December 11, 2017 – TRA Editorial –

Compared to other states, the Texas Department of Transportation does an amazing amount of future planning for the needs of the motoring public. TxDOT just ended several weeks of public comment to update its Unified Transportation Program. The UTP is TxDOT’s 10-year plan to guide transportation development for future construction projects and related activities.

There’s a massive amount of highway projects in the planning pipeline for the next 10 years that total billions of dollars. What is totally lacking is any plan for passenger rail in urban, suburban, regional and intercity corridors. It’s almost like passenger rail does not exist in the TxDOT dictionary.

Apparently the highway-centric planners at TxDOT, the staff and management, the Texas Transportation Commission, your elected state lawmakers and the Governor’s office all don’t realize that we just can’t keep pouring asphalt and concrete forever to move Texans from Point A to Point B across the state. We need Multi-Modal solutions and that includes passenger rail.

Other states are light years ahead in marrying passenger rail into their transportation plans. Texas, on the other hand, continues to be a third-world country when it comes to passenger rail.

Here are just a few areas that are crying out for a passenger rail solution: Galveston to Houston, Houston to its outlying suburbs, the I-35 corridor and especially between Austin and San Antonio. Fast, frequent and dependable passenger rail service.

It all starts with the Texas legislature that holds the purse strings on transportation funding. If you don’t let your elected state Representative and Senator know that we are about to confine the next generation to an asphalt and concrete “carmageddon” future then nothing will be done to add passenger rail to the mix. The same goes with your Mayor and Council at the local level.

Every voice added ratchets up the conversation. Here’s our public comment that was filed for the 2018 TxDOT Unfied Transportation Program:

“The 2018 UTP update has again failed to include passenger rail as a multi-modal partner in state transportation plans. There are areas of the state begging for congestion relief that could benefit from a passenger rail solution in urban, suburban, regional and intercity corridors. The I-35 corridor needs a rail component.   #NotMoreLanesMoreTrains”

Where’s your voice?