April 13, 2017 – TRA Newswire –
The North Central Texas Council of Government’s Regional Transportation Council has come out against Senate Bill 385 which would effectively kill commuter rail projects in the region and the state if passed into law.
Senator Konni Burton (R) Colleyville’s SB385 would require voters in every town along a commuter rail line approve the train operation. If one town in the middle of the line objected, the trains would not run.
The bill was voted favorably out of the Senate Transportation Committee and will be heard on the Senate floor as early as April 18th. “This is one of the worst pieces of transportation legislation ever laid out before Senators on the Transportation Committee”, according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody, reacting to the news. “It is highly discriminatory against passenger rail versus any other form of transportation like highways, airports or ports. If enacted into law this ‘kill commuter rail bill’ would force citizens all over the state off of trains and back into their cars, creating more traffic nightmares. It’s just plain ludicrous.”
The RTC member cities in North Texas have sent letters of concern about the impact the law would have on rail projects.
“Why would you be voting (a bill like this) on the transit side but not voting it on the freeway side”, voiced NCTCOG Transportation Director Michael Morris. Other members of the RTC voiced that “they know why, ” referring to Burton’s objection to use of any federal funds used for transit projects like the TEXRail commuter line project under construction between downtown Fort Worth and DFW International Airport. The rail line runs through Burton’s district. Under the bill one town could veto a rail project.
“You could have a rail line go through a dozen communities and 1% of the population involved could hold up a rail project that is of regional significance,” according to Morris. “How are you supposed to plan for the future under federal funding plans? It would be hard for a metropolitan planning agency to follow through.”