January 25, 2017 – TRA Newswire –

McClatchy newspapers report that President Trump’s transition team has compiled a list of 50 potential transportation projects across the U.S. that could be included in a promised infrastructure proposal. Two in the “Top 15” are passenger rail projects in Texas: the bullet train between Dallas and Houston to be built by Texas Central Railways and the DART rail Cotton Belt crosstown project in North Dallas county.

Surprisingly missing is the Texas Department of Transportation I-35 Corridor Rail Project called TOPRS (Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study). The Tier 1 study is overdue to be released.

Texas Rail Advocates, the state’s leading backers of passenger and freight rail, issued the following statement regarding reports indicating the Presidential Transition Team listed two Texas rail projects among its transportation priorities:

“Passenger rail projects in Texas are critical to maintaining the state’s vitality. Texas Rail Advocates is excited by reports that the new administration in Washington has identified two train projects in Texas for its list of 50 transportation priorities. Both Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Cotton Belt line and Texas Central’s bullet train between Houston and Dallas are vital projects for our state as we work to keep communities and business connected and increase the number of travel options for local and long-distance travel. The economic development generated by the development and operation of these trains makes sense for our growing state. We look forward to learning more about how the federal government intends to support these and other rail projects in Texas.”

The #13 passenger rail project in the list, the Dallas-Houston bullet train, is to be built without state or federal handouts, according to Texas Central. Trains would only take 90 minutes to run at speeds up to 200 miles per hour for the trip between the two mega-regions. The $12 billion dollar project would create 40,000 direct jobs.

The #14 listed transportation project is the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Cotton Belt rail line that would connect DFW Airport through cities in North Dallas County and bring a much needed reliever for crosstown rail to Plano and Collin County. Commuters would be able to continue on trains from DFW Airport to Fort Worth on the Fort Worth T’s TEXRail line, now being built. The 67 mile long Cotton Belt route would create about 2,000 jobs, according to the information provided.

Advocates had been waiting for the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study to be released in 2016 and the latest word is the plan for passenger trains on or near the I-35 corridor could be released in April.

According to the TxDOT website, the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study is an evaluation of a range of passenger rail service options in an 850-mile corridor from Oklahoma City to South Texas. The study was scheduled to conclude by the end of 2016 after the completion of a service-level environmental impact statement (EIS) and a service development plan. Both of these reports will document how passenger rail could serve Texas communities and the benefits and impacts of different passenger rail choices. The study will consider the corridor as a whole, as well as three discrete portions of the corridor:

  • Northern: Oklahoma City to Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Central: Dallas/Fort Worth to San Antonio
  • Southern: San Antonio to Rio Grande Valley/Corpus Christi/Laredo