The federal government, Texas and a private company are collectively working on two studies to assess the impact of a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx confirmed Tuesday.
Foxx, speaking at the Texas Transportation Forum, an annual conference put on by the Texas Department of Transportation, said the Federal Railroad Administration, TxDOT and Texas Central High-Speed Railway will move forward this year on environmental impact studies related to the project. The completion of such a study is typically a key early step in developing a major transportation project.
“I can’t speak to whether there will be roadblocks or anything down the road, but what I can tell you is I’m delighted to be part of helping get this first step underway,” Foxx said in an interview after his speech. “It’s a big deal for Texas, and we’ll see what happens going forward.”
TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson said two separate environmental impact studies are in development. The Federal Railroad Administration and Texas Central High-Speed Railway will conduct a study of a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. TxDOT, in partnership with the FRA, will sponsor a study of a slower rail line connecting Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas.
“We, TxDOT, will sponsor the environmental impact study on the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington side,” Wilson said. “The private sector will sponsor the EIS for that Houston/Dallas corridor.”
TxDOT officials could not provide a timeline for when either study would be completed.
See here, here, and here for the background. As Dallas Transportation notes, there have been other studies done in the past five years, and TxDOT is doing its own study on a Texas-Oklahoma rail corridor, which would likely be an extension of Houston to Dallas. The Texas Central High-Speed Railway folks are serious about getting their line built, hopefully by 2021. There are many hurdles to be cleared, and this is just one of them along the way. If you want to hear more about it, you can hear Robert Eckels, the President of Texas Central Railway, will be speaking at an H-GAC brown bag event on Monday, January 20. See here for the details.