Texas should create a long-term plan for developing a statewide passenger rail system, the state Senate decided today in the first such step in years.
The approval of Senate Bill 1382 comes at a time when the Obama Administration and several states are rapidly moving to develop rail transportation corridors to alleviate highway congestion.
We’re still in journey-of-a-thousand-miles territory here, but as long as we keep taking those steps, it’s all good.
Currently, no state agency has a lead role in studying passenger rail development. But state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the bill’s author, Corona said that under the measure the Texas Department of Transportation would assume that role — and responsibility for studying such things as “existing and proposed passenger rail systems, analysis of potential interconnectivity and ridership projections.”
“It’s time to coordinate the communities that want this,” Corona said.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, questioned whether such studies would take away from TxDOT’s primary focus on building roads, and perhaps its funding for those roads.
No, said Corona, who said the agency should be focused on the mobility of Texans “not just pouring concrete for building roads.”
Darned right. It’s the Texas Department of Transportation, not the Texas Department of Highways, not that you’d have known that by observing their behavior. Whatever kind of makeover TxDOT gets this session, that kind of change in its mission ought to be part of it.