April 24, 2024 - TRA Newswire - 

Texas Department of Transportation Rail Division Director Jeff Davis, speaking at the Southwestern Rail Conference, said that the agency applied for three Federal Railroad Administration Corridor Identification programs to advance passenger rail in the busy Texas Triangle (DFW-Austin-San Antonio-Houston). 

While two of the conventional passenger rail planning grants were approved, one to scope out train service between San Antonio and Houston and another between Dallas and Houston (step 1 shown in the slide), a clerical error derailed a grant to look at service along the I-35 corridor between Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

"TxDOT had a clerical error in our submission and that made it ineligible for the FRA to review it", according to Davis. "When the next Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) comes out we will reapply for that leg and in the meantime we will look at everything in that corridor through the State Rail Plan. We hope that the FRA will approve the NOFO and we will not lose pace with the other two legs of the triangle."

Step 2 and step 3, to move from a service development plan to construction phases would require a 10 to 20% state share to obtain up to 90% federal funding. That would be dependent on legislators appropriating money for the conventional passenger rail projects (non-high speed rail). 

Hear Rail DIvision Director Jeff Davis' full presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wZA1rnr1P4&list=PLnbmj5aoqPu4_wKK73MfzQsR-kHJ6_JDu

Rail chief Davis had long awaited good news about re-establishing freight rail service on the international bridge at Presidio in deep Southwest Texas along the Rio Grande River. The state-owned South Orient Railroad, leased to TexasPacifico, will have a Customs and Border Protection facility built to monitor trains between Texas and Mexico, with construction approved recently by the Texas Transportation Commission. 

The Texas Rail Plan, required by the U.S. Department of Transportation to obtain federal funding, will be updated with stakeholders this year. The state plan was last updated in 2019. Texas Rail Advocates is a stakeholder in the plan and will offer input.