Still not much, but every little bit counts.
The Texas Department of Transportation will receive $15 million to begin engineering and environmental work on a high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced [last week].
Though it could be a decade or more before Houstonians can reach North Texas on a train topping 150 mph, rail advocates say the grant of federal stimulus funds is an important acknowledgment that the state’s congested highways alone cannot accommodate Texas’ growth.
“This is really big news for Texas because it connects the two biggest cities, and it’s not just a study to analyze whether that corridor makes sense — this decision admits that if there is a corridor in Texas that makes sense, Houston-Dallas/Fort Worth is that corridor,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the former CEO of a transportation trade group.
The grant was part of $2 billion the Federal Railroad Administration awarded to 22 high-speed inter-city passenger rail projects in 15 states. The funds became available after they had been rejected by Florida, having been turned away earlier by Wisconsin and Ohio, said Bill Glavin, director of TxDOT’s rail division. The Republican governors in those states said they could not afford the possible local costs associated with the work.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry will have no such option. The grant stipulates the states awarded the funding cannot return it, Glavin said.
The grant will fund studies to determine the environmental impact of construction and to pick a route, Glavin said. The work is expected to take 24 to 30 months.
Sweet. I think all of us who would like to see high speed rail in Texas owe thank you notes to the petty wingnut governors of those other states. The irony of us being the beneficiary of that is just killing me. But hey, I’ll take it. Houston Tomorrow has more.