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The SUPERTRAIN passes us by

We knew we weren’t going to get much in the way of funding for high speed rail in Texas, but it still kinda stings to see just how little we got.

The $3.75 million that the Lone Star State will receive is a sliver of the more than $8 billion distributed, mostly to states that have plans and other funding ready to go.

The goal is to build a coordinated national high-speed-rail network that could help relieve road and air congestion. Plans range from upgrading Amtrak tracks to help trains move at more than 100 mph to building elevated tracks for European-style bullet trains, which could shuttle travelers across long distances at more than 185 mph.

Long-standing plans call for the high-speed network to pass through the Metroplex, linking North Texas with St. Louis and Chicago to the north and San Antonio to the south.

Let’s just say we’re a long, long way from that. The DMN puts it in context.

Consider what others are doing. Take Florida, which has, like Texas, a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature:

  • In October, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Florida lawmakers to get their “act together” if they wanted stimulus money Congress authorized for high-speed rail.
  • In December, those lawmakers passed a high-speed rail bill in special session to address governance and funding.
  • Thursday, President Barack Obama went to Florida with Amtrak-riding veteran Joe Biden to announce a $1.25 billion grant to develop Tampa-to-Orlando service for 168-mph trains.

In California, voters had already embraced bullet-train development by approving a $10 billion stake in financing. Illinois, aside from having close friends in Washington, had pledged support to modernize current Chicago-to-St. Louis service.

In the rail sweepstakes, no smart money was on Texas – certainly not after Karen Rae, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said in Austin this month that there “has been no central vision, no common vision for rail in Texas.”

With that assessment, we agree.

Ouch. I don’t know when the next opportunity will come, but I sure hope we can do better than this.

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3 Comments

  1. Appetitus Rationi Pareat says:

    I will say it again, sadly, we will be dead and buried before high speed rail comes to Texas. This state is way too conservative and not innovative enough to go for something like that. Add to that, this state is bought and paid for by the oil industry.

    Also, people here will complain that rail service “doesn’t pay for itself” (even though, of course, no form of transportation does). Hell, we can’t even get decent public transit in our cities because of such a mindset.

  2. Mike says:

    Well, we got what we deserved.

    ARP – I wouldn’t go that far. If we see progress like Bill White as Governor and a few more Dems in the state house – along with extra US Reps for Dallas and Houston, I think the Texas Triangle rail project will happen within the next 30 years or so. It really isn’t that “innovative” – rail is a basic means of transportation. And going 100 mph or so really isn’t all that fast and is still considered “high speed rail” by US standards.

  3. […] Chron is none too pleased with the way Texas fared with federal funds for high speed rail. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Lippincott stated the obvious: Texas needs to […]

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