found.
"It's the most profitable time to sell a home in more than 10 years, yet homeowners are staying put longer than we've ever seen," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions. Many homeowners are shrugging off the temptation to sell, even with the potential for great profits, he said. "Homeowners in the region have gained so much equity so rapidly over the past few years that they are finally starting to leverage that equity to move up more quickly," Blomquist said. On average, D-FW home sellers last year made a profit of $69,496 — more than the national average profit of $54,000. Of course, owners who sold at the top of the market also had to buy into a housing market with record prices.
Last year Dallas-Fort Worth homebuilders started almost 34,000 homes. The construction total would have been even greater if builders could have rounded up more workers. The labor shortage that's hammered the U.S. housing industry continues to be one of the biggest worries for builders. "We are 20,000 construction workers short in D-FW despite wages rising 35 percent for most needed trades," said Phil Crone, head of the Dallas Builders Association. "I only see the shortage easing if the demand eases, I don't see that occurring in an impactful way. "More than 92 percent of our members cite the lack of labor as having a significant impact on their business," Crone said. "In most cases that's adding a month and more than $5,000 to every home built in our area." Ted Wilson with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies said that some of the builders his firm works with are reporting an increase in skilled tradesmen on their job sites. That helped them increase home starts in North Texas by 15 percent in 2017, compared to the nationwide single-family home start rise of 9 percent. "But labor is still a big issue for our builders and is limiting construction," Wilson said.